THE UMI LEADERSHIP QUALITIES
Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14) That is true of identifying urban church planters for the Urban Missions Initiative. The following areas have been identified as both a missionary profile and a screening process for urban missionaries. The calling must include a passionate commitment to disciple people in an urban context, perhaps even before they have made a decision to follow Christ.
The following is a partial list of attributes necessary to an urban missionary being effective:
- Listener: they must have excellent and organic listening skills
- Faithful: they must be committed to urban ministry for the long haul, since building trust and relationships with the community takes time.
- Incarnational: they must have a winsome personality, a gatherer of people; demonstrable people skills are a must.
- Self-Aware: they must be able to navigate diverse social climates without being overly opinionated, insensitive, unnecessarily controversial and marginalizing.
- Self-Leadership: they must possess the ability to lead from within; they must demonstrate self-mastery.
- Empathetic: they must connect with people with not only their heart (compassion), but with their head (intelligence).
- Flexible: they must be willing to both support and lead, and know when to do each; assessing how to steer conversations with grace in the moment is essential.
- Humility: they must not get hung up on numbers or recognition; since a “big” church is not necessarily the goal, the urban missionary must possess a passionate desire to make Jesus famous before all else.
- Engaging: they do not have to be an extrovert, but neither can they be withdrawn, moody, or prone to disengage from community.
- Leadership Style: An urban missionary must lead organically; a collaborative leadership style is desired for the urban context. Organic, collaborative leaders gain the most trust and respect, and are given a platform by their neighbors and peers.
There are several skills that must be mastered in launching a neighborhood-centric church effectively. While these skills may come naturally for some, all urban planters must deliberately and continually hone their approach in the following areas:
- Intentional Learning: to be effective in the urban context, the church planter must not only be able to listen well with individuals in conversation, they also need to be highly attuned to the neighborhood culture to hear the generative themes in order to assess what “good news” would look like in the community
- Good Communication: they must develop the indigenous language skills of the cultural groups they are seeking to reach and know how to communicate the vision in a compelling way without relying on esoteric “spiritual” terms from their faith background
- Community Development: they must learn to embrace and leverage what the community is passionate about along with its primary issues of concern when necessary and as appropriate; they must likewise be creative and proactive with new and meaningful initiatives within the community, i.e., they must become a cultural architect
- Spiritual Discernment: the church planter must possess the supernatural ability to prophetically see the person of peace within their community—the one whose heart has been prepared by the Holy Spirit to welcome the urban missionary, and ultimately, the gospel.
- Strategic Prescience: they must “know” when and how to start a faith gathering and what types of initiatives are spiritually a good fit for the community.
- Consensus Building: they must be able to network with others from inside and outside of their personal faith sphere who can benefit/give life to the community and ultimately the faith gathering