Leaders increasingly desire people to live in the ways of God’s kingdom and to spread God’s glory into the earth. In other words, leaders long to increase the impact of the local church’s ministry and mission.
To expand the mission, leaders cultivate a missional imagination in and among their people. They grow this imagination through preaching, podcasts, blog posts, and conversations. They develop this imagination by designing council/consistory agendas to draw people into imagining and not merely getting some work done. They sit in Starbucks and listen to the hopes and dreams of congregational members.
Leaders bring the outside in. They are not shy about telling the truth about the pain and hurt of the world. They are not shy to speak about the significant issues of the day. In all of this, congregation members are encouraged to imagine the way things are supposed to be. Congregation members are encouraged to grow present ministries and start new ones that turn their imagination into reality.
Wise leaders know that structures and power dynamics can kill off missional imagination. To expand the mission means cutting away bureaucracy. Innovator Ted Vaughn writes,
…ruthlessly eliminate bureaucracy. Some churches love bureaucracy. We love committees. We love layers. We love consensus. We love making everything really complex. The problem with that, experimentation and creativity are often choked out by needless process. You’ve got to make sure that decision-making and lines of authority are clear…. Empowerment is the key word. If … can’t do anything without approval, no thanks. Great leaders, great innovators, they won’t stick around, but if you eliminate bureaucracy and give them clear lines of authority and decision-making, make the objective and the parameters really, really clear, they’ll stick around and they’ll do some amazing stuff.
We cut away bureaucracy, and we create flexible missional structures.
We cut away bureaucracy and create a culture of grace and permission. In this culture, we permit people to try new things, and we expect things to fail. Failure is not feared but welcomed as part of the process of expanding the mission.
- How are you expanding the mission?
- How do you help leaders and members cultivate a missional imagination?
- Are your structures set up for mission?