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4 Ingredients of Missional Leadership

Outward Focused

 

     Recently, I have been asked to meet with the staff of three churches.  They all had the same passion; “We want to do a better job of reaching our communities for Christ!”  That is music to my ears!  The leadership of all three churches was trying to break the “missional code” of their community and discern what door God was providing for them to walk through so they could more effectively reach people far from God.  They had a good grasp of what they did well but they also desperately wanted to improve in penetrating the lostness of their city!

     There are three things about this that thrill me.  First, the passion and heart they have to share Christ.  They want to make a difference.  Second, their willingness to examine their effectiveness and change.  They desired input and were not afraid of being evaluated.  Third, they all voiced a discontent with the status quo.  They refused to just go through the motions of doing church and had a burden to be the church.  They were trying to discern how they could better mobilize their membership to live on mission throughout the week!

     These leaders were greatly burdened for their church to be the church Jesus intended them to be.  There are three elements involved in healthy churches.  First, is the church Biblical?  Is the Bible seen and preached as the authoritative word of God?  All three of these churches have an extremely high view of the scriptures and I have not worked with a church that does not!  No heresy found!  Second, Is the church Relational?  All three voiced how well the membership got along and visitors commented on how friendly they were.  Just a side note: People are not looking for a friendly church as much as they are looking for friends! 

     Third, is the church Missional?  This area is the greatest challenge to most churches.  It is easy to become comfortable and satisfied because the word is being preached and everyone is enjoying being together.  The problem is, if we are not careful, we become inwardly focused.  In U-Turn Church, Kevin Harney puts it this way, “The gravitational force of the church naturally pulls us inward, toward each other.  If we are going to move outward toward those who are lost it will take more energy than most of us dream!” 

     What effort will be put into reaching the lost, the last, and the least with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  I noticed several ingredients necessary for a church to be led toward being outwardly focused:

     First, the leaders must be outwardly focused!  Don’t expect those who follow you to catch what you are teaching unless they see you demonstrating it in your life.  The speed of the leaders will determine the speed of the team.. You must have a story to tell of how you are sharing His story with others.  When asked, are you able to share who you are actively praying for, building a relationship with, and striving  to bring to Christ?  Do others see your passion to share Christ daily as God gives you the opportunity?

     Second, the church regularly celebrates stories of transformation.  Unfortunately, many churches are not very good at celebrating the right things.  We become what we celebrate and if we celebrate the wrong things then our culture will be inwardly focused.  Think about ways you can  creatively celebrate life transformation and those who are committed to making a difference.  Consider interviewing them during a service, showing a video of their outreach ministry, and others ways you can celebrate those who are living a missional lifestyle. 

     Third, they also celebrate those who are being the church during the week not just doing church on Sunday.  This does not mean we do not celebrate those serving the Lord in the ministries on the campus of the ministry but that we also make an intentional effort to celebrate those living as missionaries in their zip code.  It is not an either/or but a both/and commitment to celebrating both.  Make sure you regularly recognize those who are volunteering in local ministries, schools. hospitals, civic groups, etc.  They are penetrating the darkness in your community with the truth. 

     Fourth, they are not afraid to find out what other churches are doing and learn from them.  These leaders are always actively looking for ways to better connect with their city and their neighborhoods.  They refuse to sit idly by waiting for the lost to enter their buildings, attend their services, or sign up for a Bible study.  They are pursuing them by loving them and displaying the love of Christ to them in practical ways.  They are more concerned about serving their city than they are about building their church. 

     Healthy churches have leaders who are always working hard at remaining outwardly focused!