Roxburgh, Alan J. Romanuk, Fred. The Missional Leader. Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World. Jossey-Bass, 2006
There are two ‘concepts’ that impressed me in this resource, the term “missional”, as it relates to a leader and a congregation, and the term “discontinuous change” and how it impacts church life. A strong case is made for the need for churches to make a paradigm shift from being inward focused to being outward (missional) focused. In fact this is a practical tool for leadership which has that commitment, i.e. creating an environment for missional transformation.
In his forward, Eddie Gibbs suggests that this book addresses the challenge of making the transition “from a consumer model of church to one that is essentially missional in nature”. A missional church is “a community of God’s people who live into the imagination that they are, by their very nature, God’s missionary people living as a demonstration of what God plans to do in and for all creation in Jesus Christ”. Introduction.
Six critical issues for missional leadership are identified and discussed. One such issue is “discontinuous change” (7) which is disruptive, unanticipated and always challenges assumptions. It transforms cultures. A congregation should not be viewed like a business or corporate organization. Its uniqueness is suggested by a term like ‘missional’.
The basis for the formation of a missional (church) leader is hope reflected in “a biblical and theological imagination”. (16) The Incarnation illustrates how miraculous God’s interventions in the affairs of man can be. “In God’s economy the Spirit is among the people of God.” (20) It is important to know what is happening in the lives of the congregation and community to become missional. “Missional leadership must be about cultivating the capacity and gifts of the people who are already part of the church.” (30)
A clear understanding of a congregation’s organizational culture is basic to bringing about missional imagination. The “three zone model of missional leadership” (40) is presented to help assess a congregational culture. Three types of leadership characterize these three zones, “emergent, performative and reactive leadership”. (41)
“Missional Change Model (MCM) requires some understanding of systems- any group of two or more interconnected and interdependent parts that intersect and function as a whole.” (61) A congregation is an example of a system. A change of a system involves a change of a culture. Systems are impacted by discontinuos change at different levels. Such changes have resulted in “people- losing their orientation”. (66)
The “Missional Change Model” (79) is presented as a ‘blueprint’ for a missional church. The pathway of change is illustrated by the pattern of a sailboat’s progress. This kind of change is difficult. According to anthropologist Everett Rogers there are five steps involved in this change process, knowledge, persuasion, decision, experimentation and implementation, confirmation and reinforcement. In MCM the steps are “awareness, understanding, evaluation, trial and commitment” (83) It is not a quick fix. It is a tool that can help leaders in missional transformation in discontinuous change
There are missional readiness factors with theological roots that leaders need to understand. The Incarnation and its impact on the early church culture stands in significant contrast with “the modern reductionism of Christian confession”. (121)
Being a missional leader has to do with “calling forth God’s future from among the people rather than coming at them with preplanned programs and strategies”. (126) it requires personal maturity, authenticity, and self-awareness. Effective missional leaders will have to do conflict management which is always a part of change. Missional transformational does not happen without trust.
“Some specific skills focused on the formation of missional people” (146) are delineated and discussed. Common leadership thinking must be replaced with developing missional imagination. The process takes time and cannot be rushed. Cultivation results in growth. “Cultivating growth requires formation through habits and practices.” (153) e.g. daily offices (monastic), hospitality, and learning. Change is not complete until there is transition.
We are introduced to Southside church in Vancouver, a missional, multi-congregational church. The church has focused on going out to the community rather than expecting the community to come to it. Missional ministry came out of “understanding context and learning to ask new questions”. (179)
Two very important tools are presented that will be crucial in implementing the information being taught in this resource: “The Pastor/Leader Survey (which is available online) and the Pastor/Leader Tea(183)