The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2021
Advent / Christmas Calendar
Leadership, God’s Agency, and Disruptions:
Confronting Modernity’s Wager
Alan Roxburgh / Mark Lau Branson
Paperback: Cascade Books, 2021
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Mark Lau Branson and Alan Roxburgh’s new book Leadership, God’s Agency, and Disruptions may very well be the best leadership book that I have ever read. Leadership books, as a genre, tend to make me ill. Even those oriented at Christian leaders tend to bear little resemblance to the character and leadership of Jesus. Out of my intuitive sense of this incongruity, I have spent more energy than I care to admit over the last two decades trying to critique these sorts of books. Branson and Roxburgh, however, offer a full-throated critique of the ways that leadership has been misunderstood and abused in Christian communities over the last several decades. But Leadership, God’s Agency, and Disruptions is more than simply critique, it draws upon the witness of scripture and theology to offer a keen imagination for what more-Christ-like leadership might look like in our times. Leadership, they write,
is neither the creation of a vision nor the implementation of projects; it is the formation of a people in their local places who are discerning how God is making all things new in the name of Christ. This happens through a community’s liturgical life as well as its practices of dwelling with the people of a neighborhood. … In such communities, leadership means forming a people in practices of discernment. Such leadership dwells comfortably in the ambiguity of trial and error, knowing that acting can never be perfect, “right,” or complete because we see through a glass darkly and the times of completion are in God’s hands. Leadership is, therefore, both humble and patient; it is about dwelling with and attending to the ferment of the Spirit, suggesting where the Spirit might be filling imaginations and encouraging risk.
This book is a meaty one, weaving together critical theory, scripture, theology, and practice, and one that will certainly merit multiple readings. In a word, it is iconoclastic, breaking down all our notions of leadership, so that the Spirit of God can ignite in us new and more faithful ways of being the people of God.
- ERB Editor C. Christopher Smith
READ an excerpt from this book…