You cannot lead a missional community on your own and you aren’t supposed to even try. But sharing leadership with others is hard, especially when you don’t know the different roles. This post examines the types of leadership roles to be shared and the servant responsibilities to be delegated.

Sharing Leadership Roles

You’re inclined to be a “team player” but what position do you play? What type of leader are you, what is your primary role within the community, and what do the other leaders do? It is impossible to share leadership without knowing your role and the role of others. We think there are two broad leadership roles that must be expressed in every missional community: Missional Leaders and Shepherding Leaders.

Missional Leaders

They focus on the missional aspect of the community. They lead the community in its common mission. The common mission of your missional community will be specific, relational, and regular. Meaning, you will know who the people are, you will be able to get to know them, and you will serve and be around them often. The missional leader is the champion for the mission. This person is regularly reminding the group about the mission and why the group shares the mission. This leader’s role is connecting the group to the mission and letting people know the next steps and opportunities. They are also thinking through the gifts, hearts, and restraints of each person in their community and inviting them into the common mission. These leaders facilitate the conversations about participating in God’s mission and serve as a voice clarifying what mission is and are thinking through how they can create a missional discipleship environment.

Shepherding Leaders

These leaders focus on the internal care of the community. They are thinking through the spiritual formation and discipleship of the people in their community. This person facilitates conversations about growing in our devotion to God and one another. They serve as the voice clarifying what loving Jesus and His community looks like. They regularly ask, “How are we doing loving one another? How are doing at learning to follow Jesus together?”

For the group to explore faith and obedience together, you will need a leader who can guide and lead discussions around the gospel, community, and mission. This leader enjoys teaching and explaining new truths as much as helping others engage those truths with questions. They will be good teachers and good listeners, too. Their job isn’t to preach, but to help others grow in their understanding of the gospel.

All Missional Community Leaders are called to pray for the people in their community and their gospel growth. All leaders are called to take initiative in the discipleship of others. And, all leaders are called to the mission. The missional and shepherding leaders work completely together to create the discipleship environment from their unique perspectives. Sharing leadership in this way usually requires monthly meetings to pray, discuss the group, and make a modest plan.

Sharing Responsibilities within a Missional Community

Missional communities require a team effort. Typically we view the leaders of our community group as the ones who serve, host, lead discussions, and create the environment for us to grow. However, any sustainable community that is on mission and sharing life will require a team of leaders. It will require people to operate in their gifts to serve and create an environment of gospel growth. This results in everyone in the community having a crucial part to play and submitting to one another in each role. Missional community meals will frequently look more like a leadership team meeting than topdown teaching.

Healthy communities share the load of being a community. There are four important servant roles, in addition to the leadership roles mentioned above, that ought to be filled by different people. There are others, but these are the important ones to get started.

Meal Planner

You will want to delegate someone who likes to communicate clearly what the plan is for the upcoming week with the food and any other things coming up. Have this person communicate in whatever way is best for everyone (text, email, Facebook), about what to bring for the next meal, parties, service opportunities, etc. This leader needs to enjoy communicating in a friendly way, organizing, and delegating.

Prayer Person

This person is responsible for calling the community to prayer, they lead prayer times, and are the spokespeople for turning the missional communities attention to asking God and listening to God. This person will organize and facilitate times of prayer. They will also share prayer requests. They are the leaders who are intentionally thinking through prayer in the life of the community.

Host

Who can host the weekly meals? Who is blessed by having people in their homes and will think through creating a space that is conducive to sharing an intentional meal and discussion each week? The host ought to be a welcoming person who views their home as an outpost of the kingdom and space to share in gospel conversation.

Being the host doesn’t mean they clean up by themselves. From the very first meeting, invite everyone to pitch in with cleaning up after the kids, washing dishes, taking out the trash, and putting the home back the way it was when everyone arrived. Everyone participates in family chores! If your community treats the host family like a restaurant or catering service, you aren’t cultivating community.

Children’s Coordinator

If your missional community has young kids, you will want to have this leadership role. Who can organize the group to care for kiddos during the weekly discussions? This is usually as simple as someone making a calendar and having everyone sign-up. One simple method for structuring the kid’s time is to have the adult leaders:

  • Teach the kids how to do something the leader is really good at (like play music, soccer, paint, cook, jump rope, etc.). It could be anything.
  • Share with the kids an important part of their story in learning who Jesus is and what he has done for them.
  • Share their favorite Bible verse and explain what it means and how it has affected their lives.

Reflection

What pictures of shared leadership can you think of in the Bible? What is good, bad, and ugly about sharing leadership?

Do you have a tendency to “do everything” or “tell others what to do?” How will that affect the way you share the load of being a missional community?

Pray for co-leaders and for God to connect you with others who have a similar passion.

Preparation&Planning

What type of leader are you: missional or shepherding? How will you live out that role distinction?

Who will you share leadership with? What is their leadership like?

How will sharing leadership challenge and grow you in the gospel?

As you envision your community, what responsibilities need to be delegated? What roles are and aren’t filled?

Brad A. Watson serves as a pastor of Bread&Wine Communities in Portland, Oregon where he develops, coaches, and trains leaders to form communities that love God and serve the city. Brad is passionate about helping people live lives that reflect their belief and hope in Jesus. He lives in southeast Portland with his wife and their three kids.