Leadership is a huge issue in the American Church these days. Book after book is being produced on this subject. It has become another "fad" we spend a lot of time talking about. I find most of it both boring and unhelpful.

Missiologist Ralph Winter has written: “It is astonishing that most Protestant missionaries … have been blind to the
significance of the very structure within which they have worked. In this
blindness, they have merely planted churches and have not effectively concerned
themselves to make sure that the kind of mission structure within which they
operate also be set up on the field.”

The answer to this problem is true partnership
in ministry, the kind of partnership that
is so often lacking in our modern way of leading people and missions. We place the highest priority
on entrepreneurial skills and strong vision. In the process we have often missed the mark and thus do not reproduce ourselves missionally.

 A college classmate
of mine wrote me today. When I visited the Web site of his mission I found these four
marks of his ministry, a ministry deeply and profoundly rooted in partnerships.
His ministry site says that partnerships have these four positive qualities about them:

    1. They lead to less dependence.
    2. They allow for more effective contextualization.
    3. They have an exponential potential for multiplying.
    4. They keep our emphasis on relational interdependence, transcending organizational ties.

I think this is right. I wish more American leaders and
church planters understood this better. The vision we have pursued in North America is blindly
rooted in cultural forms that are marked by both control and power. They do not
generally produce true partnerships and the work of Christ suffers as a direct

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  1. Steve Hayes December 4, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “partnership” — is it the same as what others have called an “every-member ministry”?

  2. Ben December 5, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    John, I agree wholeheartedly that much of what is labelled “missional” these days is simply a new word for the old paradigm. Many see it as the new way to get more people to come to our services… like you said, boring and unhelpful.
    I am excited, however, about the many truly missional churches out there. I have grown in my respect for those who are simply “getting on with it” whether anyone notices or not.
    Thanks for the comment, and I think I remember you from the conference – I plan to come next year, so perhaps I can introduce myself. God’s peace!

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