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Missional Leader and Missional Church 

Dr Alex Tang

The word ‘missional’ is a buzz word nowadays. Brian McLaren used the word in his book, A Generous Orthodoxy and since then it has been applied to persons, lifestyle, worldview, community, church and now leaders.

Merriam-Webster online does not have the word in its database.

Wikipedia defines missional as
As commonly used today, the word describes the way in which Christians do all their activities, rather than identifying any one particular activity. To be missional is to align one's life with the redemptive mission of Jesus in the world.
The concept is rooted in the alignment of every believer and every church with Jesus’ mission in the world, just as Jesus knew His mission and aligned Himself with that mission.
A missional church aligns all of the program, function and activities of the church around the redemptive mission of God in the world.
Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk published a book last year on The Missional Leader: Equipping your Church to reach a Changing World (John Wiley & Sons, 2006). The authors’ thesis is that we need ‘missional’ leaders to create ‘missional’ churches. Adam Miller’s book review Step into Chaos notes:
Essentially, in this model, the leader is a facilitator skilled at bringing out the deeper issues among the community. Rather than providing solutions, he asks good questions and embraces rather than resolves tension. The missional leader seeks to cultivate the congregation’s imaginative power rather than attempting to shape it into a pre-determined form
The missional leader seem to be similar to my understanding of a biblical servant leader and the missional church sounds like the New Testament church. What impresses me about this book is the emphasis on community rather than programs or professional staff. It is all about members of the church willing to undergo a paradigm shift and the missional leader being the catalyst. However I think the model of change and its timeframe as suggested by the authors is too optimistic.
The need for the church to recognize that the church is ‘mission’ itself rather than ‘mission orientated’ had been adequately discussed by Bishop Hwa Yung in his book, Mangoes or Bananas?, long before the word ‘missional’ appeared. (His comments on theology and culture is worth reading).


 Tim Conder, guest columnist for LeadershipJournal.net asked in his article, Missional Buzz whether there is such a thing as a ‘missional church’. To answer his own questions, he suggested some characteristics of a ‘missional church’:

 (1) Missional communities try to align themselves holistically with God’s theme of redemption.

(2) Programming and finances are directed outward.

(3) Missional communities are discontent with spiritual formation as primarily cognitive assent.

(4) Embracing the ethnic and social diversities of local communities is becoming a moral expectation.

(5) Missional communities are not only ardent listeners for the earmarks of God’s redemptive work in our world, these communities are passionate activists when they find the pathways and trajectories of God’s redemptive presence.

 If this is what a missional church is, then I am all for it. After all, this also described the Acts 2 church.

Soli deo gloria  


|posted 17 January 2007|


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