We do a lot of talking about mission, especially the mission of the church, “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” My perception is that you, as a leader, keep that mission in mind in most of what you do. My question is, do you feel connected to the mission? Do you feel what you are doing really makes much of a difference?
You might be doing all the right things. You love the people entrusted to your care. But you just don’t feel the spark any longer. What’s happening? What’s going on?
Bring Meaning to the Mission
What I am learning is a sense of fulfillment is needed to bring meaning to the mission. The question is, what brings that sense of fulfillment?
You might think of it this way: goals are good and necessary. You can define and track your goals and you can show how you have reached your goals. Yet, you can feel disconnected from a larger sense of purpose. Chasing goals day after day, week after week does not bring the engagement needed to bring a sense of fulfillment.
Interrelated Leadership Models
Over the years, I have identified and defined at least three models of leadership. Each model is needed to be an effective and courageous leader, but it is only when the models are intertwined and focused upon the mission that they are effective. Refining your leadership skills in each area will help you become the missional leader needed today.
Qualities of the Leader
One model of leadership is defined by the qualities of the leader. Are you a person of integrity, transparency, and empathy? Do you inspire loyalty, communicate clearly, and develop relationships? These qualities are necessary and vital to effective leadership. But you can learn all the right qualities and do all the right things and still feel disconnected and unfulfilled.
A second model of leadership is servant leadership. It is best seen in how you care for the needs and interests of those entrusted to your care. Have you developed an environment of support in which people can flourish? Are you providing what followers want from their leader: trust, compassion, stability, and hope? These qualities of servant leadership are necessary and vital to effective leadership. But you can care for the needs and interests of people and still feel less than fulfilled as a leader.
A third model of leadership is missional leadership. When grounded in a mission, people become both leaders and followers. They lead by living into their strengths and by offering their expertise. People follow by learning how to work in partnership with others. They share the values of the group and share a mutual sense of purpose. Missional leadership is an integration of servant leadership and the qualities of the leader. The three together provide what is needed for leading in the times in which we live.
Many of us do well in leading by the criteria of models one and two. We offer clear direction and guidance, stay connected with people, and care for their needs. Yet, in midst of all the good work, we do not feel fulfilled. We can articulate the mission with little connection to it.
More to Explore
You will find these blogs to be helpful in becoming a missional leader.
Mobilize for Ministry
So, what do we do? Below are seven questions that will assist you and the leaders of your church to brainstorm, reflect, and mobilize for ministry. They will require prayerful reflection, dialogue, and discernment. Some of the questions will require you to move beyond the walls of the church building and to talk with people in the community. Others will require you to explore the areas of overlap between the mission and the responses to the questions.
These questions are simple and challenging. I can promise that, when you take these questions seriously, you will find meaning and purpose in your leadership. For a more detailed explanation and direction click here.
The 7 Missional Questions
1. God’s Presence: Where have you witnessed God’s presence in your community? Neighborhood?
This is a good question to ask at the beginning of every meeting, with small groups, and at the end of each day. It is one of two foundational questions that contribute to congregational health. People who follow Jesus should be able to articulate God’s movement in their lives and identify God’s presence in their communities.
2. The Church’s Mission: What is the mission of the church?
This question is not about mission projects or service opportunities. The question is about purpose. What is the purpose of the church? Does everyone know the mission? Do they not only repeat it but embody it?
This is the partner question to naming God’s presence. Recognizing God’s presence and embodying the mission of the church are essential for healthy disciple-making movements.
3. The Mission Field: What is your mission field?
Your mission field is the geographic region in which your church is located. Once you have decided your geographic region, define who lives within the mission field. After you know who lives there, define their habits and interests. Listen to their stories. Pay attention to their symbols. What do you need to learn about the people in your mission field, the people entrusted to your care?
4. Assets: What are the assets of your community?
Make a list of the assets of the people who live in your mission field You are identifying skills, resources, and relationships. Other assets to explore include property, service, businesses, a community focus or physical attributes like a beach, a park, etc., and financial assets.
To identify assets, take a walk through our community and meet the people in your mission field. Ask people this question: “What do you love about our community?” Neighborhood? City?
5. Needs: What are the needs in your community? Neighborhood?
Make a list of the needs of people in your community. Remember that food, water, and shelter are the most basic needs. These are followed by safety, love, belonging, self-esteem, and respect. Recognizing and realizing your potential, learning, faith, and service round out your list.
To identify needs, when you take your walk through your community and meet the people in your mission field, ask this question, “What do you love about your community?” This question follows the question you asked in #4.
6. Relationships: What relationships exist with leaders in your community?
Who are you and other church leaders in relationship within the following areas of your community: education, business, government, social agencies, first responders, faith/religion, arts and entertainment, health (hospitals, doctors, nurses, clinics)? What relationships need to be nurtured, reconciled, and re-established?
A good place to start building relationships beyond the walls of the church building is with the principal of your local elementary school.
7. Collaboration: What is one way you can collaborate with another church?
Develop relationships with other church leaders. Listen to their stories and how they express their mission, and what disciple-making loos like in their faith communities. Even though theology and practices might differ, you are on the same team. How do you join together to cover the community with God’s love?
What Overlap Exists?
Now, here is where your missional leadership is most needed. What is the overlap between the mission and the responses to the other six questions?
Your overlap might be where you see God at work in the lives of children, or in community leaders of in service organizations. Begin to tell the stories of God being at work in your community and invite people to participate in what God is doing.
You can also go to the LeaderCast podcast for helpful information. Here are episodes that will help in becoming a missional leader. Purpose and Presence Set the foundation for missional leadership with these two questions. Needs and Assets Bridge the needs and assets of your community with these questions. Relationships and Partnerships Leverage the people and connections of your community for kingdom impact.
It is time to move from talking about the mission to becoming the missional leader needed to have influence in the world today. I can promise you and the people entrusted to your care that once you are focused on the mission of the church, you will find the meaning and purpose that has been missing in your life and in your church.
It is my hope that you can and will begin to build a file of resources that assists you in becoming the leader that makes a difference.
Remember, who is are is how you lead.