Missional theology reframes a College Chaplain to understand their calling as a Missional Leader in the specific school to which God has called them.
What would happen if God’s missional vision for the entire created order so captured the heart of School Chaplains that their Colleges and classrooms become mission fields filled with potential missional leaders ready to be discovered, trained, equipped, and released into the broader 21st century culture? Chaplain, Reverend Melinda McMahon, believes such a theological framework would inspire every School Chaplain to regard themselves as a Missional Leader in their specific education environment, assisting them to develop missional-shaped discipleship programs which would inspire and train young potential Missional Leaders for today’s confused world.
For the past few years I have been on a journey of personal discovery. Not only did I desire a deeper understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ who ministers as a College Chaplain, but what it means to be a Missional Leader in my school. A Missional Leader regards their primary goal, not just to make disciples of Jesus Christ, but to develop disciples who become disciple makers themselves. Such a re-identification has been inspired by my professional development study towards a Masters in Missional Leadership.
However, it took a semester assignment to apply this adjusted role identity into my teaching chaplaincy role. The dynamics of missional leadership opened my eyes to recognising discipleship as the primary method by which God’s missional vision of a restored world will eventuate. In keeping with Jesus command “Go and make disciples of all nations”, every Chapel service, student leadership program, Christian Studies lesson, Service or Mission Trip, and the ongoing spiritual nurture of students take place for the purpose of developing witnesses to God’s future reign.
However, John Storey’s article in Christian Schools Education entitled “Developing Student Leadership: is it Intentional at your School?” (2005-2006) Vol 9, No. 2) challenged me as it showed that 90 percent of Christian schools were not intentional about developing student leaders.
As I read the pages of ASA Newsletter, I was inspired to read of many examples of Chaplains being Missional Leaders who raise up other missional leaders, through the vehicle of disciplemaking. Matt Shorten’s article in September’s issue of ASA Newsletter entitled “Servant Leadership” describing two year 9 students who meet for lunchtime discipleship with year 7 students was one example. Certainly, disciplemaking activities occur frequently in many schools, through leadership programs, lunchtime CRU groups, etc.
However, this semester’s assignment required me to identify and evaluate the discipleship program in my specific Christian context, and if lacking, develop and create a new program which fosters the spiritual formation of all students to whom I minister. The evaluation identified that while every effort was being made to teach a Biblical worldview in the Christian Studies classes, and a contemporary theme and liturgy was used in Chapel Services, the effort to develop disciples of Christ who were being equipped and empowered to become disciple-makers themselves could be improved.
As Secondary School Chaplain, I personally encounter approximately 450 students in their Christian Studies lessons on a weekly basis and less personally in weekly Chapel services. So I asked, how could the technological tools available in my current educational environment be harnessed to assist me to monitor and develop the spiritual formation of my students? Additionally, how could I develop a discipleship program which grows students towards missional leadership?
It became clear that a unique spiritual formation program was needed which would:
- equip the Chaplain with tools to identify the faith stage of each student under their care and regularly monitor their spiritual growth/progress.
- facilitate the development of new and/or existing resources which cater to the specific needs of adolescents, from exploring the concept of God and the supernatural to growing in their relationship with Jesus.
- Incorporate a mentor-style component which allowed one-to-one and group relationship to develop.
- facilitate the growth of student leaders, providing ministry opportunities for leadership skills to be practised and developed.
- utilise current technological tools appropriate to 21st century educational environments to engage digitally-savvy young people.
- be flexible with self-study options to cater to the significant time constraints students and teachers face in a busy college environment.
- synchronise with the themes of Chapel services; and
- foster connections with local churches and youth groups for students to experience participation in God’s global missional vision.
Although this program will be progressively rolled-out over coming months and years, this new vision of making discipleship and the nurture of missional leaders a priority within my specific school continues to inspire me. I encourage all Chaplains to regard themselves as a Missional Leader in their context, a leader who inspires and raises up new Missional Leaders for God’s future reign and rule.