There is a story about Air Chief Marshall Dowding commander of British Fighter Command during the critical stages of the Battle of Britain in World War 2. Reportedly, an officer rushed up to Dowding with what he thought was exciting news regarding the number of the enemy shot down on the previous day. “That’s good”, Dowding replied not quite so excited, “but what we need is more pilots, without more pilots we will lose”. I would paraphrase Dowding to say that in the context of our missional battle, “It’s more missionaries we need, without more missionaries we will lose”.
We are in a time when there is a general lack of good leadership in the west in general. In the church this is manifested by a systemic failure of leadership at all levels to recognise the ‘Kaleidoscope culture’ in which the Australian church is set, a constantly morphing mosaic of variagated tribes. A shimmering socio-spiritual flux propelled by rapid technological innovation and spiritual-ethnic diversity driven by large immigration flows. These are not ordinary times and in such a missiological context, unseen for a thousand years or more, if indeed they have ever been seen, the primary and urgent need is now for missionaries!
This is certainly not to deny that leaders of churches, and those who oversee ‘Unbounded Church’ missional community expressions must be doctrinally sound and able to teach the bible well. However, that is simply not enough in what is literally a ‘Crisis’. It ought to be self-evident that mission needs missionaries, however I am not sure that this, what ought to be, self-evident truth is always evident to many.
“It’s more missionaries we need,
without more missionaries we will lose”.
Given the now decades long and chronically disappointing levels of missional fruit being produced from churches’ current methods of mission, the probability is that to continue to produce a flow of graduates from the colleges that train church leaders, the majority of whom see themselves, and indeed in many cases their primary gifting is, as preachers and teachers, is not the need of the hour. The reality is that what is actually needed, and needed desperately, are missionaries, and the fact is that those gifted as teachers/preachers are not necessarily gifted as missionaries.
“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 reality is that our current Leadership model is strongly shaped by the Christendom paradigm, primarily suited to the maintenance of Christian congregations and the building up of the ‘saints’, not mission. However, the person with a missionary heart, the heart that should be a primary requirement for any one considered for training for, and appointment to, the leadership of a church specifically designed for what is effectively ‘Pagan mission’ for the re-evangelisation of the West, will display distinctive characteristics. The ‘heart’ required-
• Is ‘Entrepreneurial’ and is prepared to take risks.
• Is focused on building the ‘Kingdom’ not the ‘church’.
• Is able to not just think ‘outside of the box’ but get outside the box.
• Is ‘flexible and innovative’.
• Has an ‘Organic Emergence’, that is they will allow the Spirit to blow where He wills often in unexpected ways, rather than a ’rigidly planned’’ approach to mission.
• Can live on the ‘Edge of Chaos’.
• Has over the horizon radar-i.e. is able, through prayerful submission of its imagination to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the voice of the New Testament, to ‘imagine what is not’ for the glory of God.
• Has a Star Trek’ vision, i.e. a preparedness to go where “no man (or church) has gone before”, that is along a ‘road for which there is as yet no map’.
Such leadership will not be constrained by a Christendom box.
Here lies a significant problem, for a large numbers of existing church leaders do not fit the personality, gift and passion profiles required for the new missional paradigm. Rather they are chosen, trained and gifted for the traditional church model, which means that there is an urgent need to change the selection criteria such that those chosen for leadership are best fitted for the missiological Star Trek journey into the parallel universes of the lost.
It’s more Missionaries of the Star Trek Kind we need or we will lose!