By Marcia Bosma
In Multiplying Missional Leaders, Mike Breen offers both a vision for missional leadership, and practical tools for identifying and equipping missional leaders. The book is not long, but is packed with useful information, and would be a great addition to any leader’s resource library.
Breen begins by articulating the critical need for missional leadership in the church. Breen suggests churches are full of ‘managers’, but lack true ‘leaders’. Managers can effectively run ministries and programs, but leaders are needed to help expand the Kingdom beyond the walls of the organized church. Leaders hear God’s voice, discern where He is sending them, and carry out God’s vision through Spirit-filled power and ability. Breen goes on to define a ‘missional leader’ as someone who can lead and mobilize 20-50 people, the minimum needed for a healthy, sustainable Missional Community.
Breen then offers several helpful guidelines for identifying missional leaders. He first expresses the importance of a missional leader’s character. Most importantly, missional leaders must never stop growing in discipleship and personal transformation. These are critical foundations for mission. Breen also describes specific areas to evaluate about a missional leader’s character including personal ambitions, temptations, and the need for approval. Breen then outlines the importance of competency for missional leaders. He defines the five core areas of competency as Apostolic, Prophetic, Evangelistic, Shepherding, and Teaching. Breen suggests that while many leaders prefer to focus only on their strengths, it is imperative for missional leaders to have basic competency in all these areas.
Finally, Breen shares a process for equipping and sending missional leaders. He describes this process in very systematic terms and uses Biblical examples from the life and ministry of Paul to show us how it works. Breen is clear that the equipping process will require an intense amount of work and commitment to ensure the missional leader is ready to be sent. But it is an investment worth making for the sake of advancing the Kingdom and making disciples of Jesus.
As Breen describes the different aspects of identifying, equipping, and sending missional leaders, he weaves them together into one important concept: the ‘pipeline’. When missional leaders are adequately equipped and sent, they should be able to then identify and lead others through the same process. It is through this revolving ‘pipeline’ that missional leaders are multiplied.
Mike Breen is known best for his exemplary work with missional communities, and he writes Multiplying Missional Leaders with those communities in mind. In my work as discipleship director of a 3-year-old church plant, I can easily adapt Breen’s concepts to my context. While I am not recruiting leaders to launch missional communities at this time, I am continually identifying and equipping leaders to lead small groups that have been designed to be missional. Our ‘Link Groups’ are seasonal, so there is always an open seat for someone new. We offer a variety of Link Groups, so people can find a good fit based on geographical area, day and time, or topic of study. Groups can stay together from season to season, but must multiply when they become too big. During our fall and winter seasons we focus on discipleship with a strong emphasis on teaching individuals how to live missionally in everyday life. In the summer our groups are based on hobbies or fun gatherings, with the simple goal of building relationships. These summer groups are specific missional opportunities to connect the disconnected; first to community, and eventually to worship and the discipleship pathway.
Because small groups can so easily atrophy and lose their missional focus, I am cognizant of my role as a ministry leader to appropriately identify and equip missional leaders. Breen’s book is a wealth of understandable and practical concepts for doing just that. If you spend time identifying and training missional leaders in any context, I would recommend this book.