The course on which I am currently studying is excellent. But there is one module with which I, and many others, are struggling: Missional Leadership. The focus of the syllabus is around how we can lead our churches to grow numerically and spiritually. So far so good. But the content is based round a number of models, mainly taken from secular management and fitted into a church context. The problem is, they don’t fit.
People today are in many ways more individualistic than previous generations. But they are also seeking relationship, and that relationship has to be genuine. The Millennials and younger will see immediately if they are being put through a “sausage factory”. When it comes to evangelism, discipleship, and church growth, one size doesn’t fit all any more, if it ever did.
To be fair to the college, none of the models are being held up as the solution to everything – they are being suggested as tools from which we can pick those that will help in our context. The problem is, I’m not sure any of them do. Because no model, tool, or strategy, however good, can replace genuine, loving relationship. People are individuals, with their own needs, hopes, questions, and aspirations. Jesus knew that, and he approached each person he encountered in a unique way which would deal directly with what they needed in their situation. We don’t have his insight, so for us that will take costly time and effort to get to know people, but it is time and effort we must be prepared to commit.
Ultimately, what will attract people to Jesus Christ, will encourage them into relationship with him, and will enable them to grow and deepen that relationship, is not a model or strategy, however well thought out. It is as they see him shining through us, see his love at work in our lives, and see that Christians have something they are lacking. If we genuinely understood how much God loves us, began to grasp the depths of the grace he has poured out upon us, our lives would be transformed in such a way that we couldn’t help speaking of him, and our actions would naturally back that up in a way that could not be ignored. In other words, people will be won to Christ not by what we do, but by who we are.
So my strategy for Missional Leadership? Well actually it’s God’s strategy, that he’s been speaking to us as a church in many ways over the past few weeks. Pray, pray, pray some more. Pray that we will be filled with the Holy Spirit, transformed into the likeness of Christ, and so become people who constantly attract others to the Jesus who lives in and through us.