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Knud Jorgensen: Equipping for Service

The three chapters on leadership in church contexts covers: i) biblical models on the theology of servant leadership (chapter 3); ii) the pastor and the deacon (which consists of 20 pages and which happens to be the longest chapter in the book; chapter 7); and iii) obstacles to leadership in culture, society and church (chapter 8). In Christian settings, Jørgensen posits that besides knowing “the whole spectre [sic, spectrum] of leadership functions,” good leaders lead within God’s will and are submitted under God’s guidance even as they must be knowledgeable of Satan’s schemes and territory with a view to reoccupy that which belongs to God, and so, as they “stand in the midst of a spiritual conflict,” they “must know how Satan attacks at the personal level, in human relations and through witchcraft and evil spirits” and they “must know how to fight the enemy with the right weapons” (pp. 13-14). Servant leadership, exegeted from biblical terms – diakonos, doulos, huperetes, and leitourgos – is listed as the key of Christian leadership, who are also to function as stewards, shepherds, and leaders empowered with power to serve (chapter 3). Yet, Jørgensen’s treatment of pastors and deacons show a wide variety of how the two essential ministerial roles had been conceived historically, theologically, and in a number of contemporary settings. Whether the models and functions explained have been verified and backed by historical treatment is less of a concern for Jørgensen than for a careful, reflective integrative review of studies in these fields, insofar as missional leadership, the pastorate, and the diaconate have and still function in church and society then and now. Thus, chapter 7 reads somewhat sketchy and eclectically-put together. The chapter on “Obstacles to leadership in culture, society and church” (chapter 8) emerged from empirical data in a leadership class held at the African Theological Seminary in 1997. One could speculate that the interview findings reported in chapter 8 also shed light on why Jørgensen wrote the book with the wide-ranging coverage – to address issues that have emerged that needed attention.

Notwithstanding the value of the book, I have to admit that the tables and charts do not always illustrate clearly the author’s message. For instance, in Chapter 2, he has a chart to explain the distribution of leaders (i.e., how many of each type of leaders are needed in church and society, pp.11-13). At a glance, the chart suggests that 20,000 small group leaders, 4,000 usually unpaid leaders with influence over the whole congregation, 160 full-time leaders in various local settings in a congregation, 22 leaders with regional influence, and 5 leaders with tremendous indirect influence at national and international levels are needed. How Jørgensen arrived at the numbers is unclear. And even more mysteriously, these numbers are placed under the column, which is titled, “5 people” that “these leaders are in direct contact with.” The lack of clear and unambiguous correspondency between ideas and the visual message from reading the chart hinders the reception of the theory (see chart 12 for instance) even as the page-and-a-half description did not clarify the theory. I also wondered if the many ambiguities in the text exist because the material reads like a translated publication.

On the whole, the volume summarizes a fascinating range of theories on many aspects of leadership. The theories are not limited to Christian ministry. Jørgensen reviewed leadership theories that have been generated for secular, business, governmental, religious, and non-profit organizations. Some theories as recent as published in 2011 could be found in the volume. The author did offer his views on why certain American-developed theories differed from European, African, and Asian models. And although he did not discriminate or critique the theories cited (which resulting in the endorsement and reproduction of some findings that can easily be challenged, such as the taxonomy of The Globe Study of 62 Societies, 2004 claiming a “Confucian Asia and a Southern Asia” and a reductionistic classifying of world cultures into “Clusters of World Cultures”, cf. Jørgensen, pp. 54-58), the volume on the whole has brought together many studies on leadership and has distilled them down into summaries and accessible presentations. The volume may be used as a quick reference for busy leaders who need visual reminders on some of the theories that they are already familiar with; Jørgensen took pains to reproduce charts and visual aids to a good number of the theories, and most of the charts are self-explanatory. Learners at the early or preliminary stage of preparing for ministry may also find the volume helpful in jotting for them. Finally, if readers are willing to accept the shortcomings of the volume, I dare suggest that Equipping for Service may be an eye-opener for those who have yet had any preview on theories and practices of leadership.

Reviewed by Timothy T. N. Lim


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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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