When yet another “Evangelical Manifesto” appeared this week, I noted the absurdity of even attempting to speak for “evangelicals” given the collapse of hierarchies brought about by new media. I then asked Randy Elrod for a comment on the situation the church finds itself in as the new technologies empower literally hundreds of thousands of individual Christians to follow their calling in dramatically independent ways. Randy has spent more time mentoring talented young worship leaders and artists than anyone I know, and I frequently read his remarkable blog Ethos as well as the very long list of blogs he has helped launched. Here’s Randy’s response:
The Death Of The Alpha Leader
By Randy Elrod
We now live in an automagical world. A world that is composed of not one future, but multiple futures. A world of self-chosen communities or tribes that are nodes in large, complex networks of such groups. A world in which hierarchal pyramids of control are crumbling and the Taylorism world of precise affluence has become a Web 2.0 world of mystical influence and social networks.
Viral loops, not manifestos, provide the opportunity for unparalleled influence. This is a world in which documents handed down by well-meaning alpha males result in a stifled yawn. However, this same world moves to the edge of their seat upon realizing that the responsibility to change the world need not be their legacy or burden. On the contrary, the creation of culture is the calling from which history speaks.
For example, Compassion International recently asked me to help form a group of influential bloggers for a historic trip to Uganda. A trip in which we visited slums, HIV/Aids hospitals and projects each morning. We then blogged, created video, and recounted stories raw with reality and emotion each afternoon. Thousands of people around the world followed our eight day journey real-time and over 400 children were sponsored and rescued from poverty. The viral loop that was created spawned hundreds of additional posts and offered the opportunity for thousands of additional people to experience the trip in an automagical way.
This “automagic” tested the corporate structure of Compassion. The trip was completely out of their control. The blog posts were not softened or censored and the videos and art spawned were not pre-approved by the marketing department. The servant leaders of this large organization flexed and collaborated to create culture.
Servant leaders have the ability to provide a new type of leadership. A collaborative mentoring and releasing of people with varied and mystical gifts in order to create culture. Alpha leaders value control, servant leaders value collaboration. Alpha leaders value individualism, servant leaders value community. Alpha leaders value affluence, servant leaders value influence.
Today, it is through viral loops that movements really snowball. In their latest issue, Fast Company says, “A destination such as Facebook grows via invitations, with each “friend” reaching out to her own set of contacts, which in turn do the same. More than half of the undergraduate population at Harvard joined within a month of Facebook’s 2004 launch; four years later, it has 67 million active users. And at its current 3% weekly expansion rate, it will have 200 million users by the end of the year, equal to the population of the fifth-largest nation on earth.”
This is not yesterday. It is today. Millions of cultural creatives offer a more hopeful future(s) and are converging for profound change. This convergence is a quiet revolution without manifestos or alpha leaders. This story is one that begs ten thousand tellers and then ten times more to be inspired by it.