Pastor Jon from Crossway and I are reading this book together. We're continuing to work on transforming the Groups at Crossway and the ideas and tools that Mike Breen gives sound pretty good.
Multiplying Missional Leaders is the second in a (currently) three part series of books by Mike Breen and the folks at 3DM. The books are focused on discipleship and missional communities. They have the reputation for being some of the best books out there if you want to develop a ministry network.
In InterVarsity, we've been working on this for a while. A decade ago we started asking our Small Groups to consider strategically placing themselves in particular corners of campus. Some Small Groups picked dorms. Others focused on specific ethnic or affinity groups on campus. Before we knew it, we found ourselves reaching out to people who no one was reaching out to at all.
Eventually, we realized that we needed to equip students with new skill sets if they were going to plant these strategically placed Small Groups (which we started to call "Missional Small Groups"). These students needed to know how to do more than lead a Bible Study. And so we started asking questions about missional leadership. What does a missional leader need to know how to do? What makes someone a missional leader? How do we create missional leaders in our community?
Multiplying Missional Leaders resonates a lot with what we've experienced over the years. It feels great to see our campus missions discoveries are also being discovered by people in the local-church-world.
Mike Breen writes about the need for missional leaders and about why churches often struggle to create them. He writes convictingly about church cultures that are rife with consumerism and celebrity and competitiveness. And, if we're honest, we can see echoes of those trends in our own ministries. I was particularly struck by this idea: "The means you use to attract people to you are usually the means you must use to keep them" (Kindle Loc 901).
Breen then goes on to write about the character and the competencies needed for people to be missional leaders. These sections left me wishing for more. I'd love to hear more about how Breen develops character and how he trains his missional leaders in the necessary competencies. This was a real strength in Steve Saccone's book Protégé. Perhaps this is something that Breen will write more about in the future.
The most challenging and, for me, most helpful section of the book was the 5 Capitals section. In it, Breen writes about 5 forms of capital that missional leaders need:
• Spiritual capital
• Relational capital
• Physical capital
• Intellectual capital
• Financial capital
Breen argues convincingly that all 5 are important and that the list goes down in descending importance. In other words, physical capital is more important that intellectual capital. All of your intellectual resources will do you know good if you are burned out and exhausted. In my experience, most of the leadership training given to potential missional leaders trends heavy on increasing their intellectual capital and hardly ever touches on the other forms of capital. What will it profit a movement if we raise up leaders who know what do do but lack the strength and depth to do it?
One last thing: throughout the book, Breen asks phenomenal and searching questions. I'll be reflecting on these questions for a while. They alone are worth the price of the book.
I would definitely recommend reading Multiplying Missional Leaders, but would caution you: read this book only if you are willing to act on what you learn. It's all too easy to read books like these and do nothing with them, to feel like reading is the same as doing. Don't do it!