In Regards to Mission in N. America: We Need A New Kind of Leader

We need a new kind of leadership for mission in N America.  The old protestant cultural consensus has been waning for some time in N America. The professionalized clergy, that served the church in this consensus, has served an important purpose. They still do the important work of maintaining congregations, nurturing them, even growing them. Yet the work here is largely with existing Christians, or the recruiting of latent or lax Christians back to vibrant Christian life. As N. America turns increasingly secular (over 60% is post-Christian), we need a new kind of leadership suited for missiological engagement.  We need a leadership shaped for presence in the neighborhood, the contextualized engagement with post-Christendom culture, for nurturing Christian witness in and among the lives of non-Christians. ” To this end, we meet at Lindner Conference Center (the space kindly donated to us by Northern Seminary) to discuss the missional implications of three kinds of leadership for church planting and church transformation.  Here they are:

Mutually Submissional Leadership:  The history of the entire Bible reveals how God works through leadership that is mutually submissive one to another and dispersed into the masses to accomplish His mission in the world.  From the Garden to Babel, to the Monarchy and Exile to Jesus and His new people, God works through submission. To centralize leadership top down draws people in and up. Ministry is  then de-contextualzied and instead “attractionalized.” Submissional leadership shapes vision outward, always ready to listen before vision casting, always leading within the submission to what others in Christ are seeing and their unique gifts. In the process God works to coalesce a community of the King in mission. We will discuss how this principle takes shape in the life of missional communities.

PolyCentric Leadership: Leadership is inherently multiple in the community of mission based at its core on the 5 fold gifting as outlined in Eph ch. 4:7-16. Jesus is Lord of the church, and His authority is not mediated via any one man or women. It is dispersed and located in the mutual relationship of 5 gifts. There are no 5-tool pastors. For a community to be fully equipped therefore and led into mission, there must be all 5 working together to then nurture the whole gifted body. So often the Christendom church has been pre-disposed to be led by a pastor/teacher. We lack apostles, evangelists and prophets. We will discuss how we need to recognize and submit to each others gifts in leading a community. How are the other manifold gifts of the body are nurtured by these gifts? Is there a priority (chronological or otherwise) in the development of these gifts? How are these gifts developed in the neighborhoods?

Bi-Vocational Leadership:  Indigenous leaders, leaders that lead from among, best begin by inhabiting the context (go and bring nothing with you Luke 10:4), earning his/her sustenance within and alongside that community, as opposed to coming to extract a living from people in this community (see Paul’s example in Acts 20:33-35, 2 Thess 3:8) The presumption that we pastors/leaders must earn our sustenance from people in the seats on Sunday morning changes dynamic of mission. It also changes nature of dynamic in established church. Bi-vocationalism overcomes these issues. It is never permanent but yet provides the condition upon which we can minister in a way which enables us to be present with and among. Instead of  pastor-client relationship, we instead are co-workers alongside the whole community as we fashion a sustainable life together in Mission. We will discuss the built in Christendom prejudices against this way of ministry, and the many mis-nomers about bi-vocationalism that prevent it from being realistic in today’s Christendom shaped church.


At the Missional Learning Commons (MLC) this year (the Saturday session 9-3:30 p.m.), we are having one session on each of these three topics. For each session we will have a.) 25 minute theological introduction. b.) at least 2 practicioners discussing the struggles involved in this way of leading, and c.) table time discussing “the biggest question I have about this way of leading a community”, and d.) 40 minutes of wide open discussion on the topic.

Every year, after MLC is over (3:30 p.m.), we head over to Harry’s and sit around and talk until we all must go home (different time for everybody depending on circumstances and stamina J  ) . It should be a rip roaring great time of building relationships!!

I will be emceeing this year. J R Woodward will be special guest, author of this book. We will be discussing his book Friday night. All registrants are invited.

We’re getting closer to closing registration. We have a good group coming so please register soon! Register here. It’s only 20 bucks (used for box lunch and childcare). There’s no hype, just real practicioners/thinkers talking real life practice. Join Us! Spread the word using this facebook page.

In the meantime, what do you think about these three ways of thinking about leadership? How do they change the dynamics of leading church into context? Are they possible? Comments as we head into Missional Learning Commons 201?

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