Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Missional Leader and Missional Church

The word ‘missional’ is a buzz word nowadays. Brian McLaren used the word in his book, A Generous Orthodoxy and since then it has been applied to persons, lifestyle, worldview, community, church and now leaders.

Merriam-Webster online does not have the word in its database.

Wikipedia defines missional as

As commonly used today, the word describes the way in which Christians do all their activities, rather than identifying any one particular activity. To be missional is to align one's life with the redemptive mission of Jesus in the world.
The concept is rooted in the alignment of every believer and every church with Jesus’ mission in the world, just as Jesus knew His mission and aligned Himself with that mission.

A missional church aligns all of the program, function and activities of the church around the redemptive mission of God in the world.

Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk published a book last year on The Missional Leader: Equipping your Church to reach a Changing World (John Wiley & Sons, 2006). The authors’ thesis is that we need ‘missional’ leaders to create ‘missional’ churches. Adam Miller’s book review Step into Chaos notes:

Essentially, in this model, the leader is a facilitator skilled at bringing out the deeper issues among the community. Rather than providing solutions, he asks good questions and embraces rather than resolves tension. The missional leader seeks to cultivate the congregation’s imaginative power rather than attempting to shape it into a pre-determined form

The missional leader seem to be similar to my understanding of a biblical servant leader and the missional church sounds like the New Testament church.

What impresses me about this book is the emphasis on community rather than programs or professional staff. It is all about members of the church willing to undergo a paradigm shift and the missional leader being the catalyst. However I think the model of change and its timeframe as suggested by the authors is too optimistic.

The need for the church to recognize that the church is ‘mission’ itself rather than ‘mission orientated’ had been adequately discussed by Bishop Hwa Yung in his book, Mangoes or Bananas?, long before the word ‘missional’ appeared. (His comments on theology and culture is worth reading).

Tim Conder, guest columnist for asked in his article, Missional Buzz whether there is such a thing as a ‘missional church’. To answer his own questions, he suggested some characteristics of a ‘missional church’:

(1) Missional communities try to align themselves holistically with God’s theme of redemption.
(2) Programming and finances are directed outward.
(3) Missional communities are discontent with spiritual formation as primarily cognitive assent.
(4) Embracing the ethnic and social diversities of local communities is becoming a moral expectation.
(5) Missional communities are not only ardent listeners for the earmarks of God’s redemptive work in our world, these communities are passionate activists when they find the pathways and trajectories of God’s redemptive presence.

If this is what a missional church is, then I am all for it. After all, this also described the Acts 2 church. The Acts 2 church was in a similar situation as us. They are caught between moving out of a JudeoRabbinic religious tradition and a GrecoRoman multicultural and pluralistic society. So what else is new?

Soli deo gloria

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Blogger Sivin Kit said...

we seem to be reading similar books lately :-) wonder why?

I found it interesting how you connected the whole "missional" discussion with Bishop Hwa Yung's insights in his book.

I recall during my classes with him on Asian Theology and discussions on theology how I resonated with the agenda he was advocating as far as mission theology was concerned. The burning question for me then as well as now is .. what does all this look like in REAL life, everyday experiences of the church and common Christians?

Thus, it was refreshing to see people like Tim Conder and Alan Roxburgh working it out on a more practical level. In many ways we are converging in our converns and common questions albeit in different local contexts within a globalized world.

Did you know Tim Conder (who's a lesser known pastor) had been and was part of the emergent/emerging church conversation too? :-)

6:56 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

are we reading similar books? cool

No, I did not know that about Tim Conder.

I am looking for something- a church model that works. As you said- "what does all this look like in REAL life, everyday experiences of the church and common Christians". That is what I am searching for.

Oops in posting
missional buzz

Step into Chaos

11:41 PM  
Blogger Sivin Kit said...

Alex, that's where I started off too .. "looking for something- a church model that works." and then that search landed me digging deeper into theology and spirituality as important components in my quest.

I think when we're talking about "church models" we are not thinking about a one size fits all "model" (cf. cell church model, G12 model, Purpose-driven model, youth church model, etc) but rather "a way of re-envisioning" how we can embody the Gospel and other good stuff in our contexts (cf. which makes debates on those popular models less relevant for me even though awareness of them are helpful).

This shift itself has done me wonders. :-) it's freed me from the "Matrix of church-ianity & non-church-ianity". And opened my mind to appreciate models in Church history from the early monastics to the lesser known "evangelicals" - the early German pietists. I found myself listening to the house church movement and also alternative worship scene. And of course, what is known now as the "emerging church" movement (which until now I'm still unhappy about framing it in this way - but that's another story)

In short - I found myself re-framing all my questions as an ongoing effort in this quest.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

thank you for sharing your journey and your quest.

I really like your approach:
"I found myself re-framing all my questions as an ongoing effort in this quest."

Questions are important. Good questions are even more important because bad questions carry with them baggages that prevent you from asking good questions.

Good questions should be following by contemplative reflection. It is from this proces that we can understand what is happening. Though we 'see through a glass darkly', I believe that we have the Holy Spirit who will leads us into the Truth.

11:55 AM  

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