October 12, 2016

Institutional Management to Missional Leadership

On today’s Whiteboard Wednesday, Mike Gafa shares a few thoughts about the importance of missional leadership for moving a consistory from managers to leaders.

To move from managing to leading, we must pull away from institutional management and embrace missional leadership. What do we mean by “institutional management?”

Institutional management encompasses the daily operations of a church – staff management, financial oversight, scheduling and logistics, etc. While daily operations are vitally important for every church, elders and deacons must not allow institutional management to be their foremost priority. Rather, they must focus first and foremost on missional leadership. We see a good illustration of missional leadership in Acts 6:1-4:

In those days when the number of disciples were increasing the Hellenistic jews among them complained against the Hebraic jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So, the twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

The scripture above highlights three different ways that the apostles displayed missional leadership, in which their primary focus was to help bring forth their mission.

First, they trusted others to solve the issue. When they “gathered all the disciples together” it meant that they gathered the whole church together! And they trusted the church laity to own the issue. Further, we see this trust as the apostles instruct the church to choose seven from among the church who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. They turned over a critical decision to the church body.

Secondly, the apostles empowered the church. They didn’t tell the church to go and discuss it, to form a task force or a committee, and let us know what you think and then we will come to a decision. Instead, they turned it over to them, and empowered the church to make the right decision.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, they kept their focus first and foremost on the their mission. Their mission was to advance the Gospel through the ministry of prayer and preaching. This was their calling and they didn’t abdicate it in favor of a quick fix. Instead, they trusted and empowered the church to do their part while the leaders kept their focus on the mission.

The result of their approach is given in Acts 6:7:

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

The word “rapidly” is taken from the Greek word “sphodra”, which is more accurately translated as “excessive” or even “exponential.” In other words, whereas in verse 1 we read that the number of disciples was increasing, after the naming of the seven deacons, verse 7 informs us that the church grew rapidly – sphodra.

Acts 6:1-7 represents a wonderful illustration of how missional leadership can help turn division into multiplication.

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