Thursday, July 3, 2008

Breaking the Missional Code: Best Practices of Leaders and Churches That Break the Code (ch. 14)

This chapter begins with the tension that the current church culture is dying, but God is moving among missional churches – whether they be seeker-oriented, purpose driven, or whatever – and there are consistent practices by the leaders of these churches.

Leaders Who Break the Code Are Forward Thinking
They ask the right things of the right people. The right people aren’t necessarily “experts,” but the people who are unreached and disconnected. That’s what Rick Warren did as he planted Saddleback, though the questions may be different in any given context. It’s easy to let insiders determine what we’re about as a church. If we want to engage the culture and the unreached, we need to engage them and not get trapped in our own echo chamber.

Code-breaking leaders also understand that the future is here. These leaders are either “paradigm busters” or “early adapters,” but they’re rarely late to whatever is going on in culture. They also “learn their way forward,” meaning they aren’t afraid of failure. They’re willing to risk to move forward.

Leaders Who Break the Code Are Willing to Pay the Price
This is challenging to me because I like ease and boundaries. They’re important. I’m reading the Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazerro and going through the workbook with a couple of staff guys to help us stay healthy, but there is still a price to pay for code-breaking leadership. I have to look deep inside and see if I’m willing to pay it.

Breaking the code will cost us dearly physically (there’s much work to be done), emotionally (“it’s always lonely on the front end of vision”), relationally (the leading edge doesn’t have a lot of people for your “spiritual umbrella” either as an individual or a family), financially, and spiritually (spiritual warfare is going to be intense).

Leaders Who Break the Code Build Great Teams
You don’t break the code on your own. You need to “build a team and achieve a shared vision” (p. 201). This is something I’m still growing in. At least I hope I am. I know I’m still not great at it. Stetzer mentions it takes charisma and skills. Maybe that’s why it’s a challenge for me. :)

Leaders Who Break the Code Have a Different Beginning Point
Many of the code-breaking churches, according to Stetzer, are starting from a different place. They’re searching the Scriptures, seeking to be what the church was and are willing to re-think what it should look like. When this is done correctly, it is not a blind backlash against what has gone before, but the desire to be what the Bible has called the church to be and to do so on mission in our world.

Leaders Who Break the Code Connect the Dots
Leaders have a vision, but it is based not on their own desires, but to do God’s will in their context. From there they have a clearly defined process for growth and discipleship. I just read the same in Simple Church by Geiger and Rainer. Finally, they stay focused on their vision and process – also proven by research by Geiger and Rainer.

Leaders Who Break the Code Are Constantly Working on It and Not Simply in It
This is good because it is so easy to be self-focused in ministry or want something to be your idea. But code-breaking leaders are looking around for fresh eyes and fresh ideas. They do so by reading, looking for leaders who are “getting it done,” they use technology, they visit others who are getting it done, take breaks from working on it, and have strategic meetings. Stetzer states, “Church leaders who break the code seldom live on an island” (p. 208).

Leaders Who Break the Code Are Interested in Kingdom Growth
They aren’t necessarily interested in just reaching their campus, but planting churches and continually revealing God’s goodness to other areas.

The Breaking the Code Challenge
1. What Scriptures and/or experiences have most shaped you as a leader?
2. How do these Scriptures and/or experiences still drive you to break the code?
3. What do you need to do to continue to cultivate a passion for breaking the code?

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