Philosophy of LEADERSHIP

At, we operate with a system of decentralized leadership.  All Partner Districts are deeply loyal Nazarenes.  We follow Jesus’ call to practice servant leadership. We believe if we are participants in the global Nazarene Network and share the values of Christian, Holiness, Missional, relationships, reproducing, resources and residencies, the multiplication of healthy networks of churches happens much faster if no one person or group controls it.  

We recognize the world is changing around us.  Communication beyond district boundaries must happen. For healthy networks of churches to accelerate, catalysts must be raised up to lead and multiply networks of churches throughout the world.  Reaching the emerging global cities of the world will require people from Chicago to collaborate with people from Germany, from Africa and beyond.  It is a different world, a new world in which our global Nazarene Network is a gift of the Holy Spirit! Jesus the Nazarene is the ultimate leader of a multitude of unique, new Nazarene networks that are emerging.  A book about this global, networking world that has impacted our thinking and inspired us to think of a multitude of Nazarene “hybrid” networks is summarized below.


The Starfish and the Spider    

The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations
Penguin Books, by Ori Brafman & Rod Beckstrom


The World is Changing
There is a massive difference between the way a centralized organization and a decentralized organization operates.  We are living in a world that is fast moving toward decentralization and in many ways it has already arrived.

Starfish / Spider Lessons…
Starfish and spiders look alike, they both have arms.  But a starfish doesn’t have a head.  If you cut a starfish in half, it won’t die.  Instead, you’ll have two starfish!  The starfish is a decentralized, neutral network of cells.  Unlike a spider, there is no central command. The book contends the best organizations of the future will be “hybrids,” part spider, part starfish.

Impact of the Internet
Since the Industrial Revolution, people communicated by mail, telegraph or telephone.  The Internet has changed everything for everyone in the 21st century. In the new world, traditional CEOs are being replaced within growing organizations by catalysts.  Below is how thinking is changing.

The Boss A Peer
Command/Control Trust
Rational Emotional Intelligence
Powerful Inspirational
Directive Collaborative
Order Ambiguity
Organizing Connecting

3 Examples of Decentralization in Industry:  

  • Skype goes up against AT&T and wins

  • Craigslist erases newspaper revenues

  • Wikipedia bankrupts Britannica +

What are the key components of a decentralized learning community?

The Five Legs of Powerful Decentralized “Communities” 

Leg #1: Circles        (small, relational)

Leg #2: Catalysts    (they inspire connection)

Leg #3: Values        (Christian, Holiness, Missional)

Leg #4: Pre-existing network     (we have this like few churches do!)

Leg #5: Champions   (they innovate and multiply)


Rules in the Future World of Decentralization:

Rule #1:  Small can be better.

Rule #2:  The value of the network.

Rule #3:  Creativity & chaos are together.

Rule #4:  Knowledge is at the edge.

Rule #5:  Everyone wants to contribute.

Rule #6:  Be careful what we criticize.

Rule #7:  Why do catalysts rule?  Because they inspire.

Rule #8:  The values we share ARE the organization, the church.

Rule #9:   We want to measure, monitor & manage the right things.

Rule #10: We aim to keep empowering and multiplying the network.


Finding the Sweet Spot Between a Centralized & Decentralized Church

•      the hybrid organization of the church

•      enough decentralization for creativity but sufficient structure for consistency

•      we must support our leaders as they focus on the large issues for us

•      we aim to keep improving our “listening” culture & to keep learning within it

•      we are committed to continual innovation & on-going Nazarene learning


10 Questions for Reflection:

1. What steps can we take to keep building higher levels of trust throughout the church?

2. What are the current culture blockages to building higher levels of trust?

3. How can we allow people to offer their ideas without being categorized or put into a “pre-judged” box?  

4. How do we encourage and foster the freedom to question, to dialogue, to participate in decision-making so everyone in multiple Nazarene networks owns those decisions?

5. What new structures are needed to encourage collaboration and innovation?  

6. How can districts better facilitate this collaboration throughout the Nazarene network?

7. What can we do as district leaders to decentralize and empower new leaders? 

8. How can we distribute knowledge and influence rather than concentrating it?

9. How can we make the districts more flexible and effective in their operations?

10. As leaders, what can what we do to decentralize, empower and strengthen the Nazarene network worldwide?