"The Missional Leader" is part of a new wave of books seeking to help the church and pastors to be more "missional". The authors focus particularly on leadership issues, so the book is clearly geared for the pastor, though church leadership is also in mind. The authors seem to be coming from a mainline church perspective (many "she's" referring to pastors), but their insights can be helpful for evangelicals as well. After an introductory section on Context and Challenge of Missional Leadership, the reader is challenged to become more of a missional leader by considering areas of character, congregational cultivation, and engaging in local context. The book concludes with an explanation of the author's pastoral evaluation tool.
Critique—Offer a brief critique of the book, including elements of strength and weakness.
Part one was rather amorphous. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the "Three Zone Model of Missional Leadership". More concrete examples would have been helpful here. I was happy to hear that congregations still matter! The book has a lot of vague language that sounds impressive, but left me scratching my head ("Creating spaces of permission", "Spirit-shaped experiments", etc…). And I was never sure what exactly "missional" meant. There were few stories of conversions and conversion growth, which should be the goal of being missional.
Part two was much more helpful. The chapters on the Character of a Missional Leader, Cultivating the People of God for a Missional Future, Forming a Missional environment and Culture, and Engaging context with a Christian Imagination were much more practical and therefore helpful.
Application—Offer some specific application to your own ministry— demonstrating the value and relevance of the material in this book.
The Most valuable material was on personal character. I was challenged to a greater personal maturity, particularly in the areas of being authentic and being self-aware. Also, the emphasis on listening to what God is saying through the members of the congregation was an emphasis I will definitely apply more. I will go back through the material on cultivating people and engaging context as well. I will also have to think about whether "strategic alignment around vision and mission statements are not too helpful at the onset" (p.80).
Best Quote—Be sure to include the page number where the quote can be found.
p. 119: "Today, in discussion about the nature of church leadership, there is little theological wrestling with the questions of how to form or socialize a people into an alternative community. On the contrary, there is growing emphasis on how to help seekers feel they belong in a congregation without any expectations or demands on their lives."