Open Source Mission

Over the past decade, there has been a movement in understanding leadership within the church. We used to consider the strong, dynamic, and visionary leader to be best. That is, the leader would bring in a goal or dream and lead the church in that direction. Of course, this style of leadership and organizational management is fraught with problems. Why would only one person be able to discern the way forward? What happens if that person moves on? What, then, do we do about the Holy Spirit’s movement within the lives of others? Is the leader the only one who truly counts?

The good news is that this understanding is being transformed. The movement is toward a more grass roots understanding of mission. Alan Roxburgh, and others, say that every congregation has the ability to shape the mission of the church. He says that the leader is the cultivator and organizer of the vision that rises from the people. (For a detailed look, check out Missional Leader.)

In other words, the church is moving toward “open source mission.” In the world of technology, open source products have been given boundaries and some shape. However, the creators have kept the program open so that anyone with knowledge can adjust, correct, or add specific focus. Couldn’t this be exactly how the mission of the church is developed. If we trust that every believer is filled with the Holy Spirit and trust the Spirit’s movement, then we can allow the mission of the church to be “written on” by anyone who is in community with the church.

The emergent movement has done some work on open source theology. Part of the focus includes ecclesiology. Perhaps this is where the emergent and missional movements can share creativity and pool thoughts. open source theology and open source mission. They go hand in hand.

Let me go back to something that is hinted at above. I do beleive that it is important for there to be historical boundaries and biblical frameworks in place for any of this open source work. Yet, we can trust the Holy Spirit to guide the process, even as the early church did in the time of the Jerusalem Council and the open source mission of Paul.

So, let’s begin writing onto the mission of God.

UPDATE: The folks at have already been at work on open source mission from the translation point of view. Their ministry is in making the gospel available throughout the world. Right now. Check them out.


One Response to “Open Source Mission”

  1. Andrew M. Says:

    I found you through a Google alert for “open source mission”. You might be interested in a website I help to operate, (originally called We would emphatically agree with your quote, “every congregation has the ability to shape the mission of the church”–but would take it even further to say every Christian. In our case, the Christians that are making a difference are mostly translators, but I think the idea of collaboration is applicable in many venues beyond our little project. I can tell you it is exciting to watch this kind of thing become a reality!

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