One of this week’s meetings was an assessment conference for developing a contextualized training plan for a missional church leader and commissioned pastor candidate, Rodrigo Cano. He is the Hispanic church planter of Alas Conexion (Connections) Church, Grand Rapids, MI. Pastor Cano is pictured with his mentor and friend, veteran missionary to Mexico, Rev. Jim Heneveld.
Rodrigo was born in Mexico. He has a BA in Business Administration from San Diego State University. His ministry experiences include preaching, leading worship and Bible study, youth ministry, and translation work. His leadership style, and that of mentor Jim Heneveld, is consistent with the content of a classic resource on the missional church. Following is a review of The Ministry of the Missional Church (Craig VanGelder) by CLC facilitator, Rev. Andy Bossardet.
Church leadership books can be a mixed bag. Some offer support on nurturing a relationship with God, while others rely heavily on current systems thinking and sociological data. The Ministry of the Missional Church manages both in a way that calls leaders to fully rely on the Holy Spirit, while also taking advantage of the shared wisdom of the Body of Christ. It is a landmark piece of work.
The beginning of the book is filled with deep theology and a well-rounded discussion of the Holy Spirit, which aims to include people of various traditions and backgrounds. (Anyone who desires to have a brief summary of the work of the Holy Spirit would be well-served to check out the opening chapters of VanGelder’s book.) The Ministry of the Missional Church also takes a look at the current state of the Church and her identity. VanGelder argues that the Church is missional by nature, and, therefore, mission is to be viewed less as an optional activity for a few and more as the very center of the Church’s activity. Also, the Church is a community by nature, and so the mission of the Church is meant to be practiced in community and not simply by individuals.
The community of Christ, the Church, exists in a greater context- the world. And since the world is always changing, the Church is also always changing. Sometimes congregations change because of circumstances – persecution, major cultural shifts, or crises. Other times, congregations change because of intentional and strategic realignment with God’s mission in the world.
VanGelder spends a fair amount of time explaining the relationship between understanding one’s congregation both as an open system and as a community called by the Spirit. The author explains characteristics of an open systems, missional approach as the following:
-Starts with the context in which the congregation is located.
-Identifies the boundaries that give the church its identity within its community.
-Seeks feedback and examines results: i.e., people and resources flowing in, ministry flowing out.
-Defines its purpose (mission), core missional practices, and vision.
-Develops visionary leaders and a strategic infrastructure.
-Recognizes Holy Spirit-guided transformation.
While VanGelder’s work is an introduction to the theological work of church strategy, it is also among the best, most faithful, and most thorough that we have read.
Church Leadership Center works in partnership with pastors, churches, and other ministry groups to prepare congregational leaders for advanced levels of service. We do this by means of assessment interviews and reports; personalized training plans, classes, and certification so that participants are able to increase their effectiveness in all areas of church life. Click here for more information. To view videos about Commissioned Pastors and those who support them, click here. To read previous blogs, click here.
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With thanks to Rev. Andrew Bossardet for this book review. Andy is an online course facilitator for Church Leadership Center and pastor of Glen Lake (MI) Community Reformed Church. He is pictured here with his brand-new son, Micah Thomas Bossardet, born April 7 2014.