A book that I recommend for church leaders to go through together is Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church by Reggie McNeal. Reggie McNeal is a part of Leadership Network and is a nationally known missional leader. I also have an affection for him as one of my teachers in the D.Min. program at Fuller Theological Seminary.
I owe a lot of my ideas for the practical outworkings of missional theology to Reggie. (He also is a pretty engaging speaker.) In this new book he shares a lot of these practical ideas. He goes through three major shifts that the church must take to be missional. These include:
- Shift from an internal to an external focus.
- Shift from being program-driven to being people-driven.
- Shift from a church-based leadership to kingdom-based leadership.
Let me comment a moment on the second shift (from program driven to people driven). What is the difference between a program and a people focus? Admittedly, sometimes there is a fine line between these two approaches.
Here are some usual differences:
- A program focus is usually inflexible. It has set times and ways of doing things. A people focus is adjustable and customizable.
-A program focus leads to a failure to reexamine why programs exist and if they are effective. A people focus is by nature flexible and adaptable to the particular people involved.
- A program focus measures success by number of participants and smoothness in operation. A people focus measures success by the impact something has upon people's lives.
We live in a constantly changing world. With the Internet, more and more employers are offering flex time and the ability to work at home. Degrees are offered entirely online. Help on most any topic is available day or night through Google. And yet, most churches all "do church" the way that they always have. Set times for every meeting, with no alternatives. No help available for spiritual formation outside of these times. A curriculum that was made up in another state, for another community, for another era. People are drafted for ministries which they have no gifting in, and the very life is sucked out of them by serving for long periods filling someone else's agenda or a program that was begun 50 years ago whose original aim was forgotten . . . . (I ran that sentence on on purpose).
Being people focused requires more intimate time spent with people. It requires listening to where they are in life and helping them grow in the areas where the Holy Spirit is prompting them. It is hard to think of Jesus being program driven, as most every conversation that he had was uniquely, well, personal!
What do you think of the program-driven vs. people-driven models?