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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

02 Aug '13

The single greatest deficit in missions today

Posted by T.J. Addington in missions
The single greatest deficit in missions today is the scarcity of highly qualified leaders to provide strategic leadership to teams in the field. In my view, of all ministry venues, missions is the one place where leadership gifts have not been seen as important and in many cases, those with leadership skills have either chosen not to go into missions or they have not been able to use their gifts.

The reasons are many. On the local church side, there are many churches who will not support leaders in the field because "they are not doing real hands on mission work." Here is the irony: those very churches would never start a ministry in their congregation without a leader to lead it. In fact, the larger the church the more staff they have - to lead staff and volunteers in ministry endeavors but somehow that is seen as a non-value in missions. 

The result? The very missionaries the church supports are often not nearly as productive as they could be because they are not deployed in teams under strategic leadership. The thinking of churches that leadership in missions is somehow not real ministry is frankly nutty! They would never operate that way and in denigrating leadership in the missions arena they hurt the very investment they are making in missions.

On the mission side, for many years, missionaries have seen themselves largely as "independent contractors" doing their own thing in their own way largely independent of oversight, accountability, strategic considerations and even in many cases direction from the mission agency they serve. That is pretty amazing given the amount of money it takes to keep a family on the field. We would never allow someone to operate that way on the home front.

This mentality has historically not only marginalized leadership gifts but has convinced leaders that they are not welcome in the missions arena. That they are not desired. There are a substantial number of missionaries who like doing their own thing and don't value accountability or leadership. Non leadership and full independence has become a part of the mission culture in many circles.

Yet leadership matters in every arena. We know it does in the church. We know it does in our places of work. We know it does in government. In fact, nearly all of us have experienced the pain of poor leadership at some point in our lives and those of us who are fortunate have experienced the gift of good leadership. 

Under good leadership teams flourish, clarity and focus are defined, there is alignment and cooperation and there are results that are tangible. If these characteristics are needed anywhere they are desperately needed in missions where the eternal stakes are so high and the financial investment supporters are making is so substantial.

The leadership of ReachGlobal, the mission I have the privilege of leading is convinced that the key to every team (and we are all deployed in teams) is a good leader. Without good leadership at all levels we cannot move forward. With good leadership we can develop, empower and release our own staff and indigenous leaders. We are so convinced of this that we have made the recruitment of leaders one of our highest priorities. It has Kingdom implications.

In recent years we have seen key leaders from other agencies come into ReachGlobal precisely because the agency they were with was not leadership friendly. It is a loss for those agencies and a gain for ReachGlobal who not only values good leadership but empowers those leaders to lead. Ironically, those agencies who do not value leadership are also floundering in a changing missions environment.

Here is our commitment: High Impact Ministry Teams on the field wherever we work. A high-impact team is a group of missionally aligned and healthy individuals working strategically together under good leadership toward common objectives, with accountability for results. This is not possible without skilled and empowering leaders. Leaders matter in missions - a lot. The lack of them is hurting mission endeavors globally.

Never underestimate the need for leadership in missions and if you have a passion for missions and have leadership gifts we are one mission that wants to talk with you. We know how important leadership gifts are to the missions task.