Book Review: Multiplying Missional Leaders by Mike Breen

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!


  1. Anonymous6:25 PM

    You should be able to tell by the fruit of any ministry, I can't seem to think of any negative impacts on people from Jesus ministry on earth, if what Mike Breen and 3dm are doing are having a negative affect in not just a couple but vast numbers of churches then something is very wrong. Who exactly is benefiting from the 3dm and TOM movements?? Personally I wouldn't go near either with a barge pole. Neither has ever sat right with me from the beginning, I was never sure why at the time, but clearly as time has gone on I have seen more and more hurt and damage being done. I'm not saying that some churches may have benefited from either or that the leaders know they are doing any wrong as they really seem to believe in both ministries but then again satan is pretty good at messing with and turning stuff to his advantage. My opinion steer well clear !!!!

  2. Anonymous4:20 PM

  3. Anonymous6:57 PM

    Peter preached to the crowd on the day of Pentecost and the crowd was cut to the heart and asked Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Can you imagine Peter saying, “Well, I guess you better repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit......But, what you really need to do is make at least a year commitment to me to be discipled. See, I hung around Jesus for the past three years and watched how he did things. But really, he should have used shapes to tell you how to live and become disciples. I have these eight cool shapes that I'm going to teach you, and it will take a year or so for you to understand, but when you do, you'll be a disciple that can teach other disciples. I know 2000 of you just got filled with the Holy Spirit, but I'm gonna take 5-8 of you, my 'persons of peace' and disciple you for the next year. We're going to use different language than Jesus used to create a 'discipleship culture', because Jesus wasn't really in tune with the language and culture of discipleship like I am. In fact, we'll meet together in a Huddle for at least a year. All of you will be accountable to me and I'll challenge you in those areas where I think you need to be challenged. We'll all meet and discuss what God is saying to us and we'll use words like “kairos moments” and “oikos”, you know, stuff that no one outside our group will understand. I'll get all the other apostles to do the same, so there will be at least 60-96 real disciples after a year! Then they can start their own huddles. Pretty soon, all those Christians that got saved will be discipled, assuming that they are 'persons of peace.' But listen, don't tell the other Christians what we are doing. That would only confuse them.Oh, and for those of you who really get it, I will allow you to become temporary members in this new Order that I run. I need a name for myself. I think I'll be “Peter, the Senior Guardian.” I like that! You'll make a three year commitment to my Order so I can tell if you really are Order material. I'll have you swear to live by the Rules of Life of my new Order, which is ok, because the Rules of Life are based on my cool shapes that will teach you how to make disciples. I'll have you take vows of purity, accountability and simplicity, too! I know Jesus didn't require that, but I want to create “super disciples” and that means I need to be way more demanding than Jesus ever was. I'll call it the Order of Mission! I'll have you swear to your obedience in front of God, the Senior Guardian (that's me, Peter!), and the other Guardians. After three years, you can take a permanent vow to become an Order member for life! That is, if we accept you.The best thing is, I will charge you guys for the “coaching” that I am going to give you! The laborer is worthy of his wages! Not only will I charge you for coaching, but you should also give at least 20 denarii to the Order of Mission each month! In addition, once my disciples get jobs in the big churches, I will get the churches to pay me for coaching! I imagine the coaching fees for the big churches will bring in some big money! Then, I figure I'll write some books on what I'm doing and sell them. Then, we'll start to have training clinics everywhere and charge people to attend! Eventually, we'll invite them to my retreat and charge them for intensive coaching. In fact, I think that I'll require that they come 2-4 times per year to my retreat as part of their “training.” Hmmmm.....I wonder what I should call my little endeavour?”