Leadership in Mission

Alastair Bolt

From my experience I want to suggest some principles of leadership and use mission as an example of how leadership works.


1 Leadership has got to be leadership.L~

Whether or not you favour corporate, nested, or individual leadership, you’re going to have to actually lead. Management, administration, facilitating, or institutional maintenance do not deliver mission.


2. To lead, you need to know precisely what the mission is.L~

Mission has become a warm but vague term, we are to have mission-shaped churches and now mission sized circuits .If I’m going to give my life for something, I want to know what it is. In my view mission is essentially the Kingdom of God pressing into the world. And what we call mission activities occur at the interface between the Kingdom and the World. It is precisely at this frontier that we need mission leadership now.


3. To lead, you need a diagnosis of the problems. What hole are you in?L~

I reckon that the root cause of our ineffective mission efforts is that our people do not themselves experience the mission of God through His Holy Spirit into their hearts. In fact they don’t experience much at all. We may know what God says about mission but we do not KNOW the God who comes. We have lost supernatural disclosure and with it our mission imperative. We are like Moses attempting the Exodus because we feel strongly about slavery, without encountering God at the burning bush.


If encounter is at the heart of the mission problem, worship is the principle corporate location of the problem. On the whole, traditional Methodist worship is not fit for purpose if your purpose is divine encounter. This is not a judgement or my preference about style but diagnosis based on empirical observation. We have tried it for a century and it has proved a spectacular failure when it comes to mission and growth…


4. To lead you need a route map, a basic plan to get you to where you need to go.L~

For mission we need an Acts 2 church of supernatural presence, miracles, word and life and growth. I work to a very simple plan. We redesign our worship to be an arena where people encounter Jesus in a tangible, accessible way. The rest is detail. Everything else we call mission and outreach then kicks off. People filled with the Holy Spirit are motivated, militant and infectious. Warmed hearts make for strong arms. Specific mission planning follows on.


5. To lead you need to believe it will work.L~

For me this model of mission is not a theory. I know it works from my experience. I know that if you make your worship a viable place to encounter Jesus, you will make more and more new Christians who will do more and more mission.


6. Leadership identifies concrete, achievable strategies.L~

Leaders give answers to the question ‘what then shall we do?’ Let me just give you an example of what concrete strategy looks like in leadership. Within the big plan of making your worship fit for mission you could firstly go back to your churches and rapidly phase out the traditional hymn sandwich, (because it doesn’t engender encounter.)


And secondly you could eliminate liberal theology from your pulpits (because it doesn’t really believe in encounter.)


It’s not rocket science, its evidence based, and do-able. You could all go home and make a start on this tomorrow.


7. Leadership needs courageL~

Leaders go in front and get shot at. (If what needs doing was easy and congenial, it would have been done years ago.) The principle opposition to effective mission will come from the people you lead, not from an unsaved society out there. There will be spirited opposition for lots of wonderful Methodist reasons. You will feel like Peter at the council of Jerusalem pleading for permission to do realistic mission.


8. To lead you need to go in front.L~

We need to be having tangible experience of Jesus, to be men and women more filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit, making real space for His intervention in our lives, making us spontaneous mission channels. If we’re going to win this thing, its going to have to start with the leaders because you can’t lead where you don’t go first.


Being in front will involve your own Spiritual Renewal.

The Revd Dr Adrian Bolt is a minister in the Nottingham East Circuit

metconnexion, Summer 2008, p.7