Missional Leadership, Part 5

An important point needs to be made at this juncture, however: just because the church as a whole (congregation and leadership) have embraced the vision does not mean that the life of mission will directly result. It is a crucial step in the process of constructing a Missional church, but it is not the final or culminating step. There is still a place for leadership in the aftermath of creating vision disciples. The leadership’s responsibility now is to demonstrate the living out of the mission. It is leadership in Missional exemplification. Again Robert Coleman highlights this point. Speaking of the manner in which Jesus trained missionaries he says:

The method of Jesus was more than a continuous sermon; it was an object lesson as well. This was the secret of his influence in teaching. He did not ask anyone to do or be anything which first he had not demonstrated in his own life, thereby not only proving its workability, but also its relevance to his mission in life.[1]

Coleman then applies this directly to our lives as contemporary leaders of the church when he says:

When it is all boiled down, those of us who are seeking to train people must be prepared to have them follow us, even as we follow Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). We are the exhibit (Phil 3:17f; 1 Thess. 2:7, 8; 2 Tim. 1:13). They will do those things which they hear and see in us (Phil. 4:9).Given time, it is possible through this kind of leadership to impart our ways of living to those who are constantly with us.[2]

As they live out their lives before the congregation leaders will show their people what a Missional life looks like, and what, practically, the playing out of the church vision looks like. This gives the congregation a model to follow. Darrell Guder realized this when he wrote, “Being at the front [of the church] means that leadership lives into and incarnates the Missional, covenantal, future of God’s people.”[3] The pastor(s) bring the church into the future realization of their mission by living it out in the present.

To be clear, however, it is not as though leadership’s example is meant to bind people to a particular look. Missional leaders do not simply wish for copy-cat lifestyles, but rather the model is an example in general principles, not necessarily specifics. The leadership’s second role after creating vision disciples is to cultivate an environment where Christians can more readily discern God’s call for them individually and as a community.[4]

[1] Coleman. 76.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Guder. 212. 

[4] It should probably be said that cultivation is an ongoing process, from beginning to end, for the pastor. We have already seen how cultivation of a community of grace plays a part in communicating the vision. For sake of clarity, however, I have constructed this process. Perhaps we should think in terms of maintaining the culture rather than from starting to cultivate at this point.

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