Church Leadership In A Changing Mission Context
COMING to terms with being a "missional church" requires some shift in thinking. No longer is mission the exclusive activity of sent missionaries to another culture and no longer is it confined to works of evangelism among pre-believers. To be missional means impacting the sphere of influence we are in with good works that bless society, demonstrating Christ to every individual.
What does this mean for the church and its leaders, who traditionally encourage entry into full-time ministry or missions as a way of "serving God" while relegating other type of work to the "secular" bin?
This was explored this through regional seminars conducted by Dr Paul and Carol Alexander of Mattersey Hall, a Christian college for ministry in London. Seminars were held from 10 to 12 August 2011 in Kuching and Johor Baru.
The missional church, said Paul, was not so much a concept as it is being - we are redeemed by the Lord to be an impact and a blessing to everyone in every sphere of life. That many churches struggle to be missional in this manner is due in part to our Christian tradition of dichotomising reality, Paul said. Christians tend to separate what should not be separated - the church from public life, ministry from the marketplace.
As leadership and culture influenced a church's missional outlook, the seminar also addressed these issues. Carol's analysis of leadership styles revealed that many of older church leaders are from the "builders" generation with a manner that is more "militant". Whereas, the present batch of leaders are mostly from the "boomer" generation. Their leadership style is characterised more by an "entrepreneurial" spirit with emphasis on "team-work".
While not speaking against any particular style of leadership, Carol said the crux of missional leadership is one that embraces authentic relationship-building, and empowers and nurtures people to release them into the wider community as "movers and shakers".
Church leaders and participants were urged to continue the dialogue on what it means to be missional in one's own particular context. Are people being adequately empowered to see their work in the marketplace as missions? Is the church affirming Christians who work in spheres typically seen as taboo for some evangelicals, such as politics, social activitism or even entertainment? Being missional demands that we continue discussing, reflecting and attempting to discern what God is doing in our midst. Then we ought to participate with the Holy Spirit in bringing about good and transformation.
It is the hope and desire of NECF to see churches engaging in conversation to discern what God is doing for our beloved nation. This is a task not just for leaders but for every believer to discern and together be a part of God's great purpose for Malaysia.