If a missional community leader is not abiding in Jesus, no amount of preparation or equipping can sustain them in leadership.
What is the difference between a missional community (MC) that makes it and a missional community (MC) that does not?
At the end of the day, I believe the answer to this question is poor leadership.
From our experience throughout the past five years, if a MC leader is healthy, the missional community will be healthy.
This seems simple enough, but it should raise two additional questions.
Question 1: What makes for a healthy MC leader?
Question 2: How do we actually raise up and sustain healthy MC leaders?
We define a healthy missional community leader as someone who is FATR (props to Jeff Vanderstelt for this language).
When it comes to MC leaders, we are looking first for people who are:
- Faithful: Committed to our covenant—Gather, Go, Grow, Give.
- Available: Not overly busy. They have margin in their lives to make disciples.
- Teachable: Humble and hungry. They are learners.
- Responsive: Open to rebuke and quick to respond to given responsibilities.
If a person is FATR, we continue to do the best we can to develop them within our missional community leadership pipeline. The fives phases of this pipeline are as follows:
MISSIONAL COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP PIPELINE
PHASE 1: FELLOWSHIP BASICS
- Understand church story, vision, strategy, and doctrine
• Clearly take initiative for the benefit of others (serves church faithfully)
• Growing in discipleship to Jesus (gospel fluency, spiritual disciplines, etc.)
PHASE 2: PERSONAL CALLING / ROLE CLARITY
- Desire to lead a MC flows out of a love for Jesus, His mission, and the church
• Has a clear understanding of what it means to be a MC leader (roles, etc.)
• Understand their own gifting, personality, and limitations (APEST, Enneagram)
PHASE 3: OFFICIAL APPRENTICESHIP
- Potential for new MC leadership is made known to current MC
• Apprentice takes on more and more leadership responsibilities within MC
• Current MC leader helps apprentice discover mission focus.
• Current MC leader begins talking with MC about multiplication (when, where, why, how, etc.)
PHASE 4: COMPILE LAUNCH TEAM AND SET LAUNCH DATE
- Apprentice begins recruiting members for their new MC
• Apprentice identifies at least two other couples who are able to share in the leadership responsibilities within their new MC
• Current MC leader and apprentice agree on new launch date
PHASE 5: MC COMMISSIONING & COACHING
- Elders set date for new MC commissioning at Sunday gathering
• New MC leader shares his or her vision with the church
• Elders pray over MC leader(s) and their new MC
• New MC leader(s) begins to receive coaching and care from elders
A WORD OF CAUTION
A leadership pipeline is incredibly helpful, but it does not guarantee success.
At the end of the day, you cannot manufacture healthy leaders in your own power. If a missional community leader is not abiding in Jesus, no amount of preparation or equipping can sustain him or her in leadership. Leading a MC is hard work. At times it can be exhausting and fruitless.
If leaders’ joy is not found in Christ, the leaders will not stand the test of time. More than leaders need a trellis (our leadership pipeline), the leaders need the Vine (Jesus Christ). If they refuse to abide in Jesus, their passion for making disciples will dry up and their MC as a whole will begin to fold up.
With this in mind, I encourage every pastor and church to place a major emphasis on MC leader soul care. Adam shared a little bit of how we do that here and in a recent podcast, but we also do things like buy lunch for every MC leader twice a month. I meet with the leaders to focus on their hands, but another pastor meets with them to focus solely on their relationship to God, others, and themselves. On top of this, we provide a training for our MC leaders every month where help leaders grow in their emotional, spiritual, and relational health. Our elders pray regularly for each MC leader, and we spend a big chunk of our time pastoring these men and women as they seek to disciple those within their own MCs.
Dr. John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
If this is true, and we believe it is, we must give a lot of energy and attention to developing, coaching, and caring for our MC leaders.
If we can reproduce healthy missional community leaders who last, we can reproduce healthy missional communities that will stand the test of time.
As a result, every man, woman, and child will have a chance to encounter Jesus through word or deed as healthy disciples are reproducing healthy disciples.