By Dr. Randy L. Rowland
Different cultures, generations, personalities and contextualized needs in a world of growing diversity call us away from prescribing models and toward the naming of underlying principles which describe how the mission of Jesus Christ can be advanced. Of course, models will emerge from various settings that have transferability in great measure to other contexts, which might be of some assistance to those starting new missional enterprises. Models then, emerge out of the stories we tell of how God has and continues to use these underlying principles toward fulfillment of His ends.
The following six principles appear and reappear in Scripture, in the history of the church and pockets of current missional practices:
- Propinquity — A web-based dictionary states that “In social psychology, propinquity (from Latin propinquitas, nearness) is one of the main factors leading to interpersonal attraction. It refers to the physical or psychological proximity between people.” Ministry clusters work best when tightly geographically dispersed and where frequent interrelationships between leaders and members of ministries happen almost spontaneously.
- Partnership — Collaboration, teamwork, synergy. Call it what you want, but all ministry multiplication centers must have a sense of partnership wherein there is both give and gain, voice and vote. Partnership is a key to all future ministry and should be so fundamental as to almost not require mention.
- Parity — Everyone is a leader in their own right. Clusters operate best when the leadership is shared and distributed and when distinctions between types of credentialing and experience are minimized. Younger leaders, ethnic leaders, and of course, women have a strong voice at the table in an effective and growing cluster.
- Preparation — Leadership is by its very nature an amateur event. Leaders and participants in clusters commit to learning together and co-mentoring one another for the purpose of increasing common language and understanding, fostering greater competence in ministry and for the purpose of wooing, training and deploying new leaders.
- Purpose — Each cluster must develop its own purpose, goals and shared missional practices rather than assuming imported visions, imposed ideas from one strong leader or a misplaced belief that “the Holy Spirit just does it.” Effective clusters sense the movement of the Spirit of God throughout the vision, planning and execution processes.
- Propagation — Missional clusters by nature must result in the growth and renewal associated with the Gospel in word and deed in a growing number of sites with a growing number of disciples.
- Pioneering — Rapid multiplication of effective ministry is dependent upon a pioneering spirit wherein new ideas are welcomed and applauded and where those gathered around the mission are “permission giving” and “can-do” minded.