Moneyball and Missional Church

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Have you seen the movie Moneyball? If you haven’t, you should. Try watching it with missional eyes.

I’m a student at Fuller Seminary and the other day a group of us were discussion the Alex J. Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk’s terrific book The Missional Leader. In the book, they contrast two styles of church leadership: Pastoral and Missional. Pastoral (traditional attraction church) is described  by a top down hierarchy of responsibility whereas Missional is seen as a linear or flat model of cultivation of mission through empowering others (there is no distinct power structure).  The authors characterize the typical clergy in the Pastoral model as a celebrity or a “home-run hitter.”  In our group, someone asked, “If a pastoral leader must be “home-run-hitter,” then what must a missional pastor be?”

My answer was: “Watch Moneyball for your answer.”

In the movie (and in actual life because it’s semi-autobiographical), manager for the Oakland A’s, Billy Beane figures out that most baseball teams go after the home run hitters and pay them loads of cash because they are flashy (and supposedly win games). But overall, home run hitters don’t win games. Beane began to look at different stats besides the typical batting average and home runs. He discovers that what mattered more than home runs (and resulted in more wins) was simply getting on base (on-base percentage and slugging percentage). If you had more players on base more often, then your chances for scoring (and then winning) greatly increase.

When we go searching for home run hitters (in ministry) we do so because it’s showy, it fills the seats and seems like it can result in more “wins.” But it doesn’t necessarily mean that. Making sure that people are on base is risky because you don’t always know the outcome (with a home run, you at least get 1 run). But getting on base is more missional because it requires others to knock in the runs. It involves more of the team and statistically should produce better results. Ultimately it puts the outcome more in the hands of the Lord and not in Christian superstars.
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Any thoughts?

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