As I survey the landscape of church leadership training — including that which comes from a "missional" perspective, I get concerned about how the focus seems to center around the need to experience some degree of success in church life. By "success" I am not referring to it as an antonym of "failure", which is how we typically view success.
As I work with churches, I consistently encounter church leaders not having enough time for relationships.
I was sharing the small-group vision of relational ministry with the key pastors of a church of about 5,000. They had small groups and a relatively good structure, but they wanted to take things to the next level. The senior pastor specifically wanted to see his people enter into a radical new kind of life. When I challenged the pastoral team to set the model, the staff — and specifically the senior pastor — looked at me with concern. They performed some quick time calculations and soon realized that their schedules did not allow for relational investment like this. Their lives were already overflowing with commitments and program-related relationships.
small group training
Two people who became some of my closest friends in high school were invited to a youth camp one summer and decided to come.
They thought it would be fun but weren’t into the religious stuff — so they made a deal before coming: “We’re not going to ‘get saved.’” Well, on the last night, they “got saved.” Sometimes those last-night camp commitments don’t travel back home well. These did. Those friends went from ordinary teenagers to extraordinary models of virtue and grace. God’s work in them was clear. 17 years later, it still is.