The Absence of Missional Leaders

I’ve been thinking about the absence of missional leaders. I believe that there is a direct connection to the training pastors receive in seminary.

I am so grateful for my seminary experience – however, it lacked any significant training to fulfill the mission of the church. I love that I was taught how to study God’s Word, to defend God’s Word and to teach God’s Word. I really enjoyed my systematic theology classes. I learned a lot in my church history and homiletics classes, too.

However, as I reflect on my training, I had only one class on mission and evangelism. That was the only class that addressed the mission of the church. That’s the only class that attempted to equip me to equip others to fulfill Jesus’ mission for the church.

Here’s the reality: Pastors are not trained for mission, neither are they trained to equip others for mission. Therefore, no one should be surprised that the mission isn’t being accomplished in America.

I was surprised to learn recently that

  • “Roughly half of all churches in America did not add one new person through conversion growth [in 1999].” (Tom Clegg and Warren Bird, Lost in America, p. 27)I personally doubt that has changed at all in the past few years.

Part of the problem is that pastors are trained to maintain the members, keep the members happy, and be paid by the members. They are not trained to equip the members for mission or to lead the members in making disciples of non-disciples. (Almost all the church planting candidates I assess are weakest in relating to unbelievers. Most do not have close friendships with any non-Christians and few are seeking to initiate them.

This is why I believe that Missional Transformation is vital for the church in America! I want to encourage believers to make Jesus’ mission their very own. And I long to empower pastors and church leaders to see their strategic role in building missionary congregations who are reaching the world for Christ.

“Local congregations the world over will gain new life and vitality only as they understand the Missiological purpose for which they alone exist, the unique culture, people, and needs of their context, and the missionary action through which they alone will discover their own nature as God’s people in the world.” (Charles Van Engen, God’s Missionary People, p. 20)

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Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
4 replies
  1. Bob Carder
    Bob Carder says:

    Dave said, Part of the problem is that pastors are trained to maintain the members, keep the members happy, and be paid by the members. They are not trained to equip the members for mission or to lead the members in making disciples of non-disciples.

    The Planter: Well put and very true! When will our colleges and seminaries realize this? And, if or when they realize it will they ever take this out of the context of the same-o in order to lead the way for the Spiritual Transformation you describe?

  2. Bob Carder
    Bob Carder says:

    Your beating my drum on this one.

    If the seminaries and colleges won’t do it, we must!

    Here’s what I am seeing. We have the Keystone Training through World Partners, Missionary Church, where national leaders from around the world are brought to Keystone South Dakota for a month long training for missional disciple making movements. All expenses paid. I said free!

    This spring over 60 leaders will be trained for 10 days in Keystone for disciple making movements that lead to God birthed disciple driven Churches. All expenses paid. I said free!

    This is done by the generous donations of missional businessmen who care about the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

    In St. Louis we are developing a training deal to fuel this and also apprenticeships free for those who are serious.

    Bethel College is joining our Regional Training Centers in the Midwest District, Missionary Church to train Missional Leaders for the Harvest in targeted regions of the Midwest. More on that later.

    As the training institutions lag behind we must run ahead in the raising up of missional leaders by creating affordable learning venues that fill this need.

    I agree, we lack missional leaders for all the reason you state. Keep beating the drum, my friend.

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