As I’ve been thinking lately about the whole stretch of road between living incarnationally as individuals and leading a multiplying movement of churches, I’ve tried to identify all the steps along the way and how they fit together. So far I’ve come up with four separate yet overlapping paths:
- Engaging culture
- Forming missional communities
- Developing leadership
- Multiplying movements
Each of these paths multiplies itself, and each one branches off into the next path. All four paths taken together make up the missional journey of discipleship.
Engaging culture means believers living incarnationally as Jesus did: serving sacrificially, building authentic relationships, and engaging in spiritual transformation. By living in this way, we become better disciples ourselves at the same time as we make disciples of others. As missional leaders, we can help people learn to walk this path of engaging culture.
As more people begin living as Jesus did, we gather together and begin forming missional communities. Missional communities—smaller gatherings of disciples—perform all the basic functions of the church, providing support for one another and equipping for ministry. Indeed, from the perspective of many leaders, missional communities are churches. Yet the third and fourth areas remain important regardless of our philosophy of ministry.
Developing leadership focuses not only on developing individual people but also on developing a sustainable organization that can flex as the ministry grows. Different strategies and structures are needed for different stages of development, and developing organizational leadership provides the structures that keep us on track and help us increase ministry capacity in health ways as we grow.
The intentional growth and development of ministries results in multiplying movements. Healthy churches release their best people to launch movements elsewhere. As they identify and release leaders who are capable of starting multiplying movements, we’ll see exponential Kingdom growth.