Church Shift: How do we move from a 20th Century Method of Church to a 21st Century model of Mission

How do we move from a 20th century method of church to a 21st century model of mission?

20th Century church LOOKS:

  • predictable,

  • stable,

  • secure,

  • loyal,

  • attractional,

  • programmatic  

With that said, 21st Century culture IS:

  • postmodern,

  • pluralism,

  • extreme / hyper individualism,

  • post-religious,

  • missional approach 

How do you bridge this gap between a method of church to mission? Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

Intentional pathways to mentoring

Mentoring is a big word but it is clear that intentional mentoring is one of the most influential aspects to leadership growth in the next generation. To be clear, I am not speaking about passive mentoring (learning from others but they don’t know you). I am not talking about occasional mentoring (age and stage that everyone have had). Even more so, I am not hinting to peer/relational mentoring. Millennials love peer mentoring. Relational/peer mentoring is about sharing feelings, fears, failures... but I’m not talking about this either. What I am talking about is intentional mentoring; an agreed method of growth plans for the mentor and mentee. Imagine what this could look like if we all of us intentionally mentored each other; we would have more leaders. In fact, I think we would have more leaders than what our current models have allowed us to produce.

For me, I do an online intentional mentoring journey called #ANEWME. The program is a strategic 12 month journey with young leaders to go further faster in their character development, confidence in their calling, and deepening the call of God over their lives. For more details on it, check it out here.

For all of us, however, we can ALL be mentors. The question is, who are you mentoring? 

Facilitated collaboration

Styles of communication are changing. When I grew up in a 20th Century culture, the best form of communication was monologue - lectures, TV, movies - were all monologue. Today, in a 21st Century culture, the most beneficial form of communication is collaboration; or dialogue, not monologue. Socials, reality TV are all about dialogue. Good dialogue (or facilitated collaboration) leads to clarity and buy-in.

Young leaders (and generations, for that fact) want to know the WHY behind leadership + ministry decision. In fact, restating the why in collaboration with younger leaders through facilitated conversations leads to cooperation, not debate; buy-in, not confusion; and being “better together” in an oversaturated informational age. This is definitely a skill set we need for leaders today.

Calculated experimentation 

Good experimenting allows leaders to innovate. Inertia (up to 70% of what we do is what we do because it is the only way(s) we know how to do it) does not foster innovation. Experimentation does. For me, I continually experiment on ways how to engage younger leaders, pull in the “fringe”, answer the skeptic/critic with results, and build more pathways for people to become leaders.

Honestly, we need to allow experimenting so we can continue to be effective. Calculated. Result-based. Resourced. Will allow younger leaders to be empowered, well.

Strategic pathways for leadership development

With the current rate of qualified younger leaders around Church culture, we need to create more pathways for leadership development. In my research,  baby boomers (EFC) / millennials / igen need pathways that are different than our current pipelines. I think we need the existing and the emerging. Strengthening the existing won’t create enough leaders for the need. We need emerging pathways as well that include church partnership (not just internships), apprenticeship models, intentional mentoring, and generational connections.

Jesus and His Friends

This brings me to a story about Jesus... and HIS disciples in Matthew 18:1-6. We see, in this passage of Scripture, the NEED for the disciples to LEARN a new pathway for leadership development. Jesus was teaching them to:


The disciples had expectations of an earthly kingdom and power. Jesus told them to quit this type of thinking. In other words, to UNLEARN what the world has taught them about leadership development and to become like little children - moldable, teachable, humble.

Perhaps, we need to unlearn earthly things to relearn kingdom principles…


In this story, the disciples’ question to Jesus was calculated. It was motivated. Their question had an agenda. How many times do we (and I’ve been guilty too) have agendas on God? And as leaders, the people we lead? And as Christians, culture/people who are far from God? It is easier (even though it is hard) to invite people to programs, tasks, initiatives, conversations but very rarely do we invite people into our lives.

Isn’t that opposite of what Jesus did? I believe Jesus invites humanity into HIS life, not into programs… Perhaps, we we need to UNINVITE ourselves from agendas so that we can relearn how to be invited into people’s lives (in and out of our church circles).

UNPOSITION ourselves

A mentor of mine told me that leaders lead in 3 ways: 1) through power (money), 2) position (title), or 3) people (relational) . According to my mentor, the highest form of leadership influence is through relationships. I would agree with him.

With that said, however, those who have the position of power also have the responsibility and ability to make decisions on HOW we influence; and how we move from a 20th century method of church to a 21st century model of mission. 

How are you leading? Not philosophical, but practically? Sometimes… I think we default to power and position rather than with people… what do you think?

After this conversation Jesus had with his friends, a few days later the disciples shoo’d away the children (the next generation) in Matthew 19:13-15. They did this as a “favor” to Jesus. They thought that they were doing a favor for Jesus, his will (per se) to push the children away from Jesus because He was busy with other things... perhaps, more important tasks.

Obviously, they didn’t get it from their first conversation with Jesus, yet, Jesus (full of grace and truth) continued to lead them into kingdom thinking.

My prayer and hope is to see a shift/a move towards intentional pathways of mentoring, facilitated collaboration, courage to take calculated risk and experiment, and create strategic “multiple” pathways for leadership development.


Figuratively, we are simply tying a noose around our necks and linking that rope to a stone to be thrown in the water of irrelevancy (at the rate of not adapting to change), diluted influence (defaulting to power or position rather than people), and floating in the current of comfort (as the silent killer to creativity and innovation). 

How to shift... 

Unlearn so we can relearn, uninvite from our own agendas to be reinvited into peoples lives (personally and corporately in culture) and unpostion ourselves from power and to lead relationally, like never before, with leveraged influence and impact,

What do you think? How do we shift the Church to engage culture?