By Roxburgh and Romanuk
Finally a book that not only describes the “missional church,” but also gives some hints as to how to develop such a culture. I’ve always been a fan of Alan Roxburgh, but this book is one of his best and most timely books.
He describes the missional church without throwing the baby (institutional church) out with the bath water as many of today’s pundits seem to do. I like their definition –“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 (p. viii).”
I also like the way they describe the missional leader, although it is impossible to find one sentence that totally describes this leadership. But I can boil it all down to this – the missional leader isn’t one that causes something to happen, or fixes a problem or provides a solution, or saves the institution. The missional leader is one who mentors and coaches individuals within a community to live out the Spirit in their ordinary lives as missionaries for God’s plan. In order to accomplish this missional leaders focus more on spiritual habits and behavior changes than they do programs or strategies. Two sentences best describe this overall difference in leadership – “It is leadership that cultivates the practice of indwelling Scripture and discovering places for experiment and risk as God’s people discover the Spirit of God’s life-giving future in Jesus is among them (p.27).” And – …leadership is fundamentally about forming character and living a life shaped by virtue (p.118).
For most established pastors today the big difference is the shift from focusing on programs and institutional growth to focusing on coaching and mentoring spiritual habits within the community. Instead of trying to get people involved “in church,” the focus is on helping people live out the Christ-like life in community and in their ordinary lives. The primary way to do this is by encouraging people to develop regular habits around the ancient practices and Daily Offices, which probably leaves room for a sequel.
One sentence sums up the dramatic change in direction from the modern form of leadership to the missional leader – “to become a disciple is not a matter of a new or changed self-understanding, but rather to become part of a different community with a different set of practices (p. 123).”
The following compares the dramatic change in leadership focus:
Programs Mentoring and Coaching
Formation Role Modeling
Individual salvation Community Life
Activity/Involvement Spiritual Habits
While this is a great book that should be read by every Christian leader it is not the first book to speak to these issues. Easum, Bandy and Associates have several books on the subject that predate The Missional leader.
One of our earliest books is Growing Spiritual Redwoods (Easum and Bandy) where we write about the organic church and the role of the Spiritual Midwife. Our metaphor of Spiritual Midwife describes in how the missional leader functions as he or she attempts to assist others in the birth of their God-given gifts. Success for spiritual midwives is not so much in what they do as how others live out their lives because of their leadership.
Another of our books is Talisman: Global Positioning for the Soul (Bandy). This is a book for those who are seeking a profound Christian faith “outside the box” of traditional church. It introduces those who are seriously experimenting with faith to the six experiences of Christ that touch the deepest anxieties of living. Tom provides practical coaching for busy people to find spiritual companionships and build spiritual disciplines.
Bill Tenny-Brittian has two books
Finally, A Second Resurrection (Easum) describes the spiritual malaise of today’s institutional church and focuses on how to renew the spiritual life of the congregation. One of the criticisms of the book is that it doesn’t offer any practical suggests as to how to “fix” the problem.