Do you want to stop having to fill rotas and chase volunteers? Are you tired of trying to make things happen? Do you feel the attrition of everything ‘coming back to me’ whilst wrestling with the guilt of ‘If I don’t do it then no-one will?’ …..
Do you want to see lasting Kingdom-change in your sphere of influence; change that doesn’t depend on the sole charisma of a leader? Do you want to see the Kingdom of God continue to advance regardless of whether or not you are there to rally people into missional activity? Do you want to see people step up and take personal responsibility? Do you want to raise up an army of missional leaders who will disciple others, who will then disciple others and become a mobilised missional force? Do you want to see the everyday, ordinary people in your church raised up to lead, knowing who they are called to be and to whom they are sent?
If the answer to any of these is “yes”, then experience tells us that you will definitely need a way of doing what we are talking about today.
In our last post (part of a series looking at each of the “building blocks” that we believe to be important in seeing a kingdom missional movement established) we looked at why it’s essential to build a culture of discipleship. You can read this post on Building a Discipling Culture here. It’s quite simple: If you build a discipling culture well, you will start to see leaders emerge. The early church was founded and led whose only real qualification was that they had spent 3 years following Jesus and doing what He did. Followership produces leadership.
But how do you multiply your capacity for making disciples and therefore leaders? Our observation is that we need to have a strategy for putting this next building block of Multiplying Missional Leaders in place. If we’re going to move beyond the personal capacity of ourselves or the few experts around us we have to learn to multiply. After all, multiplication is what defines a movement.
Maybe you’re thinking this all sounds great but seems unachievable. Too often we think that if we could simply become more competent, gain more resources, and have more people then we’d see the change we long for. The problem is that even if we had all these things it wouldn’t be guaranteed to happen, and if it did it probably wouldn’t last. Or perhaps sometimes we begin to see leaders raised up and taking responsibility, but we’re not fully sure how this has happened or how to replicate it. So we put it down to a “season” or a “golden era” rather than thinking through how this could be a replicable and multipliable pattern and part of our culture.
Many of us will have been part of, or heard stories of churches which have seen significant missional growth under the leadership of a specific individual, only to see the work ebb away or quickly decline when that leader moves on. The “golden era” suddenly seems to fade into the past and we find ourselves waiting for the next inspirational individual. We need to break this cycle. In his book, Multiplying Missional Leaders, Mike Breen compares two locations where he was the senior leader:
“In Brixton Hill (Mike’s first senior leader post) I was a missionary who rallied the church around my missionary impulse. But it never became theirs. So when I left, they stopped rallying. In Sheffield I continued to be a missionary, but I learned how to transfer that missional DNA to a small group of people, who then did the same for others, who then did the same for others. A missional revolution began that has now spanned six continents.”
So how do we do this? How do we transfer missional DNA to a small group of missional leaders who will pass it on to others so that the movement continues to grow and multiply. As always, when we think of discipleship and leadership, we need to go back to the life of Jesus and the early church. When we look back to examine the early church one of the reasons it grew so extensively was because they had a way of reproducing the life of Jesus in disciples who were intentionally able to do the things we read about Jesus doing in the Gospels. This wasn’t just one generation – it was replicated generation after generation.
It sounds simple. And the pattern & process is. But simplicity is often much harder to live and lead! Most of us aren’t used to thinking and operating in this way. We’re used to functioning in church systems where leaders fill gaps to fulfil the vision of the senior leader, or making the various activities of the church happen, functioning more like managers than missional leaders – one genius with a thousand helpers. Or one person filling a thousand roles!
Missional leaders don’t just manage events or programmes at a church. When we raise up missional leaders we are training them to hear the voice of God and discern where He is sending them, whilst also helping them to come up with a plan of action to which we will hold them accountable. The onus is on them to implement the vision, whilst remaining accountable to a more senior leader and to do this in community or with a team. We call this “low-control/high accountability” because there is lots of freedom for a missional leader to follow and execute a vision in the way they feel called, within accountable relationships.
Releasing these kinds of missional leaders in our churches can feel more risky as we relinquish control. But it’s infinitely more fruitful.
The senior leader still carries the overarching vision but within that vision other leaders are released to gain vision from the Lord for themselves and given the power and authority to execute that vision. For example, at St Thomas Church, Philadelphia the overarching vision from the senior leader at the time, Paul Maconochie, was to “Call a city back to God”. Missional leaders were then asked to consider what their role within this was, being given freedom to hear the Lord for themselves and live this out within the general vision of “calling a city back to God”
Our belief is that as Missional Leaders operate with a community or team they become ones who pass on missional DNA through their lifestyle, as well as teaching, to a small group of people, who each pass it onto another small group, and so on. In Multiplying Missional Leaders we address just how to do this. We offer practical tools that will help you identify, recruit and develop missional leaders who can then multiply themselves.
When we look at the life of Paul and Jesus in Scripture we see that they didn’t just produce missional leaders by accident. They had a systematic way of doing this with just a few people. You can see the progression and development of ordinary men as the first disciples being mobilised to be the early church that we are the echo of today. We hear Paul talk of Timothy (1 Corinthians 4) as being his representative, demonstrating Paul’s pattern of life and values. In MML we look at the biblical model of how these missional leaders were identified, trained and deployed.
Whether you have an army of volunteers who you want to train to become missional leaders or whether you have multiple gaps and want to start to create a culture that will in time produce missional leaders the principles & practices in MML will help to do this.
For more on these principles and practices you can read the book, Multiplying Missional Leaders which you can buy on our online shop.
We also run a three day Learning Community gathering every six months, with a total of four gatherings over a two-year period. Each Learning Community focuses on a particular “block”, building on each other through the process.)