Friday, September 11, 2009

Missional Leadership

Modern church leadership has drawn deeply from the structures and methods of the business world.  While many of the leaders employing these methods do not typically embody a hierarchical attitude, the “CEO” or “top down” structures in churches place pressure on leaders to use power and authority in a worldly manner in order to “draw a crowd” and “get things done”.

The temptation in this approach is to mistake the execution of well-run programs, the gathering of large groups of people into events, and the swelling of budgets and specialization of staff in disparate programs as success.  This attractional mindset - that widespread participation in various programs of the church produces transformation – has been tested, found wanting, and yet prevails even in churches much larger than our own1,2.

If it is assumed that our leadership structures are effective, we will naturally measure “attraction” (participation) in and assume that equates to transformation.  Indeed, the bible mostly refers to such phenomena pejoratively3,4,5, 6 .

Biblically, groups and individuals transformed by the gospel constitute success.  The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus who have been taught to observe his commandments.  Missional leadership methods prioritize and value the missionary nature of the church over contemporary attractional programs & methodology.
Missional versus traditional Attractional Churches* 
(Missional / Attractional) :
(“Go out” mentality  / “Come In” mentality);
(Emphasis on transformation & action / Emphasis on words & information);
(“Community” formation focused / “Event” formation focused);
(Environmentally sensitive / Environmentally indifferent);
(Everything is mission-oriented / Missions one among many programs);
(Values driven / Methodology & Program driven);
(Thinking holistically / Emphasis on disparate programs);
(“Diachronic” reading of the bible / “Synchronic” reading of the bible);
(More organic, grassroots - bottom up / More business structured, top down);
(Typically smaller churches / Frequently large churches);
(Small budgets, fewer paid staff / Large budgets, many paid staff);
(Priesthood of all believers / Clear demarcation between pastors/laity);
(Younger congregations / Older, baby-boomer congregations)
 *adapted from Biola Magazine “The Church in a Missional Age”, Spring 2009

1.       Willow Creek Community Church conducted a multiple-year qualitative study of its ministry.  Please watch the 13 minute video of the findings by Greg Hawkins, Executive Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church at  
2.       An article covering Willow Creek’s changes to their “attractional model” 
3.       Matthew 15:3, 8-9.    
4.    Colossians 2:8.   
5.    Luke 11:42-43.  
6.    Matthew 6:5

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