A quick word association test:Â when I say â€œevangelical leader,â€ what comes to mind?
A critic of gay rights? A fierce defender of â€œfamily values?â€ A media-savvy preacher who blurs the lines between religion and politics?
Evangelical heavyweights like Focus on the Family founder James Dobson pioneered that brand of leadership.Â He and fellow broadcasters like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were big players in church and national politics.
ButÂ Christianity Today profilesÂ en emerging evangelicalÂ leader who’s offering a different leadership model.
Jim Daly, the newish president of Focus on the Family, is steering the group in a new direction, according to a lengthy profileÂ in the evangelical magazine by Sarah Pulliam Bailey.
Daly is trying to reduce the groupâ€™s emphasis on politics. He says he doesnâ€™t want Focus to be driven by a â€œpersonalityâ€ but by a sense of mission because mission-driven groups have “greater staying power.”
Daly told Christianity Today:
We tend to shut down the ears of people to hear the gospel because they only see you in a political context or as a conservative. Christianity must transcend politics in order to change culture and politics.
Dalyâ€™s predecessor, Dobson, may not share that point of view. The pugnacious Focus chief led the group to get involved in culture war issues such like opposing gay marriage and fighting back against the alleged â€œwar on Christmas.â€
Dobson, who founded Focus in 1977, once accused President Obama of holding a â€œfruitcake interpretation of the U.S. Constitutionâ€ and of deliberately distorting the Bible.
Dobson resigned as Focus board chairmanÂ in 2009.Â Baileyâ€™s piece said that he was â€œasked to resignâ€ at a board meeting. (Dobson declined several interview requests through an assistant, Bailey reported).
As the groupâ€™s president and chief executive officer, Daly’s leadership style is being felt ways big andÂ small.Â He has relaxed the dress code at the groupâ€™s headquarters – men can now go without a tie, and women donâ€™t have to wear dresses, skirts and pantyhose.
via Focus on the Family refocuses on, well, family â€“ CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs