According to today’s new ‘Church Leadership’ standards Jesus was a clueless leader who obviously wasn't in tune with the 'worship experience' needs of His time and culture. Fact is, when you read the New Testament biographies you don’t read about Jesus discussing the latest leadership philosophies, the importance of vision casting, church branding strategies, church marketing practices or the latest ideas for designing and creating holistic audio visual environments to help create the perfect mood for people to have an engaging worship experience.
Instead, when you read the New Testament you discover that Jesus often taught outside and Jesus’ teaching events were far from seeker-sensitive. When you compare Jesus' leadership practices to the new and improved leadership principles of Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Leadership Network and others you'd have to conclude that Jesus was a complete failure as a leader and was in the dark when it came to meeting the felt needs of His target market.
A prime example of Jesus' utter cluelessness is found in the Gospel of Mark chapter 8. In the opening verses of that chapter we learn that Jesus held, for lack of a better term, a three day long “outdoor church conference” where He was the featured speaker. Here’s what Mark records about the event.
“In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” (Mark 8:1–3)
Yes, you read that correctly! Those who attended Jesus' three day long ‘outdoor church conference’ were outside, exposed to the sun, the wind and the elements. Oh and there was no food provided until the END of the event. What was Jesus thinking?!
Can you imagine the comments that Jesus and His disciples received in the customer satisfaction surveys after the event? I’m sure He got responses like the ones listed below.
Question: Were you satisfied with the location for this conference?
Answer: Are you kidding me?!? The Judean countryside is no place to hold a three day long church conference. Not only did I get a sunburn and a windburn, but the stench from 5,000 sweaty men being baked alive for three days totally ruined my ‘worship experience’.
Question: What did you think of Jesus' teaching?
Answer: First of all it’s difficult to listen to a man drone on and on and on for THREE DAYS without anything in your stomach. Why didn’t Jesus just keep His teaching down to 30 to 45 minutes? Seriously, how does Jesus expect us to remember all of that stuff? Laptops, the internet and Twitter haven’t even been invented yet and most of us are poor uneducated people and don’t have the resources to even take notes. It would have been way better if Jesus had passed around some handouts with fill in the blank sentences so that we could at least have some way of applying His relevant points to our lives and experience some ‘life change’. This was no way to motivate people to become world changers.
Question: What did you think of the food?
Answer: We were baking and starving in the sun for three days before the the first and only meal was served. Jesus waited until we were all ready to pass out from hunger and exposure before He decided to throw us a bone and miraculously divide up some bread and some fishes. Why did Jesus wait until the end of the conference to feed us? Why didn’t Jesus do that neat little miracle two or three times a day during the conference so that we didn’t have to listen to him on an empty stomach?
Question: What were your overall impressions of the conference and what would you like to see done differently at our future conferences?
Answer: Aside from the fact that I was hot, got sunburned, windburned, had to endure the smell of 5,000 sweaty Judean peasants while listening to a Bible teacher drone on for THREE DAYS without the ability to take notes or follow along on Powerpoint, with no porta potties and no food in an environment that is nearly impossible to have a descent worship experience...I thought the conference was a raging success (that was sarcasm). I’d rather be boiled in oil by the Romans than attend another outdoor teaching conference hosted by Jesus.
The way today’s Church Leadership Gurus talk you’d think that the New Testament was just brimming with Leadership wisdom ready to be picked and applied by today’s innovative visionary leaders. Yet, when I read the Gospel accounts, the leadership that Jesus modeled doesn’t even remotely look like the ‘new leadership’ that today’s gurus are selling. The reason for these differences is that Jesus' Leadership Model was never about customer satisfaction or positive customer experiences.
I know that I am running the risk of being branded as a "Leadership Heretic" but I think that there was something FAR MORE IMPORTANT happening at Jesus' three day long 'outdoor church conference' than religious consumers having their felt needs met or customers having a 'life changing experience'. The key to understanding what that "more important thing" was can be found in Matthew 4:4 which states:
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’””