One of the key concerns that I had when I was pastoring a church was the nagging feeling that most of my time was being spent in the internal dynamics of the church rather than helping the church grow in its missional identity and function. Of course, as pastors and church leaders, we need to care for our congregations and attend to all the day to day issues of running the church. However, when I talk to my peers in ministry this seems to be a common concern among church leaders; How do we fulfil our duties, care for our congregations, keep up with all the administration as well as connect with our local neighbourhood and empower the church on mission? That is the challenge…
So that’s why I was so excited when I started my role at Morling College and was able to design a new course which would equip Christian leaders to help them move their congregations from maintenance to mission. The course will also help Christian leaders in the workplace develop a missional focus in their organisation.
The result of our research and development throughout 2015, was the launch of The Master of Missional Leadership course at the beginning of 2016. It has been a wonderful experience interacting with Christian leaders in church and the corporate world, thinking through topics around missional spirituality, leadership, Biblical studies and cultural analysis, in order to sharpen their skills as they lead their churches and organisations.
This course is specially designed for practitioners who want to grow their skills in leadership. This is not a course that will merely give you a lot of head knowledge but rather; it will equip the leader to put into practice some of the skills they learn in order to reorient their congregations and workplaces around mission. When I speak to Christian leaders, they tell me that they feel a need for their churches and organisations to refocus around a missional identity, but they are not sure what that looks like or how to implement this process. While there are many books out there on the market that help leaders to make this transition, I think that nothing beats engaging with a specially designed course for this purpose alongside peers who are also asking the same questions.
This is a very unique course in Australia, and one aspect that makes it unique is the project component. We ask our leaders to think about a context which they would like to see become even more missional, and then they develop a project that can be implemented in that context. The project uses the unique methodology of action-research which keeps the leader engaged with the people in that context, in order to learn from them about missional impact. Needless to say, the appeal of this project for practitioners is to be able to get into the field to see what is happening on the ground, and practice what they are learning with their peers at Morling.
Our post-Christendom context in Australia creates a need for a different mindset and body of practices today, both in the church and the workplace, in order to be able to be effective witnesses in our community. On a Sunday morning, what is the average Australian waking up and thinking about doing that day? I dare say it is not about going to church anymore. How do we lead in this new space in which God has placed us? Our hope is of course in the movement of his Spirit in our neighbourhoods, work places and society. However, we can also steward the gift that he has already given us.
If your gift and role is in leadership, then this is a course you can do in order to sharpen the skills that God has given you. In this way, you will be able to continue to lead your church and organisation even more effectively, in the footsteps of Jesus – who gave himself up for our world so that all might come to know his love, grace and salvation.