\”If you believe that mission happens naturally in congregations through business as usual,
then the only kind of pastoral leadership you need is operational leadership:
someone to preach the Word, conduct services, oversee programs, and keep the campers happy.
If, however, you believe that mission happens only through the courage to
continually realign an organization\’s culture with the values of Christ,
then you need something more in a pastor.
You need transformational leadership.\”
John Edmund Kaiser
Rarely does mission happen naturally. That is largely due to the fact that congregations are made up on people – normal people who find that our default setting is to look out for ourselves before having a concern for others. As church consultant Bill Kemp once observed, \”It is human nature to be protective of ones own turf and to perpetuate practices that have become familiar and habitual.\” Intentional change to adapt to a changing world is difficult. This is true for the church.
Where does the church begin? The starting place for a vital and compelling ministry in the local community must always be the assertion, \”It\’s not about us. It\’s about God.\” Congregations that lack vitality are ones that operate as if \”our preferences, our tastes, and our needs\” were the most important considerations. Naturally, such a belief makes \”us\” the center, not God.
The next step is personal formation by each member into the character of Jesus. The Bible is quite clear that the church is the body of Christ, called to continue the earthly ministry of Christ. Another way of saying that is to imagine the whole gathered church standing in front of a mirror. Does the reflection look anything like Jesus? Or does the mirror simply reflect a whole bunch of people wrapped-up in self-interest? Christian formation is simply the intentional process of changing our form, our reflected image in the mirror, to look more and more like Christ.
Finally, the effective church is one where those who are being formed into Christ accept some responsibility, some ministry in the church that makes sense to their own ability and talent. God never intended the church to accomplish ministry by paid staff only. The strength of any church is measured by the number of members who understand that they have a responsibility to share in the common ministry. Additionally, the Book of Ephesians teaches that the work of ministry is an indispensable tool for continued growth into the image of Jesus (Ephesians 4:12-13).
Someone has correctly said that it\’s time to get serious about the reason our congregation exists. We are not here for ourselves. Through our baptism, we have joined a movement larger than ourselves. We are now on God\’s mission. And that work will not be completed until, as scripture says, every knee, of every nation has bowed before Jesus Christ and acknowledged Him Lord.