The following is an analytical book review of The Missional Leader.
Roxburgh is one of the foremost leading thinkers in everything missional, yet he is a pastor at heart with over thirty years of experience in church leadership, consulting, and seminary education. He is also leads The Missional Network, which is an organization that is committed to resourcing missional leaders. On the other hand, Romanuk is an experienced psychologist with years of organizational consulting experience. He brings expertise in assessing and developing the potential of people in leadership roles.
The thesis of this book is that every church needs to move from a consumeristic model to a missional model, since the very nature of the church is to be God’s missionary people. Roxburgh and Romanuk explain how leaders need to make this transition first personally before being able to lead his/her church through this transition.
In part one, the authors explore the context and challenge of missional leadership. They begin by outlining six critical issues for missional leadership, which then leads them to describing a three zone model for missional leadership. This three zone model outlines the different ways that leaders need to lead based on the stage of their organization. The authors then close this part by presenting their five stage missional change model, which “offers leaders a way to cultivate an environment in which missional imagination can thrive” (141). In part two, the authors look at the preparation, ongoing training, character, and cultivation that a missional leader needs to go through to be effective. They explore practical areas, such as ways to form missional environments and cultures, and the authors also present information on their leadership development pathway and model.
Our culture longs for that silver bullet.
Every organization wants a quick fix, without necessarily being willing to put in the long-term effort needed for change.
That is why our culture loves charismatic celebrity leaders who are confident and have the answer for positive change.
Unfortunately, this is the case for churches as well, to the point that most pastors, including myself, who transition into a new role are always expected to have the answers and bring the church to a greater level of depth, engagement, and size than their predecessors. I am never as arrogant to come in and bring about a change plan, without first investing a lot of time understanding the context and developing a wide net of relationships.
However, soon enough, after that one year grace period, one is always expected to come up with a magical plan that will solve the ministry’s problem. This does not always happen, nor does it work, since that sort of thinking puts plans ahead of people, and my plans ahead of God’s plans.The fact is, God has been working in that ministry before I ever thought of it, and he will continue to work in that ministry long after I leave.
Let’s stop being so self-centred and arrogant.
To combat this madness, the authors propose an alternative leadership method – “the key to innovating new life and mission in a congregation is not so much a strategy for growth as it is cultivation of people themselves. It is from among the people that the energy and vision for missional life emerge” (186). The fact is, it is impossible to clearly define what the future is going to be and the method needed to get there since “God’s future is not a plan or strategy that you introduce; it is among the people of God. God brings the future toward us. God’s future is already being cultivated in the church among the ordinariness of one another” (187). Thus, this means that the primary responsibility of a leader is to help their people grow in their awareness of the presence of God and develop a deeper trust in God.
In other words, a missional leader needs to foremost be a disciple who develops other disciples who then also develops other disciples, rather than be a chic and charismatic fluff ball of a leader who only influences one generation.
In the end, I give this book 4 stars out of 5.