Missional Leadership, Part 6

Previous models of church leadership sought to generate programs and strategies that had specific applications and required specific methods. The members then would hop on board this program and follow it to the letter, until it ran its course. Then they would wait for the next program to come along. What this leads to is an environment where members can’t do missions, they wait for the church to assign them a mission. This makes ministry an imposed idea, not a natural part of life. In contrast to this approach Missional leaders seek to create and cultivate an environment where Christians can readily discern and see what God is already doing and calling them to do individually and corporately. There is no church designed program, no scheduled event, it is life lived out regularly. This means ministry doesn’t necessarily flow down from the top but blossoms from within the community of Christians itself. Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk have more clearly articulated this point, perhaps, than anyone. In their book Missional Leadership they write:

Rather than the leader having plans and strategies
that the congregation will affirm and follow, cultivation describes the leader as the one who works the soil of the congregation so as to invite and constitute the environment for the people of God to discern what the Spirit is doing in, with, and among them as a community.
[1]

Cultivation, as the authors like to describe it, is the new form of leadership. This too reflects the organic nature of the church. The church is like a plant that requires the right kind of soil in order to grow. It is the soil of grace (i.e. the community of grace) that builds people up, that allows them to connect with the mission, that opens up the avenue for them to discern God’s will for them and their community as a whole. This organic concept, so crucial to the Missional church, is the key determining factor, then, between Missional leaders and traditional leaders.

Missional leaders are not CEOs and organizational executives. Rather they are shepherds and gardeners. They have authority, yes. It is theirs by virtue of God’s empowering them and calling them as pastors, but it is an authority they exercise differently than many pastors have done in previous centuries. It is an authority that they exercise through relationships. It is power through influence, not through demand. It is organic leadership, that which grows out of their working, living, and caring. Not out of their mere presence as the pastor, not out of their position (as the one holding the microphone on Sunday mornings, etc.) or their paycheck. This means practically that pastors don’t demand followers, they earn them. It means that they spend more time with people than they do with programs. It means they build into organisms and not into organizations. It means that they partake in personal discipleship and not simply mass proclamation. This is the key to unlocking real Missional leadership: viewing the church, and (by implication) leadership, as organic.


[1] Roxburgh, Alan and Fred Romanuk. Missional Leadership: Equipping Your Church To Reach A Changing World. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006. 28.

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