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Knud Jorgensen: Equipping for Service

Knud Jørgensen, Equipping for Service: Christian Leadership in Church and Society (Oxford: Regnum Books International, 2012; Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2013), 150+xiv pages, ISBN 9781908355065.

The Reverend Dr. Jørgensen’s Equipping for Service is a substantially revised version of two of his earlier teaching modules: his manual, Equipping for Service (1995) and his Norwegian book translated as Vision and Every Day Life: Leadership in Mission and Congregation (1991). Unlike the earlier two projects, this version marries scholarly research on leadership and management, as well as biblical and practical ministry studies, with an applied focus on developing leaders in church and society. Though written as a scholarly contribution and the ideas are expressed in a manner familiar to an academic readership, the book is clearly not written for scholars. His intended audience includes practicing and aspiring missional leaders, pastors, elders, deacons, and community leaders in civil society. Readers will find reflective experiences scattered throughout his rigorous treatment of theories and models on leadership, strategic planning, management, organizational structure, behavioral consideration and leadership training.

Jørgensen is no mere theorist. The project is backed by his varied experience as i) chair of the Edinburgh 2010 study process monitoring group, ii) directorship of Scandinavian mission foundation Areopagos and Radio Voice of the Gospel in Ethopia, iii) executive secretariat for communications with the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, iv) deanship at Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Abaha, Tao Fong Shan in Hong Kong, and v) adjunct professorships in MF Norwegian School of Theology and Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong.

Equipping for Service has brought together many studies on leadership and has distilled them down into summaries and accessible presentations.

The materials are presented in fifteen short chapters. Three chapters focus on church-related matters (which we shall peruse shortly). Eleven chapters provide a narrative on leadership and their broad coverage, such as, the need for leadership, how leaders emerge, leadership in society, leadership in culture, team leadership, managing staff and volunteers, strategies and planning, gender and leadership, models for leadership training, organization and structure, and profiles of good leaders. Each of these chapters collates academic theories on the subjects, written concisely and reflectively to help a lay-readership receive insights. These chapters build on a foundation I shall now summarize.

Upon analyzing the crisis of leadership in church and society, Jørgensen proposes that churches urgently need leadership, and sustainable leadership development for professionals and laypeople. While he agrees that administrators and managers hold important roles, Jørgensen also claims that “people with values, credibility, visions and perspectives, who walk in front and show the way, who are able to inspire our hearts” are the ones truly able to “hold back the forces of evil in cities and nations” (pp. 1-2). Jørgensen bemoans the churches are “training helpers… to relieve the pastors and leaders of some of ‘their’ tasks, like house visiting, evangelism, Sunday school” when they ought to be nurturing leaders in their own right” (pp. 2-3).

Studying the definitions of leadership and influence, he shows how these definitions reflect various leadership theories and models – such as trait theory, great events theory, abilities and qualifications theory, situation and transactional model, transformational leadership, and various theories of leadership and management behavior plotted on a grid – country-club management, team management, middle-of-the-road management, impoverished management, and authority-compliance management, and theories on leadership style and situations – of whether task and/or relational focus, of decision styles – delegating, participating, selling or telling (ch. 2). Key elements include, leadership role (e.g., proven through ability, education and experience?), leadership behavior (e.g., being task-oriented), and leadership style (e.g., showing vulnerability).

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2018

About the Author: Timothy Teck Ngern Lim, M.Div. (BGST, Singapore), Ph.D. (Regent University), is a Visiting Lecturer for London School of Theology and Research Tutor for King's Evangelical Divinity School (London). He is on the advisory board of One in Christ (Turvey) and area book review editor for Evangelical Review of Society & Politics. He is an evangelical theologian ordained as a Teaching Elder with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He has published in ecclesiology, ecumenical theology, and interdisciplinarity. A recent monograph published entitled Ecclesial Recognition with Hegelian Philosophy, Social Psychology, and Continental Political Theory: An Interdisciplinary Proposal (Brill, 2017).

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