Taking Risks and Granting Permission
Updated: Sep 16, 2019
Missional leaders must be prepared to take risks and grant permission. They cannot settle for the status quo because the church in Australia is in serious decline. The denominations, which appear to be the most numerically successful in Australia, are barely holding their own, while others are in decline and ageing. The average age of church members in Australia is 55, and that age is rapidly rising. Less than four per cent of young people under 30 is involved with the church today. Slightly fewer than eight per cent of Australians attend church every week. Traditionally, the church has been averse to taking risks, and it has often been reluctant to grant permission for new missional ventures. But a missional community with missional leaders would prefer that people tried and failed, rather than they had never tried at all. There is nothing wrong with failing, but there is a serious problem with doing nothing. Oswald Sanders, the great Australian mission leader of a bygone age, wrote, “A great deal more failure is the result of an excess of caution than of bold experimentation with new ideas. The frontiers of the kingdom of God were never advanced by men and women of caution.”
The church at Antioch under the guidance of the Holy Spirit took a risk and granted permission for Paul and Barnabas to go off on their first missionary journey in Acts 13. If the Antioch church had written to the church at Jerusalem to apply for permission, the Jerusalem church would probably have set up a committee. After six months of painful deliberation, they would have concluded that the venture was untenable and, perhaps even unnecessary. In taking that risk, the church at Antioch sent out two of its best leaders. The consequence was that Asia Minor and parts of Europe were won for Christ. The Gentile church may not have come into existence if they had not taken that risk, and we would not be in the church today.