The Missional Leader

In 2002, I was exposed to something called Chaos Theory.  It is also called Complex Adaptive Systems Theory, and is born out of Physics (quantum mechanics, etc.).  It is the world of the physics of Einstein.

It turns out that this systems theory is evident in a lot of our world.  From the stock market to organizational change, CAS is prevelant in the fabric and DNA of our world.  It is the science of post-modernity, of dramatic change.

In 2002, I was able to compare and contrast this systems theory with Diffusions of Innovations.  DoI is a social theory best expressed by Everett M. Rogers in his book Diffusion of Innovations.  It was a facinating exercise that led me deeper into research on Chaos Theory, a journey that I am still on.  In the midst of this, I decided to put together a paper, a small book, that I called Chaos in the Church, and I self-published it through  (I greatly recommend this site to you if you want to do something like this.)

The gist of the book was a theoretical look at how to think about church structure and culture through Chaos Theory and provide a theoretical framework for moving into that direction.

Why bring all that up?  Well, first to pimp the paper (though it needs some grammatical work – I should have let my wife mark it up before I actually published it) which I will provide you in a PDF if you want to print it out as it is only 38 pages.  Just contact me and I’ll git-r-done to the first 15 of you.

However, even more so, to recommend Alan Roxburgh’s new book, “The Missional Leader“, which is the application of Chaos Theory, or Complex Adaptive Systems, into the structural and cultural aspects of the church.  It is the practical to my theoretical.  Thanks Steve McCoy for talking about Roxburgh’s book, that’s the reason I bought it last week.

I can’t put it down, I can’t wait to tweak what we’ve done here in Delaware and can’t pray soon enough through some of what he discusses.  I don’t agree with everything so far, but there is some really good stuff here.  Get it and read it.  I’ll have more of my thoughts on it after I finish reading it.

David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

He has also pastored 3 churches and loves to think about, write about and podcast about scripture, theology, and leadership.

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  • Sounds veeeery interesting and something we could really use. When you get around to it, please mail the pdf copy to:

    J. Guy Muse
    Casilla 09-06-2388
    Guayaquil, Ecuador
    South America


  • I just finished reading your “Chaos in the Church” article that you so kindly sent me. I found it to be quite helpful with some of the leadership issues we are facing in our church planting team here in Ecuador. It confirmed in many ways some of my own doubts about decisions and leadership style I have been trying to implement.

    I particularly found helpful the simple difference between “data” and “information”. It would take too long to explain here, but on the mission field we are much too prone to being dealt with on a “data level” rather than an “information level” that would greatly enhance our communication. So much of the confusion being blogged about in the SBC blogosphere these days is because we are fed data rather than information! I also found the part about “pushing the donkey” helpful as well (one of my weak areas!)

  • Guy,

    Thanks for the good words. I’ve found this extremely helpful in my own leadership and even the simple issue of the impact of one new person in our church. It’s a facinating study.

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