Looking back over Alan Roxburgh’s The Sky is Falling, I was again taken with his leadership typologies. Roxburgh is arguing that churches should move away from modernity’s sola pastora project and the myth of the great leader with great plans into a communitas where diverse roles are being met and people – what he calls “liminals” and “emergents” – can come together in an effort to create new missional imagination. (Now only people involved in the emergent/missional conversation will understand that last sentence.) In essence, Roxburgh is saying that to function in the emerging missional era, church leaders need to recapture some lost and under-appreciated leadership types and bring the fullness of God’s gifting to the table. Roxburgh offers three types:
1. The Leader as Poet.
“The pet’s role is to articulate the tradition so that it gives meaning and language to the people’s current confusion. Ancient poets would do this through music, story, writing, art, and imagery. Their core skills were the ability to listen to the stories of the dominant, surrounding culture, understand the ways it enters, shapes, forms, and interacts with the community, and unfolds what is happening in these currents through their art.”
2. The Leader as Prophet
“Prophets reconnect people with the meaning and actions of God’s radical call out of the past and invitation into the present practices of eschatological Spirit. In our time the gospel has been reduced to values and morals, to aesthetics and spiritual experiences. Because of this, it is different to encounter the God of Scripture. Ecclesial life is not about the formation of a missional community, but the formation of the church as an instrument for marketing religious goods and services. Only by reinhabiting its foundational stories in Scripture and tradition can the church comprehend and encounter God’s story. The prophet creates situations that compel the community to do just that.”
3. The Leader as Apostle.
“The apostle’s passion and single-minded focus on turning God’s community into a people of action around the missio dei (mission of God) can make them threatening to people. Church systems have tended to push such leaders out because of fear and their inability to control such leaders. Apostles, even more than prophets, threaten the culture of the organization because they push for action and can articulate how that action might happen. Furthermore, the apostolic gift has hardly been recognized in the pastor-dominated paradigm of leadership. It is, therefore, difficult for those with apostolic gifts to understand their impact within pastor-dominated systems.”