Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sucked Into The Vortex

I do not believe there is anything as challenging, emotionally charged or hyper-active as congregations. Actually, these are signs of life and vitality. The very heart of the Church is spiritual and that cannot be contained or controlled. Congregations are about lives and everything that comes with living; birth, growth, celebration, love, failure, commitment, expectation, change, pain, sin, sickness, death, transformation, resurrection, giving, serving and attempting to be with other people going through similar experiences. All wrapped in the context of a faith filled community, depending on God’s gracious direction, blessing, admonition, and presence. Leaders are chosen to guide and bear the responsibility for the well being of these communities. Bringing order and managing the day to day demands has the potential to overwhelm and wear out. Some churches have created a momentum of activity that can speed up and suck its leaders into a vortex of ever spinning cycles that grab and consume everyone working to just hold on. The other extreme is congregations who fail to thrive for fear of activity outside of worship. They have a way of diminishing, like a human who doesn’t get much exercise. Fortunately, there are congregations that have managed to find a sane level of activity and ministry.

No matter the size, there is significant potential for church leaders to be consumed in the vortex of managing their congregations. Budgets, facilities, decisions, day to day pastoral care, programming, worship detail and just being present for daily surprises that are second nature for churches is management. Missionary purpose is imbued in some of this management but it often gets lost in the translation. Where is the time to look outside the church walls? Where is the missionary effort to take Christ into the world that doesn’t know Him? The missionary leader has the difficult challenge of influencing people to take their stories, faith and actions into the world, modeling what it means to share Christ’s love and forgiving nature.

Ultimately, missionary leaders have the responsibility to guide congregations forward into the unknown, all for the sake of continually bringing people into relationship with God and each other in Christ Jesus. This takes faithful, bold, risk taking leadership. All of this stirs conflict, feelings of ownership and resistance in congregations making it even harder for missionary leaders. Did I mention it takes a tough hide and an ability to persist? Or as the gurus of the day say, 'self differentiate and be a non-anxious presence'. Unfortunately that takes molding in the furnace of experience and that can leave scars.

So this blog will be about you, the missionary leader. What I think it takes, real life stories, practices that help, and resources to inform and utilize for your development. The journey begins…

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Missionary Leader

After much encouragement and a little foot dragging on my part I am jumping off the cliff into the world of blogging. I am committed to writing my thoughts about a subject I feel passionately about and that is the Missionary Leader. The Church, which has been my life long companion and place of vocation has taught me alot about leadership. Great, good, bad, ugly....gifted, appointed, self taught, assumed, inappropriate....I have seen it all in action. I have also witnessed the fruits and fall out of leadership. I guess when someone finally reaches the milestone of six decades on earth they have the right to claim they have gained some wisdom. I will seek to humbly and faithfully share this wisdom about missionary leadership as I have come to experience it through others and my personal journey. Along the way I will strive to incorporate what it means to foster missionary congregations. All for the sake of the Gospel, the only real reason to be about this work in the first place. Won't you join me in this journey?
I will strive to post something new each Monday. So come along, let me know what you think, lets see what we can do to raise the bar for missionary leaders in the Church.