Planter: Go Forth and FAIL!

In your church, does everything succeed? If so, something is wrong!


Here’s a question: How many hours is your team spending each week on the weekend worship service? Consider this. If they are spending six, eight or 10-plus hours per person per week producing the highest quality possible service—which is not at all uncommon—then far less missional engagement is the consequence.

And to make matters worse, these people are probably your most committed and gifted leaders since the pursuit of excellence in your services means that commitment to the cause is measured by who is putting in the hours each Sunday morning.

But is God truly honored when we have to cut back on our missional engagement to focus on making our church services perfect? While the “excellence is everything” approach might have been justifiable in Christendom, it won’t suffice today. In a post-Christian culture, that simply won’t do as our theology of mission.

Yes, some people will still accept an invitation to come with us to a service—which is wonderful, and we should mine that opportunity whenever we can. But many others will never darken our doors, however much our services excel. We need to find ways to empower our churches to go to the lost—to help disciples go and make more disciples in their neighborhoods, workplaces and networks of relationships.

Among those we lead, one of our most important tasks is to foster the missional impulse to go and make disciples of the lost.

As disciples of Jesus, we join Him in His mission to rescue the lost, working out how to incarnate the church into those contexts. It is an entrepreneurial mindset, empowering people to become leaders of mission in their neighborhoods and networks of relationships, equipping them to go into all the nooks and crannies of culture and society.

What church leader in their right mind wouldn’t want to see that happen—the previously unchurched becoming committed disciples of Jesus? But to do so, we have to let go of the idol of perfectionism and start to release control.

To encourage the missional impulse among Christians, a core value for leaders must be that we release control of the levers of power. This means that:

1. Not all the good ideas will be ours.

2. Not all the initiatives or big wins will be dreamed up at our desk.

3. We will cease being the focus of all the church’s witnessing efforts: “Come hear our pastor preach!”

4. We will stop being at the center of everything that goes on, and instead we will become a servant and “resourcer” of all the many different people who are committed to making disciples who make disciples.

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Alex Absalom
Alex Absalom is is a writer, thinker and above all practitioner on the art of leading in a disciple-making, mission-focused culture. He writes two to three times a week on intentional missional leadership at his blog and serves on the leadership of RiverTree Christian Church in northeast Ohio, where he has led the church into planting multiple dozens of mid-sized missional communities, along with the associated discipling structures. He also co-founded Synergy, which offers one-day conferences and learning communities for churches and leaders on the missional journey.