Essential Skills for Missional Leaders By Gary Rohrmayer
church is desperately in need for more missional leaders to rise up in
it ranks. Here are four essential skills that help a leader align their
churches with God's mission.
1. Empowering those around them.
Missional leaders are multiplying leaders. They understand that within
the Great Commission they have all they need to get the job done. They
have been empowered with spiritual authority, "All authority in heaven
and on earth has been given to me." (Matthew 28:18 NIV) They have been
entrusted with a specific task, "Therefore go and make disciples of all
nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew
28:19-20 NIV) They have the encouraging promise of His presence to
help them along the way, "And surely I am with you always, to the very
end of the age." (Matthew 28:20 NIV)
Missional leaders understand that the mission is bigger than them and
that they will need hundreds and thousands of other leaders to achieve
God's missional goals. They make it their business to always be on the
search for emerging leaders, with the eye of an eagle they look for
those who possess the raw leadership skills. My friend, Tom Nebel, likes
to say that he is not a recruiter but just a spotter always looking for
potential in those around him. They are leaders who never do anything
alone. They always have some one along observing because they understand
the power of the informal equipping process and that more is caught
than taught in leadership settings. They understand that everything the
church does revolves around one aim "make disciples". If a church is
good at making disciples it will be good at making leaders because in
the end, a good spiritual formation plan will lead to an accelerated
spiritual multiplication. Missional leaders are always evaluating and
tweaking the spiritual formation process or system to see if they are
hitting their mark.
Missional leaders know what it is to be entrusted by someone with a
task. They have, over time, cultivated the art of delegating
responsibility to trusted leaders. They take the time to communicate
expectations, responsibilities and parameters of the job. They provide
guidance and encouragement through coaching. They provide positive
reinforcement through celebrating the smallest victory in that leader's
ministry. When I think of an empowering leader my mind always runs to
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, who earned the nickname "Barnabas, son of
encouragement." (Acts 4:36 NIV) Barnabas was a 'leader-maker' who
sought out potential leaders, who generously created opportunities for
leaders to develop their area of giftedness and who walked alongside,
nurturing leaders to encouragement. Barnabas sought out Saul, who
became Paul, and together they sparked a revolution that still burns
today all over the world.
2. Building and maintaining healthy relationships.
The mission of God is a relational mission. His plan is to use people
to reach people. His plan is to use frail human beings to
supernaturally build his church and unlock the Kingdom of Heaven:
"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my
church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the
keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound
in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven".
(Matthew 16:18-19 NIV)
Missional leaders know that developing strong interpersonal skills is
critical to their effectiveness. They must care for those who need
care. They must listen attentively while others are speaking. When
they are corrected they receive it humbly. When they need to be
confronting negative behavior in others they speak the truth in love.
They know how to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who
mourn. The Bible is full of teachings on how Christians are to love those outside the church and those inside the family of God.
Missional leaders understand they are called to love (Mark 12:28-30) and
called to build loving communities. Jesus said, "A new command I give
you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one
another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you
love one another". (John 13:34-35 NIV) Francis Schaeffer in his book,
"Mark of the Christian" makes this sobering comment on this verse, "In
the midst of the world, in the midst of our present culture, Jesus
is giving a right to the world. Upon His authority He gives the world
the right to judge us whether you and I are born-again Christians on the
basis of our observable love towards all Christians". (pg 187)
Missional leaders rise to this challenge and do the tough work of building loving relationships throughout the church.
3. Creating ministry teams.
Teamwork is essential to achieving God's missional purposes. One man
said, "It is not biblical to think of ministering alone." Jesus modeled
ministering to large crowds (Matthew 7:28) along with ministering within
a small unit or a team where more intimacy and authenticity was
cultivated. (Luke 6:12-16) Paul went out on mission endeavors with a
ministry partner and a ministry apprentice. (Acts 13:1-5; 16:1) The
early church launched large (Acts 2:41) and at the same time grew small
as they met in homes sharing their lives together. (Acts 2:46) There
are no Lone Rangers in Christianity (by the way, didn't the Lone Ranger
have Tonto on his side?)
Missional leaders know that their church will only grow as large as its
capacity to provide ongoing care through a network of small groups and
ministry teams. They understand that their church's impact will only
extend to the point that they are continually developing shepherd
leaders to lead, care and facility these little platoons. They have
experienced the power of seeing mentoring relationships spring out of
the smaller settings of ministry. They have seen these small groups
adopted a family in need and minister to them with personal care. They
know that these groups are not just an add-on or just another program
in the church but the very health center of the church.
Missional leaders see the great opportunities that small groups promise
but they also see the great pitfalls that they can bring. This is why
they spend hours training, coaching and encouraging leaders. This is
why they start with great care and manage them with close supervision.
4. Designing & developing healthy church systems.
The Apostle Paul wrote, "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a
manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you
or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in
one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel".
(Philippians 1:27-28 NIV) The image of contending means striving
together or fighting side by side as in an athletic contest or team
sport. I personally like the term 'synergy' which is defined "the
interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined
effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects". (American
Heritage College Dictionary) Missional leaders know how to build
synergy throughout their church, aligning all the individual pieces to
work together for a greater outcome. This is accomplished through their
understanding of functional church systems or structures.
What are church systems? Church Systems are reproducible processes by
which the church actualizes its values and achieves its mission.
Missional leaders know how to design these systems, to create processes
that are manageable and measurable. Not only do they know how to
designed them but they also know how to development and tweak them all
the way with out losing momentum. Michael Gerber wrote, "Systems run
the business and people run the systems". Missional leaders understand
that healthy systems are only as good as the people who are running them
and that time, energy and resources need to be invested in these
leaders who are running these systems that are critical to fulfilling
The Army Leadership Manual says, "a true leader in not satisfied with
knowing only how to do what will get the organization through today; you
must also be concerned about what it will need tomorrow." (pg 13)
Missionally driven leaders get the job done and are always anticipating
the next step the church needs to make to achieve God's missional
purpose through the local church. Knowing the next steps for your church
is what makes the difference between a leader and a follower.
Followers are looking for direction, leaders are thinking about the next
decision, the next hurdle and the next level for the organization. My prayer
is that through this article that your passion for God's mission will
grab your heart and your desire to grow as a leader burns with great