Mission Field Leadership Development Program

We believe in the priesthood of all believers - that all people have a mission and a calling here on earth to pursue. Our goal is to help all members of the church to discover their calling, build structure around that mission, and direction to add value in their communities.

We want everyone to be able to answer the following questions:

  1. What is your role in the body of Christ? (Ephesians 4:1-16)
  2. What does your congregation do? (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)
  3. Who benefits and how? (Romans 13:8-14)
  4. How is God already at work in the communities you engage with? (John 5:17-20)
  5. How do you discern if you are being faithful to your calling? (Luke 16: 1-16)

In a very simple way, we can look at three types of leadership and the types of value they bring to congregations and missional communities.

Pioneer: Who needs help?

Pioneering leaders do well in environments of uncertainty where they can experiment with new ideas to address new opportunities for ministry and discipleship. These leaders are typically full of questions, critiques, and ideas because they are excited about the potential of new. These folks understand that risk and failure are a part of the nature of detailing with uncertainty, but are strategic enough to risk only what is tolerable to lose. Pioneers are the members of your team you want to send in first to assess opportunities and adjust quickly.

Settlers: How do we grow impact?

Settling leaders excel in environments where mission fields are understood but not well established. You can expect these leaders to want to maximize impact, grow engagement, and make mission fields more accessible to their congregations. While pioneers are happy to explore, settlers tend to like to expand - expand knowledge, teams, partners, participation, etc. They help pioneers stabilize plans and systems so the rest of the congregation knows how they can be helpful in the mission initiative. Settlers are community members who help bridge the gap between new opportunities and established practice.

Developers: How do we get everyone involved?

Developing leaders are your go-to people for maximum inclusion and scale. These leaders are good at dealing with larger impact missional initiatives that require a lot of people, planning, and coordination. Leaders in this phase can take the growth started by settling leaders and incorporate into standard practice for these communities and teams. Stability and predictability help make involvement clear and easy for participants at all levels. Developers are community leaders who help get everyone involved and help make sure the community is behind a common mission.

Communities and initiatives run more efficiently when the leader is aligned to the present stage of the initiative, the team is optimized for their mission, and the goal of the team aligns with the needs of the community. There may be times when a pioneering leader may need to help in setting initiatives, but ideally they won’t be there long. Getting new leadership into place of initiative A, and allowing the pioneer to work on initiative B will help each member of the body fulfill their calling, and your missional community run smoother. You can open some doors with your knee in a pinch, but it’s probably not your go-to method, yeah?

As you continue to think about the leadership roles of your missional community’s initiatives, here are some next steps items to consider as you disciple your emerging leaders:

Identify & Invest in Your Leaders

Make a conscious effort to seek out, invest in, and walk alongside your community leaders (or potential leaders). Personal discipleship may look unique to each type of leader, indeed each person, but mentorship and sharpening can take many forms. Inviting leaders to engage will only go so far if they feel their personality or calling doesn’t fit into the norms of your congregation or congregational practices. Letting them know their leadership is welcome and desired (and then showing it by letting them lead) will help you “show, don’t tell” your interest in their development.

Define Different Measures of Success

Comparing a golf score with a basketball score is doable, but not very useful. Similarly, using the same measure of success in established missional ventures and new ones is not a very useful practice. Establishing different measures, words, and cultural understandings around success for different phases of mission initiatives helps the entire community know when things are going well. For example, traditional developer metrics might be around attendance and fundraising while pioneering metrics might be around lessons learned or ventures attempted.

Build Steering Teams

To paraphrase my favorite TED talk, without followers a leader is just a lone nut, so equip your leaders with a team of advisors, guides, and first-followers (who make the lone nut into a leader). The leader is not the person who has all the right answers, does all the work, or has the best/biggest title. Your leader is the person who puts it all together; who designs the strategy around the abilities, mission, and calling of your team members. The two best operational qualities of your leader is to be generally respected and be able to get things accomplished - build a team around them to help them do those things.

Design Transition Strategies

It’s one thing to know that a transition needs to take place, it’s something else entirely to have a plan to get it done. Having processes, guidelines, or standards for transitions in leadership will help such changes happen smoothly and, dare I say, joyfully. Plus, no one will be surprised when leaders transition (not stepping down) to lead other initiatives in the same community and collective vision. New leadership takes its place at the appropriate time to the benefit of the entire missional community.

Celebrate Often

What is the difference between a true fan and a casual fan? One thing is the length of their celebration. A casual fan will quickly forget about past success. A true fan relives that success again and again and again. As your leaders lead missional ventures and equip your mission community to make Kingdom impacts, let them know that the community appreciates their work. Mention it to third parties. Name activities or processes after them (“We’re going to have to pull a Jim here!”). Invite them to share their lessons learned/ways to engage. Ask for their help in other areas. The world can be an unforgiving and demanding place, let your congregation be a place where your leadership is admired and loved.