This topic is so broad that I consider it to include three stand-alone subjects, namely, building a mission minded church; faithful stewardship; and effective pastoral leadership. I have therefore decided to limit this paper to addressing the place of effective pastoral leadership in building a mission minded church.
It is becoming more apparent to hear both members and Pastors in the Nigerian Baptist Convention speak of some Churches and Pastors as being mission minded, while others are not so spoken of. One wonders what is bringing this kind of dichotomy when we are actually all supposed to be one Christian body with only one mission. When we talk about being mission minded, what exactly do we mean? From my interaction with different people within our Convention family, it would appear to me that the general notion of being mission-minded refers largely to either giving money to, participating in, sending people to, praying for, or being directly involved in some activity geared at preaching the gospel in some nearby or distant communities, among some people groups who are considered to be either unreached or unsaved. Churches and Pastors who pay attention to other aspects of Church life, politics, infrastructural development, education, business, entrepreneurship, leadership development, and social interventions in their communities are hardly seen as being mission-minded. While mission in the Church includes, of necessity, the presentation of the gospel, it could be achieved both in formal and informal ways. In fact, the informal ways of presenting the message of Christ seem to be more effective as they are less threatening.
In this 21st century, marketplace missionaries seem to be making more impact for God’s kingdom than the traditional approach of having to go house to house to preach to people, conducting gospel campaigns, constructing Church buildings in communities etc. The idea of market-place missions is simply being true to the Christian faith and message in any environment where a Christian finds himself. The illustration of a little salt sweetening a whole pot of soup is very apt in this matter. All Christians are called and sent to preach Christ everywhere in word and indeed.
Christopher J. H, Wright defines mission as “our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation”. He holds that our mission as a Church flows from and participates in the mission of God.
Michael W. Goheen attempts to describe “mission” as the role and identity of the Church in the context of the biblical story. He presents mission as what the 21st century Church should actually be. “Mission” is a reminder to the Church that it needs to be oriented to the world, and exist for other people. It is from this perspective that Goheen describes the Christian Church as being missional, that the Church is a body sent to the world and existing not for itself but to bring good news to the world.
There is also a general way of looking at mission in terms of a long term purpose as goal that is to be achieved through proximate objectives and planned actions. This could be applied to any group or enterprise, and it could also have subordinate missions, in the sense of specific tasks assigned to a person or group that are to be accomplished as steps towards the wider mission. In the secular world, mission statements are used to summarize the purpose for which organizations exist and what they hope to accomplish. From Biblical revelation, God is seen as unquestionably purposeful. He has a mission for the whole world and in particular for mankind, and this is what the Church is called to imbibe and to actively participate in. This mission of God is targeted at the redemption of the total man.
Mission minded Church:
It refers to a local Church which draws its life and purpose of existence around the Missio Dei, (the mission of God) in the world. It is concerned and focused on what God is doing and set to achieve in people of different nationalities around the world both in terms of spiritual, physical and social well-being. This emphasis is believed to begin from within the Church itself to the uttermost parts of the world (Acts 1:8). It includes the preaching of the message of Christ, but is not limited to it as God is also interested in other aspects of the lives of people and their experiences in relation to His world. It is intended that the local Church be moved through this emphasis to consider paying more attention to the Great Commission in terms of responsibility to the nations and the glory of God.
Refers to that which is adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.
Pastoral leadership is a form of Christian or spiritual leadership being provided by one person or a team of people gifted with, and called to the office of pastor. It addresses different opportunities and ways of serving in a Christian setting, especially in a church. The pastoral leader is expected to lead with courage and character, being a model to the flock of God under his/her watch. As pastor, this leader is constantly in tune with God and has a clear understanding of where God wants to take the flock to and how. He/she utilizes vision, seeks opportunities, identifies needs, and motivates the flock to address them through their God-given resources, which they gladly pull together. The pastoral leader focuses purely on taking the flock from where they are to where he envisions God wants them to be through mobilizing collaborative efforts. John Piper, speaking generally about Christian/spiritual leadership, asserts that it is “knowing where God wants His people to be and taking the initiative to use God’s methods to get them there relying on God’s power.” This means that the quality of leadership that a pastor provides is heavily dependent on his/her relationship with God. The pastor leads with the understanding that God is the foundation, provision, and purpose of his/her life, and therefore refers to Him in every matter before taking any steps. A leadership like this will surely be adequate to accomplish God’s purpose for His church, and produce the intended and expected result in every area of its ministry including the mission and missionary enterprise of the church. It therefore fits properly in what effective pastoral leadership is.
Marks of Effective Pastoral Leadership
The following are some of the many things to look out for in any pastoral leadership if it is to be considered effective:
This refers to knowing where the leader wants to go. He/she must have and demonstrate a clear vision of who he is, what God has called him to do and the determination to lead others to accomplish his vision and goals.
The leader must be able to effectively communicate where the group should go, the direction that the group should take and do it with passion and enthusiasm that both motivates the group to take action and elevate the vision to the highest priority.
As a leader, there must be the courage to face opposition and criticism when you are convinced that you are headed in the right direction. I believe the greatest reason why more pastors are not true leaders is because they do not have the courage to pay the price. We are not ignorant of the fact that the devil would do anything to try to discourage a leader from pursuing God’s good purposes. This can manifest in diverse ways, and so the leader must be aware, expect, and prepare to face it with courage and by the help of the Holy Spirit.
This refers to having an unwavering determination to see the vision and the goal through to the end. Where it requires for the leader to personally visit, or lead a team to, the leader does not hesitate. He/she is personally sold out to the vision, and takes ownership of it.
The leader must be and show a high sense of assurance at all times that he/she is doing what God is leading him/her to do and then leave the results to God and not worry about the consequences.
The leader must lead by example. He must never ever ask anyone, whether it is a staff member or some other persons to do something the leader himself is not willing to do whether small or big, simple or complex. This implies leading by example. (adapted from Dr. Jones Merrit, Snr Pastor of Cross Pointe Church, Duluth, GA, USA)
Building a Mission minded Church: The place of Effective Pastoral leadership.
To build a mission minded church, the importance of effective pastoral leadership cannot be over emphasized. John Maxwell said that “everything rises and falls on leadership”, therefore success in trying to build a mission minded church would squarely depend on the quality of leadership put in place. An effective pastoral leader is needed to ensure the following to truly move the people into the kind of mission orientation they need to have in order to be fully involved with God in His mission to the world.
First, establishing a strong theological foundation is important as a base upon which to build a biblical mission mind set. This foundation begins with the Pastor as leader of the Church. He / She is the one to establish this foundation in the Church as he preaches and teaches the people to help focus them in the direction God wants them to go with regards to having a missional world view. Part of this foundation is the understanding that man is dead in sin, that God’s wrath is upon guilty sinners, that man cannot save himself, that Christ is the only Saviour, that the gospel must be embraced for individuals to be saved, and that God is a missionary Himself. Those profound truths must form the foundation upon which the Church is doctrinally and theologically based. The Great Commission carries the mandate for missions as given to the Church.
Second, to build a mission minded Church there must be a proper motivation for missions. This implies that the strong theological foundation should go another step higher into developing a theological motivation for missions. This theological motivation for missions has two sides, namely, the pleasure and glory of God; and love for people and a concern for their well-being. These would drive any serious Christian to get involved in God’s mission. Jesus always aimed at pleasing God in all he did in his earthly ministry. He sought to complete the task He had been given by the Father even at the expense of his life. Also, he would look at the people and feel compassion for them and would do something to change their situation.
Third, to build a mission minded Church an effective pastoral leader must personally imbibe some general practical commitments to mission involvement. This could include developing an intentional outward focus and strategy for accomplishing missions to people within and far from the community, such as training program for mission volunteers, integrating mission education into the general program of the Church, praying for God to prompt the hearts of the people towards signing on for mission activities, setting aside funds for supporting missions and missionaries, and getting members of the Church interested and involved in personal evangelism locally where they are. As these things get inculcated into the life of the Church, the level of sacrificial giving for missions also increases.
Fourth, there is power in pulpit ministry when it is effectively used. The pastor needs to constantly cast a vision for mission from the pulpit and do it with conviction and passion in order to elicit the buy in of the people. He is to preach and teach about God’s mission to the world at every opportunity. This will help build in the people a world-wide outlook to ministry and a global orientation to everything.
Fifth, there is need for constantly informing the Church of the mission activities and opportunities within the denomination, and how to get involved with others in taking advantage of such opportunities to further advance the mission of God to the world. As these activities get done, the missionaries need to have regular opportunities to share with the rest of the Church, what God is doing through their mission efforts as a way of challenging and motivating others.
Sixth, the pastor must lead the church to begin to develop her members as missionaries through mentoring and modeling them in the area of missions. This would help to discover those who may have a specific call to missions and those who may just want to be missionaries or become permanent supporters of missions and missionaries in some particular ways. The leadership of the Church may also need to develop networking relationships with existing mission agencies and organizations around the world for the purpose of partnership. A practical way to do this is to set apart certain periods of the year when the pastor can lead other leaders and volunteer members on short term mission trips to some of the fields where they can physically partner with career missionaries in ministering to people in different situations for Christ’s sake, and have a feel of the people’s real life experiences. This creates a deeper burden for prayer and engenders sincere compassion among the church members. When people are thus involved it becomes very easy to mobilize them toward any mission endeavour. They would be ready to give their all for this noble cause.
Lastly, in addition to all the above, the pastor as the number one missionary of the church is to lead the church to intentionally include in its annual budget a good allocation to fund mission activities within and outside the church. It is believed that where a man’s treasure is, that is where his heart is. So a look at the annual budget statement of the church would reveal its priorities. Members of the church are also to be trained and encouraged to set aside a percentage of their personal income for mission. This would make everybody in the church to begin to own the mission vision since it has become a part of their planned personal expenses.
A leader’s role in determining the success or otherwise of any enterprise is too fundamental to be ignored. Right from the vision to the execution, the leader is key. His conviction, attitude, passion, zeal, sacrifice, and drive are highly contagious and do affect the overall outcome of the enterprise positively or negatively. This applies in both secular and spiritual leadership, and space. In the case of the church’s mission, which is God’s mission to the world, the pastor as spiritual leader is so central to the achievement of God’s purpose because of the call of God upon his/her life as God’s agent and servant. When the pastor enjoys a good and consistent relationship with God, and is absolutely dependent of Him, he soon wears God’s mission as a personal garment and embodies it. This makes it very easy to get others to share in it and to lead them effectively into accomplishing the mission around the world, and bringing glory to God.
May God continue to build our pastors as his mission agents and effective leaders of his church. Amen.
JESUS SHALL REIGN FROM SHORE TO SHORE.
By Rev. Dr. Kunat, Amos A.
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