by Steve Addison
InterVarsity Press, 2015
—Reviewed by David R. Dunaetz, assistant professor, Department of Leadership and Organizational Psychology, Azusa Pacific University; former church planter in France
Steve Addison, head of the sending agency MOVE, formerly CRM (Church Resource Ministries) Australia, defines a movement as “a group of people committed to changing the world” (p. 15), a definition broad enough to include churches, parachurch organizations, and missions organizations.
This book supplements his previous books on movements by focusing on the importance of leadership training. Its central argument is that leaders committed to fulfilling the Great Commission need to emphasize training others in evangelism and disciple-making in contrast to simply motivating appropriately gifted people to become leaders in young churches.
In addition to a survey of biblical material on leadership training and several examples of missionaries and churches which have been committed to leadership training, Addison presents several interesting and novel ideas, some of which can potentially challenge the status quo.
Addison suggests, as simply an example and a starting point of conversation, that a missionary committed to leadership training try to train five hundred Christians/year through seminars in evangelism, discipleship, and starting new groups. Perhaps ten percent of these seminar participants will put into practice what they learn. The missionary should try to meet regularly (perhaps once a month) with these fifty or so people for prayer, encouragement, and additional training, including training them to train others. It may be reasonable to expect that ten percent of this group will in turn become trainers.
Taking on a very controversial subject, Addison argues that mission leadership should focus on training trainers within the mission. The leadership of mission organizations should be chosen for their ability to plant churches and train others to do the same. This is in contrast to choosing mission leadership based on seniority, charisma, or administrative skills.
Addison also presents a very strong argument that mission organizations are especially appropriate for ministries focused on training leaders. If the purpose of an organization is to start new churches among people whom existing churches can’t reach, training Christians who are culturally near to the target people to plant churches would enable missionaries to multiply their effectiveness.
This book is appropriate for a surprisingly broad range of audiences:
• Discipleship groups in local churches for young people considering full-time Christian service
• College and seminary classes that examine ways to fulfill the Great Commission
• Missionaries on the field who need a fresh perspective to help evaluate the direction of their own ministry
As I reflected on seventeen years of church-planting ministry in France, this book has confirmed my conviction that I should have spent more time training others. Too often, I simply expected young Christians to rise to the occasion, figuring out the details of ministry by their own wits or by following my example. I now believe that systematically offering training in the basics of ministry would have been far more effective.
Burns, Jack, and Shoup, John R., eds. 2014. Organizational Leadership: Foundations and Practices for Christians. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Northouse, Peter G. 2016. Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.
Sanders, J. Oswald. 1967. Spiritual Leadership. Chicago: Moody Bible Institute.
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