I’m not getting through Roxburgh and Romanuk’s ‘The missional leader’ very fast at all here. That’s mostly because I could blog something from every page they write nearly! Here’s another thought…
Beginning with the lived experience, a congregation cultivates its participation in the emergence of the missional imagination. Participation does not mean involvement in something already planned for them by their leaders, but involvement in action emerging from among them. This is why leadership is about cultivating an environment that can call forth this kind of imagination.
This is the kind of leadership I believe in. To the generation that goes before me, it can look like ‘lazy leadership’. And it’s true: in a sense it is lazy and I accept that it will probably never build the megachurches that this generation has built.
But that is also the point. As perhaps the first generation that has never known any worldview apart from the odd jumbled-up combination of modern and postmodern philosophies that characterises life today, we aren’t so interested in the old ways of modernism. Top-down structures, CEO leadership, megachurches, authority that comes from position rather than influence…these are not our ways. They look ordered. They look rational. They look practicable. In short, they are everything that modernism celebrates. And, during the time that the church’s leaders were without exception the children of modernism, this type of leadership worked. And I don’t doubt that God has been in it. He has been with you!
But God is a creative God who delights in doing new things. Many (usually the die-hard moderns) bemoan the encroachment of postmodernism. But (as a product of the jumbled-up modern/postmodern worldview) I’d suggest to you that we should treat postmodernism simply as a context, no better and no worse than what preceded it. We adapt our methods to the context but not so as to lose the very essence of the message.
So, for us, it may never be about megachurches again. Our idea of success seems to be local communities of Jesus-followers who are serious about whole-life discipleship and loving the poor. If we can get every disciple to live what they believe, we will have succeeded. It’s small-scale, but we believe that we will impact our communities by one person relating to another, rather than by massive ‘come and see’ church invitational programmes.
I think that the Spirit is moving through this new ‘lazy leadership’ style to lead us toward this goal so desired by the current generation of leaders. I saw it this weekend when a bunch of people (about a quarter of our Sunday regulars) went to a couple of estates in South London and did outreach. The leadership team didn’t go (instead we stayed home and worked!). We didn’t even organise it – it was not ‘planned for them by their leaders’. This action really ’emerg(ed) from among them’.
I’m sure the people on the estate were blessed by it. But I think our people benefitted even more. They thought they would not enjoy it but they came back with their ‘missional imagination’ fired. So they’ve decided. We’re doing it again in December! But more locally this time. And you know what? I think the leadership team will take just as much of a back seat again then. We might get stuck in down there serving but we’ll be as low-profile as we know how to be.
As a last thought, in case you really think this is ‘lazy leadership’, let me point you to Ephesians 4:11-14. The local leadership of the body is given that the saints (not the leaders) might do the work of ministry, and that we might all attain to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. So often, leaders have done the work of the ministry themselves and offered programmes to achieve the maturity of the saints. I think the Bible is in favour of ‘lazy leadership’ which pushes the saints towards maturity through ministry. Are you with me on this one?!