The Barbarians are at the gates, the gates of western civilization. The ‘Christendom’-founded and shaped civilization we call ‘the West’, denuded by the leaching out of its gospel underpinnings; its foundation of the Rock replaced by Post modern relativism and so no match for the flood of alternative ‘truths’ whether liberal humanism, radical Islam or the burgeoning hordes of ‘no-religionists’.
The Barbarians are at our gates, at the same time our church structure crumbles, no answer is proffered but a counsel of despair i.e. encouragement to keep on doing what we’ve been doing but ‘more and better’. When what is needed in the descending spiritual darkness of a ‘new dark age’ is truly missional leadership, of a spiritual ‘Churchillian’ kind, as the barbarians take over. However it seems leaders of churches, mainline denominations anyway are mostly consumed with maintaining the ‘Christendom church model’ show, keeping ‘market share’, mere survival in the face of attendance decline. We seem to be paralysed into a Neronic fiddling with the model we have, tweaking it here and there, trying to do it ‘more and better’ . There is a systemic failure, a leadership failure to grasp the need for a radical paradigm shift, to a truly missional church (the Unbounded Church concept of this site), one specifically designed for ‘Mission Borneo’ i.e. Pagan mission. Indeed a
“Church as we haven’t known it for a society as we haven’t known it”
Leadership in the Australian church is strongly shaped by the Christendom paradigm which has evolved for, and is primarily designed for pastoral maintenance, the building up of the ‘saints’, not for mission. This is not the leadership required in the pagan advance, which is missional leadership.
Essential qualities required for leaders are that they-
• Will be ‘entrepreneurial’
• Will have a ‘missionary personality’
• Are able to think ‘outside of the box’
• Are highly ‘flexible and innovative’.
• Have ‘over the horizon radar’, i.e. able to see, indeed ‘imagine’, the church as it must become before it is!
These are not generally the characteristics of most contemporary church leaders, or of the products of contemporary ministry training colleges, yet they are essential to the task of pagan mission.
Leaders required for this present crisis are those who are willing to risk prayerfully submitting their imaginations to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the voice of the New Testament, and dare to ‘imagine what is not’ for the glory of God. Indeed, to be suitable leaders for ‘Mission Borneo’ requires a ‘Star Trek’ vision, i.e. a preparedness to go where “no man (or church) has gone before” i.e. truly be ‘missional’. Such leaders will not be constrained by a Christendom box. As Alan Roxburgh has said-
“Today’s global culture is experiencing rapid, tumultuous change that is affecting the very structure and significance of church leadership” and
“What the church urgently needs are men and women capable of leading others toward missional transformation for a future church which has not yet been imagined.”
The fact is that if leaders cannot imagine the ‘over the horizon’ vision, i.e. of a ‘Church as we have not known it’, they will most certainly not be capable of leading people towards it.
The Barbarians are at the gates, the gates of our ‘Christendom’ -founded and shaped civilization we call ‘the West’. The only hope to stem the tide of darkness is a revitalized army of God in the saving power of Jesus. Yet the troops are apathetic and the ‘generals, seem to be confused and lost clinging to faint hope in faded and failed Christendom strategies, and indeed seemingly willing to reinvent the ‘square wheel’.
This a time for bold, entrepreneurial, creative ‘star trek’ leadership, without which the fear is that the tide of the ‘new dark age’ will overcome all.