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- Mailing Address: PO Box 5188 Wheaton, IL 60189-5188
By Brian Jose, Radstock's Executive Director
I know. I get it. We want excellence and good leadership. Heck, I’m was even talking last week to a strategic planning consultant. But I’m aware of the dangers — that I can over-manage our mission into irrelevance. Tim Chester has said that “the Holy Spirit is the great missionary strategist”. I buy that. Sometimes we need to allow the Holy Spirit to manage us, even if Peter Drucker wouldn’t be convinced by our processes. I can hear you. “But why can’t the Holy Spirit speak through the strategic planning process?” He can. He often does.
However, we need to ask ourselves if our cultural affinity with 20th century management techniques limits the work of the Spirit. (And no, that’s not a typo — most of us are stuck in the management mode of the last century.) Let’s be open to more “Macedonian calls” and encourage our missionaries to be ready to move and respond opportunistically and in step with the Spirit. That might mean teaching them (or ourselves) to listen more, and even be less afraid of making mistakes.
Likewise, we need to find ways to mobilise workers more quickly — the fields are white for the harvest. How can we get more people to the harvest now? Could it be that sorting out the retirement and kids’ education fund is the modern day equivalent of refusing Jesus and burying our father? Luke 9:59)
Last month I met the Missions Director of a church that is more than 100 years old. They allocate 30 per cent of their budget to global mission and support dozens of long-term mission workers. He expressed a flexible and refreshing view to not over-managing mission. “After 100 years of sendingmissionaries we have a lot of policies and rules. Most of them are good, but sometimes you have to make exceptions.”
He had to make an exception to a policy in order to send a worker through the Radstock network. His over-arching principle was that he wanted to release an excellent family into the work of global mission. He believed the Holy Spirit was calling this family. He didn’t want his church to stand in the way, even if the policy was generally an example of good management.
The next day I met the Missions Director of a megachurch and he expressed his commitment to allow front-line leaders to lead and manage their ministries, saying that his church would “never give an order or direct what is going on there — we’re going to pray, to send people, and give finance”. I actually encouraged him to see that they are doing more — some of the short term people they send for days, weeks, and months are great encouragers, counsellors and strategic advisors to long term missionaries and national leaders.
Others have spoken helpfully about our Western tendency to adopt a “God complex”. One, sometimes popular, reaction to that is to withdraw and “let the nationals get on with it”. I believe that’s an unhelpful over-reaction and retreat from the battle. Sending churches can be great influencers and contributors, without usurping or interfering in the name of good management.
Sure, go to those management seminars, but remember who is Lord of the Harvest.