Leading Missional Communities as teams
However a Missional Community begins, there will inevitably be a core team of people around the leader(s) in order for that community to maintain long term sustainability. Here are a few principles in my mind when it comes to helping that team function well.
A team works best when we recognise our differences within the team and play to our strengths. There are different ways to think about this. One example is to think about each team member’s ministry strength. Are they an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a pastor or a teacher (Ephesians 4)? Do you know what yours is, and those of the rest of the team? Then work to your strengths. See http://fivefoldsurvey.com for more.
For example Ceri, my wife, and I lead a missional family. I am an apostle and Ceri is a prophet. Consequently when we run our missional community leaders’ huddle, which we lead together, Ceri, as a prophet, will lead the evenings on our discipleship and I, as an apostle, will lead the evenings focussing on our leadership.
It also helps us understand pressure points too, and people’s different responses in certain seasons. For example, I have noticed that it is often the pastors that struggle the most during seasons of change. It’s not that they don’t believe in or accept the change, it’s just that their sensitivity to the unease and discomfort of others (which is always a part of change) makes it much harder for them. The team understanding why they are struggling, and releasing them confidently to care for others in the process, is so much more healthy than them simply floundering and feeling lost.
We have found that you cannot state your purpose enough. Vision leaks. We quickly forget why we were doing something. A good team is constantly clear about the purpose.
The men of our extended family have a monthly rhythm of going out together. The purpose is for us to create an environment into which we draw our People of Peace (those we are seeking to share Jesus with) and help them start to build relationships into our community. To be honest though, we easily forget. Each month the conversation is all too quickly about what we will do or where will go rather than who we will be with. A good team will keep the purpose alive.
If it’s all purpose, purpose, purpose we will become a task driven group. That’s not what we are after. We are seeking to build community, a family that loves, lives and shares together. For that we need to learn to be together, to laugh together, to share together and to play together.
A good team enjoys hanging out and the health of their relationships sets the culture for the wider community. We cannot reproduce what we do not have, or lead where we have not gone. There’s no short cut here! Ironically we have discovered that some of our family times (we have a Sunday lunch and a Saturday afternoon once a month with no agenda) can be the most fruitful (purposeful).
This one’s obvious, but like the disciples in the garden we can find it hard to persevere. Two things have helped us.
- The first is rhythm. Set times when we will pray. These range from time set aside in huddle gatherings to praying at specific times daily or weekly.
- The second is seasons. We have tried to create different seasons of prayer. For example a 24/7 prayer room or a week where we will share a Daniel-fast together.
Here are a few questions you might like to ask about your team in bringing these principles together?
- does each team member know their strength (place) in the team?
- would each team member articulate the purpose (vision) in the same way?
- when will you next have fun as a team?
- would a new rhythm or a different season help your prayer life?
Simon Harris is the senior minister of Burlington, a Baptist church in Ipswich. He lives in the town with his wife, Ceri, and their four children. He loves a full house with their missional family, time out walking and even the occasional run. Drinking nice coffee and watching Wales play rugby are both part of his life rhythm. Burlington began launching missional communities three years ago.