Part 1 of a 2 part interview featuring author, catalyst, and teacher, JR Woodward. JR recently released a book, The Scandal of Leadership: Unmasking the Powers of Domination in the Church. In an age where church leaders are hitting the news cycle for all the wrong reasons, JR details a theological outlook on WHY. If you’re connected to church leadership, church planting, or overall interested in diagnosing the deep systemic problems in church leadership, these two episodes will be for you. Both outline interesting theological insights (which is typically not the style of the Faith in a Fresh Vibe podcast). Listen in to learn more, and check out the episode summary for a snapshot.

Episode Summary

    – Discusses the shift in podcast focus towards church planting and leadership development.
    – Mentions Jr Woodward’s contribution to the book “Thrive” and introduces his new book, “The Scandal of Leadership.”

    JR’s Previous Books:
    – “Creating a Missional Culture”: Explores polycentric leadership and its connection to the New Testament.
    – “The Church as Movement”: Co-written with Dan White, Jr., focuses on a missional movement approach to being a church.

    Introduction to “The Scandal of Leadership”:
    – Jr’s third main book, addressing power dynamics in leadership.
    – The book is an attempt to diagnose and provide solutions to the issues of power abuse in the contemporary church.

    Framework: “The Powers” and Leadership:
    – Examines the concept of “the powers” in Scripture.
    – Discusses Walter Wink’s views on powers and how they shape sociological, psychological, and biological aspects.
    – Proposes re-mythologizing the powers for a more nuanced understanding.

    Domineering Leadership Problem:
    – Addresses the prevalent issue of power abuse, including spiritual and sexual abuse in churches.
    – Jr emphasizes the need to look at the issue mythologically, beyond psychological and sociological analyses.

    Naming the Powers: Image, Institution, Ideology:
    – Jr adopts William Stringfellow’s categorization of powers into image, institution, and ideology.
    – Image: The powers’ influence through self-image and desire.
    – Institution: Powers become problematic when seeking survival at the expense of others.
    – Ideology: The powers manifest through various -isms, shaping how individuals read and interpret Scripture.

    Introduction to Rene Girard:
    – Rene Girard’s background as a French scholar, literary critic, and anthropologist.
    – Girard’s initial exploration into literature led him to the concept of mimetic desire.

    Mimetic Desire:
    – Describes how desires are not self-generated but are influenced by models.
    – Girard’s discovery that mimetic desire is a triangular relationship where individuals desire what their models desire.

    Scapegoat Mechanism:
    – Girard’s exploration into anthropology and mythology.
    – Examines the role of mimetic rivalry leading to scapegoating in archaic societies.
    – Rituals and prohibitions aimed at preventing frequent scapegoating.

    The Bible and Revelation of Truth:
    – Girard finds the Bible unique in revealing the truth about mimetic desire and scapegoating.
    – Jesus as the willing scapegoat unveils the mechanism of scapegoating in society.
    – The resurrection reveals Jesus as an innocent victim, shifting the perspective from perpetrator to victim.

    Intelligence of the Victim:
    – Girard’s concept that societies with the Jesus story have the “intelligence of the victim.”
    – With this intelligence, societies are less likely to find peace through scapegoating.
    – Girard’s concern about the contemporary world and his focus on the apocalypse.

    End of Part 1:
    – The challenges posed by having the intelligence of the victim in today’s world.
    – The podcast delves into the complexity of power dynamics and leadership in the context of these frameworks.

About JR Woodward

JR Woodward, PhD (University of Manchester, UK) loves to awaken people to join God in the renewal of all things. He is a catalyst who has been passionately starting churches and ministries for the good of the world for over thirty years. He co-founded Missio Alliance and currently serves as the National Director for the V3 Church Planting Movement. He is an adjunct professor at several seminaries and universities, including Central Seminary, Missio Seminary, and America Evangelical University. He is the co-founder of the Praxis Gathering, and serves on six different boards, including Reliant Mission, Missio Alliance, and Fuller Global Mission Advisory Council. He is the author of Creating a Missional Culture and co-author of The Church as Movement. His most recent book, The Scandal of Leadership, is based on his PhD research and written to provide a remedy to the problem of domineering leadership in the church. He loves to surf, travel, read, and skateboard, as well as meet new people. He enjoys photography and film and tries to attend the Sundance Film Festival whenever he can. Find him on Twitter.

Faith in a Fresh Vibe
Faith in a Fresh Vibe
#71 - JR Woodward on the Scandal of Leadership (Part 1)