Reggie McNeal, in his book Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders offers that one key ability for leaders is to be able to ask the right questions. He offers them like this:
Wrong question: How do we “do church” better?
Tough question: How do we “be church” better? Or how do we deconvert from “churchianity” (institutional religion) to Christianity (the movement)?
Wrong question: How do we grow this church?
Tough question: How do we serve this community?
Wrong question: How do we develop church members?
Tough question: How do we develop followers of Jesus?
Wrong question: How do we plan for the future we see?
Tough question: How do we prepare for the future God sees?
Wrong question: How do we develop leaders for church work?
Tough question: How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement?
The ability to frame and think about the tough questions will be key for any leader (or any future leader) in the church. McNeal’s argument is that it is the ability to know only know the difference, but the ability to answer these questions, that distinguish good leaders from great ones.
Do you have the ability to see the difference and to answer the tough questions?
For many the answer is probably no, in large part because the paradigm is different. For who start with the assumption that everything is about the church, they become self limiting in how they can answer these questions. The first step to take in being able to answer the tough questions is to understand that God’s end goal is not an advancement of the church, but the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
Don’t get me wrong, the church is important. It is God’s primary way and desire to work in the world. But his end goal is not to build a bigger church, but to advance his kingdom, his way of living in the world. Great leaders are able to see the difference and always work to advance the Kingdom.
And a strange thing happens: when people build on the kingdom, the church always grows; but building the church doesn’t always build the kingdom.
Or, as Mike Breen as put so well, “If you make disciples, you will always get the church. But if you make a church, you rarely get disciples.”
Which are you building?
What kind of leader are you?
McNeal, Reggie (2009-05-18). Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series)
Breen, Mike (2011-08-16). Building a Discipling Culture. 3DM.