Missional Leadership, Part 3

The first step in the process of bringing a church to embrace the Missional philosophy is to establish a clear vision of the church rooted in Scripture and the Missional principle of every-member-a-missionary. Will Mancini has keenly observed that many Missional churches, in their abandonment of some of the seeker-sensitive and modern church methods have unnecessarily (and to their own detriment) thrown out the concept of “vision.”[1] Mancini demonstrates that the lack of a clear vision for your church will create numerous problems. Mancini suggests that in the “vision vacuum” people will find something to unite around, citing the most common examples as: place, programs, and people. When, therefore, the leadership tries to change any one of these things the congregation will react with hostility, because, as they understand it, the essence of the church is bound up in one of these things.

In composing a vision, however, Mancini adds that Missional leaders must search out the one that is natural and innate within their church. Photocopying someone else’s ministry style and vision leads to frustration in a local church. Instead Mancini, says, we need to stop looking for the next conference, how-to-manual, or program to give life to our church. Each church is unique and its vision lies within its own culture. Mancini writes, “A better way of leadership includes the disciplines of careful observation, vibrant imagination, and demanding collaboration that forge a unique vision based on what God is uniquely doing in each church’s unique context.”[2] This strategy contains within it two elements key to Missional leadership: organic development, and cultural context. Mancini summarizes the nature of a unique vision stating that it includes “vision as a lifestyle.”[3] This means that the vision of the church does not look like an organizational, professional business vision statement, but rather it is a statement of how to live as the church. It’s not a statement of how to conduct business, but a vision for life. This reiterates the organic nature of the church, a concept near and dear to Missional philosophy. Mancini helps illustrate this point when he speaks on developing your “Kingdom Concept.”

Your “Kingdom Concept,” he says, is the unique vision that God has given your church. It is built out of three overlapping circles that make up the character of your congregation and context. These circles are as follows: (1) Local Predicament (What are the unique needs and opportunities where God has placed us?); (2) Collective Potential (What are the unique resources and capabilities that God brings together in us?); and (3) Apostolic Espirit (What particular focus most energizes and animates our leadership?). Mancini is quick to point out that this vision is different from the essential Biblical mandate given to all churches. He writes:

Your Kingdom Concept is not to “glorify God” or to “make disciples” in and of itself. These ideas reflect the Biblical mandate for every church. Rather, your Kingdom Concept is what differentiates you from every other church in how you develop followers of Christ for God’s ultimate honor.[4]

In other words, Mancini says, every church has the same mission and mandate, your vision is the unique way in which you carry out that same mission and mandate. Thinking carefully about your Kingdom Concept, then, and analyzing and answering the above questions, will be the means to shaping and clarifying your church unique vision.

[1] “The art of vision didn’t originate within [the church growth movement] and is in no way bound by it. For now, I hope that you can separate out any critiques of church growth from the practice of being visionary.” Mancini, Will. Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture culture, And Create Movement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. 38.

[2] Ibid. XXV.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid. 84.

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