I was reading another story of how a mega-pastor, this time in Toronto, Canada, resigned after accusations surfaced of adultery and abuse of power. The church has a reported membership of 5,000 people.
It makes me wonder if there needs to be a major restructuring of how we do church, and the answer may be found by implementing what is referred to in military terms as ‘Mission Command.’
That is because bigger is not always better.
What is ‘Mission Command’?
There is an interesting story published in the National Post on how the Canadian army has helped Ukraine resist the Russian invasion by helping it implement a ‘Mission Command’ structure.
With Russia’s vastly superior army, in size and technology, I thought the war would be over in a couple of days, and I suspect Russian president, Vladimir Putin, expected the same thing.
But it hasn’t and Putin is struggling.
And more importantly, does it have any implications for today’s church, which is also increasingly under attack.
In his article, How training by Canada helped give Ukrainian army a fighting chance against Russia, Tom Blackwell explains that five years ago, the Canadian military helped Ukraine implement ‘Mission Command.’
As a former member of the Soviet Union, Ukraine commanders were trained in a top-down style of leadership, where small unit leaders were unable to do anything unless they received orders from above.
But ‘Mission Command’ changes all that.
In place of the top-down style of leadership inherited from Soviet days, the Canadians and other NATO instructors tried to instill the idea of giving small-unit commanders the autonomy to make decisions on the fly.
It was a cultural transformation, but seems to be paying off in spades as the out-gunned Ukrainian forces perform remarkably well against a Russian onslaught, says one of those teachers from Canada.
The attacks that have helped stall a huge Russian convoy north of Kyiv, for instance, have been made possible partly by small-unit leaders taking the initiative to craft their own ambushes, says Capt. Hugh Purdon.
“That all comes down to a platoon or section commander saying ‘We’re going to use the Javelin (anti-tank weapon) here and then we’re going to pull back and use the Javelin here,’” he said. “You multiply that thousands of times and all of a sudden you have a viable defence.”
In other words, these commanders received their overall orders, also known as a mission, but how they achieved it was totally up to them. They didn’t have to check in with their higher-ups to find out what they should do, these smaller unit commanders had complete autonomy to make their own decision and just go out and do it.
With these units functioning on their own, Russia is facing an army full of armies.
When Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the gospel, we read that the Lord not only gave them power, but also authority.
“Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 10:1-2)
In other words, they had the autonomy to spread the gospel in the way they felt best. A disciple didn’t have to text Christ or Peter and ask if he had permission to cast out this demon or go here, he just did it.
These 70 disciples were taking on a much larger spiritual force, the god of this world, but they were able to take the battle to the enemy:
“Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’” (Luke 10:17-18)
God has called all Christians to preach the gospel, that is our mission, but in today’s church, it is relegated to professionals. We tend to have a very top-down leadership, whose primary goal is to build their particular church, not necessarily the Kingdom of God.
In Ephesians 4:11-12, we read that God gave gifts to the church, Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.”
These five-fold leaders are supposed to equip the people to do the work of their ministry, what God has called them to do, not necessarily to be the next usher or Sunday school teacher supporting the pastor’s personal ministry.
Whether you have gone to Bible school or not, God has called each one of us to a ministry, and the Church leadership’s goal is to help you fulfill your personal call:
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11).
Has God called you to do something? Are you doing it?
Big ministries also have a vulnerability. To discredit the gospel, all Satan has to do is focus his attack on the one top guy, and it seems to be working.
If you have been following the war, have you noticed how Ukraine’s army has focussed on taking out the Russian generals and leaders because it can paralyze an army that has a heavy top-down structure? And perhaps not coincidentally, Satan has focussed his attack on leaders of mega-churches.
- READ: Ukraine Claims To Have Killed Fifth Russian General Since Start of the War AND Celebrity Pastors Falling Hard; Evangelicals Must Be More Suspicious: Theologian AND Houston Megachurch Pastor Resigns Over Affair In Latest ARC-Planted Church Scandal
So what is the answer? Churches need to empower their people. Create an army of armies.
But it is not just that, church members also need to take responsibility for their personal callings. We need to start doing it as well.
While most churches struggled during the COVID lockdowns, I read how Summit Church, in Cincinnati, actually grew during the pandemic.
It was a mega-church with 12,000 people meeting in 12 different locations across the city. According to an article on CBN, the church grew to 15,000 people during the height of the pandemic.
How was this growth achieved?
Aside from its Sunday morning services, Summit had developed a house church system, that held additional services during the week.
They made one change.
They empowered their house group leaders.
Instead of being an extra service during the week, they closed down the main services, and their small groups became the church. Many of them met on Sunday morning and their numbers exploded as they were given the authority to be the church.
These smaller unit commanders understood it was now on them, and they responded.
It’s not that we haven’t seen success with our current church model, but things are changing in the world. It is becoming increasingly antagonistic to the gospel.
We are under attack, and I wonder if the church may need to make some adjustments to survive.
READ: Megachurch Pastor Bruxy Cavey resigns over adultery, abuse of power: ‘My greatest failure’ AND How training by Canada helped give Ukrainian army a fighting chance against Russia AND Still closed by pandemic, some churches are shifting to Biblical home Church: ‘God’s doing a new thing’