Entrusted With Much
On October 18-19 there was an experiment simultaneously held in two locations—Singapore and Chicago, with a combined attendance of 350. The topics were virtually the same but the approaches were slightly different. This report informs readers of the genesis of the idea, the formation of the team, an initial perception of both events, where more information about the events can be found, a Message Out preceding a collective report to come later.
Entrusted With Much
The Christian Professional Leadership Summits in Singapore and Chicago
By Steve Staten and John Louis
“All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded”—Exodus 35:10
The story of the Christian Professionals Summit began in 2011 when Steve Staten – an evangelist/teacher and Tom Lombardi, an executive coach – met in Chicago with a group of about a dozen Christian entrepreneurs. Their discussions included the biblical idea of discovering one’s calling in life, and how to enhance the partnership between ministers and people of other vocations.
In 2012, Steve and Tom followed up with this meeting by putting together an informal coalition of ministers and professionals from around the US and Asia to help develop these ideas even further. And in February of this year, this group of nearly 20 planners and spouses met personally and via conference call in Miami to discuss the possibility of a conference to address the great needs and opportunities in this area.
It became obvious that the initial scope of the conference needed to be focused upon building closer relationships between business professionals and ministry leaders. We came away with a vision of developing a dynamic and mutually encouraging partnership between our business leaders and ministry professionals. In fact, there are multitudes of references in Scripture where collaboration among those having pivotal roles in God’s Kingdom are highlighted, ranging from artisans, musicians, craftspeople, civic leaders, farmers, and so on.
Once this focus was agreed upon, it became evident that it would be difficult to have significant international representation if the first summit was held in the US. So, it was decided to have two simultaneous summit events, one near Chicago and the other in Singapore. We presented our endeavor to the Evangelists, Elders and Teachers Teams for support. They made some helpful suggestions and so we posted their blessing on the main Entrusted With Much website.
One early goal was to have equal representation of business professionals and ministers, hopefully coming from the same congregations. Therefore, a unique feature or this event was that the first one, would be by invitation only – not to exclude a larger participation but to cultivate specific partnerships from local churches that would lead to greater attendance in the future. However, in the US it was simply not possible to gain more attendance without further notice so that summit was opened up through advertising on Disciples Today one month out.
Prior to the summit, each attendee was asked to fill out a survey and was given a devotional series written by Steve Staten, Called Lives. Then on October 18-19, 2013 the Chicago and Singapore Christian Professional Leadership Summits occurred, where participants were able to explore both old and new ground.
Day 1 involved four tracks. In Chicago there were two facilitators for each: Leadership: Strategic Partnering for Reaching our City, Alignment: How to Optimize Decisions, Wealth: the True Measure of Success, and Legacies: Being a Catalyst for Kingdom Purposes. Singapore’s summit had four groups of facilitators under each of the tracks, Entrusted with Gifts, Entrusted With Partnership, Entrusted With Wealth, and Entrusted With Responsibility.
Day 2 was designed to hear four TED style presentations, with both formal and audience responders throughout the day.
By Steve Staten
On Day 1 there were about 110 participants in four tracks. On Day 2 there were about 140 in attendance. Most of the participants came from the US but we had a few attend from Canada, the Caribbean and Africa. There was a mix of race, gender and roles among the facilitators, presenters and responders.
We were under-represented with full-time ministers due, in part, to the fact that the announcement of the summits came months after 2013 ministry travel budgets were set. Nonetheless, we had Wyndham and Jeannie Shaw, Sam Laing, Todd Asaad, John Lusk, Bruce Williams and two-dozen others in attendance.
Three of the sessions utilized two case studies in fictional settings called Megalopolis and River City. In preparation for the summit the attendees were able to read the same stories and see the challenges in advance. Two of the facilitator teams created role-plays within those case studies, which enabled people to play roles opposite of their real role but comment on both. This increasingly popular method of problem solving enables people to switch seats, and learn from the perspectives of others as they share their own. There were occasional opportunities to discuss the lessons as they might translate into real life back in their home congregations. An eight-question response form served as preliminary feedback for those two days, and showed overall support for the format.
Due to time constraints of the CPLS team we have not assimilated and reviewed all the feedback from the Chicago summit but some things are certain. First, there were plenty of positive and energetic conversations that overflowed from the sessions throughout the weekend. These created a sense of hope and anticipation. Second, each of the four tracks, their presentations and crowd responses left clear impressions and helpful “take aways” that we will report later. Third, we can navigate differences by “thinking together” alongside each other even when we don’t necessarily think alike. We endorsed the role of creative tension in our sessions, which we observed and learned from. This aided in the forging of new relationships, new projects that are being considered and even private reconciliations. Fourth, the impressions that we heard were “I wish _____________ had been here to see and experience these discussions and how they played out. We need more of this!” and “This effort was worth it but now we need next steps.” To that end we collaboratively developed a Message Out in front of the participants.
Inquiring ministers and business professionals can access the schedule, bios of facilitators and presenters, case studies that were used and the Message Out at: www.chicagochurch.org/EntrustedWithMuch
The link also holds an audio download of Frank Kim’s opening devotional, called A Historical/Personal Perspective and the fourth Presentation with Responses by Gary Jacques, Alex Hunter and Pat Gempel.
By John Louis
The total number who attended the Singapore summit is 210: Indonesia (47), Malaysia (16) and Singapore (90) = 153. An additional 57 came from Myanmar (4), Thailand (4), Vietnam (14), Korea (5), Japan (7), India (5), Sri Lanka (2), Russia (4), Cambodia (4), Hong Kong (4), China (2), and the Philippines (2).
The format was guided to leave people plenty of time to talk about each subtopic, which collectively were the goals we wanted to achieve at this summit. The goals and tracks were: Partnership with staff, Responsibility to the mission, Using our Wealth and Using our Gifts. We had all the groups cover one of these four topics (goals) and talk only about only these in their presentations. This made the goals of the Singapore CPLS very clear.
It was helpful to hear the perspective of the lay leaders. Many of them want the partnership with the full time staff and vice versa. Several individuals in Indonesia stood out as being great examples, as did some in Singapore. I really appreciated the insights and have made immediate changes. I talked with our staff here already about implementing further steps to enhanced the cooperation and collaboration between all sides/roles.
David and Wai Yee, from Singapore, organized the summit logistics and they are updating our material, found at: http://seachurchesmedia.org/cpls/
I believe that the Message Out from the US summit overall resonates with the experience from the SEA region. It appeared that the degree of partnership varied greatly among churches represented in Singapore. There are regions that perform strong in this category, such as Indonesia. There are still underlying fears need to be identified in the lead ministers as well as in the other full-time staff, and in the lay leaders. And in some places, some kind of reconciliation needs to take place for this partnership to go forward. In a few cases, the summit has already begun to help facilitate reconciliation.
I would like to see a regular bulletin /newsletter going out to help keep participants and other business professionals and ministers connected with one another. We will be talking about how to best strengthen our partnerships and communicate developments. I think we need to do this on a global scale as well. By having good news written and circulated, this will also help those in greater need. For example, if we wrote about testimonies of progress and even reconciliation between lay members and leaders, this would help promote partnership.
Of course, partnership is not just about business professionals and ministers—it is ultimately about every Christian fulfilling a valued role in the body of Christ, working well with the other valued parts (1 Corinthians 12:5-27).
From the planning of the summit and throughout the summit conversations, we heard people refer to Ezra the priest/teacher and Nehemiah, the civic leader. Where would Judah and its temple have been without Ezra, who led the way in interpreting the Scriptures in the period when Nehemiah was inspiring the building of Jerusalem’s walls (Neh. 8)? And Proverbs 22:29 could have been about Nehemiah who persuaded a secular King to aid his work on behalf of God’s people, “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”
Together Ezra and Nehemiah were used by God to help usher in a new era of hope in Bible history. Perhaps the next step is for each of us to further develop our own spiritual stature. Then we will be ready for the opportunities and predicaments that await us. Meanwhile, there will be a few more updates, especially after we have reviewed each of the participant’s response cards. Whether this experiment shapes other conferences by providing new tracks, or the development of a publication or website resource, or results in a larger conference stands to be seen.
The present CPLS team is committed to several next steps. First, we will review all feedback from Summit participants, and convene a follow up meeting to carefully consider best steps forward, including the make-up of a new planning committee. Second, develop a suggested list of guidelines for anyone planning to use present and future material of the Christian Professional Leadership brand in their churches. Third, practically consider the suggestion of a follow up Professional Leadership Conference to take place in the spring of 2015. A Call to Action will follow our review. And we plan to coordinate closely with the Evangelists, Elders and Teachers Service Teams and discuss next steps at our joint meeting in late March.
Meanwhile, some of the church leadership groups represented have gotten busy making new plans, fully utilizing the talent and experience of members as they go out together to reach their cities.
NOTE: The full 2013 Chicago and Singapore CPLS team is comprised of Antonio Boyd, Tom Brown, Everett Darby, Vivian Hanes, Alex Hunter, Randy Jordan, Frank Kim, Valdur Koha, Sam Laing, Casey Lee, Tom Lombardi, John Louis, Harliem Salim, Steve Staten, and Kiky Suherlan, which included contributions from many of their spouses.