Leadership in the Church - how do you think we're doing?
Last week, I spoke to a group of pastors here in Athens about leadership and leadership development in the Church, based on my experience and research done as a church consultant and performance coach. Here are some of the high points that I hit in our 90-minute conversation.
Leadership In The Church Is Confused
Everything does not rise and fall on leadership
30 years ago, the Church didn't spend much time on leadership and leadership development. In some circles, talking about leadership was deemed too worldly for the spiritual work of the church.
Well, the pendulum has certainly swung the other way. Many pastors and church leaders have been persuaded by the philosophy that everything rises and falls on leadership. And that is simply not true.
All you have to do is turn in your Bible and pay attention to how often God accomplishes his work in this world in the face of weak or non-existent leadership. When we fail to acknowledge our need of God's help or lean on the power of the Holy Spirit, we place a burden on ourselves as leaders that we just cannot carry.
Leadership is not a superpower
What percentage of men and women in your church are leaders?
The most common answer I get when I ask that question to pastors is 'around 10%'. Why? Well, lots of reasons but the primary ones I hear are a lack of ownership in the church ('most people are just consumers') and an absence of leadership gifts or skills in the vast majority of the church.
So it might surprise you when I tell you that I think most of the people in your church are leaders.
Leadership is influence. A leader is anyone who takes the initiative to help at least one other person reach a common goal. If that is the definition of a leader, then every man or woman who invests time and energy into the work of your church is a leader.
Talk about transforming the culture of your church! Instead of limiting leadership to a handful of formal roles ('our leaders' on your website), embrace the reality that God has filled your church with leaders.
You might call them nursery workers or finance team members or hosts for a weekly small group. Let's agree to call them leaders.
You don't need to wait for superheroes. The leaders your church needs today are already on the ground doing ordinary work for the sake of an extraordinary God.
Leadership Is Critical
The church is suffering under poor leadership
Most churches are not well-led from the top.
In the past twelve months, I've had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of pastors about their church. One of my favorite questions to ask, particularly when someone is frustrated or discouraged, is why they chose to become a pastor in the first place.
Would you believe that almost no one tells me that they decided to work in a church because they were looking for something to lead? Most of us chose this line of work because we wanted to help people. Or we wanted to teach. Or we wanted to see more and more people become followers of Jesus.
But leading an organization - including the management of people, projects and physical resources (budgets and buildings)? Far too few of us show up understanding what to do and how to do it.
So what I encounter when churches call for help is leadership at the top that is stuck somewhere between the clouds (strategy) and dirt (execution). What results is a preoccupation with doing work that is easy (sermon prep, spending time with people) at the expense of significant work that must be done by organizational leadership.
If you are a pastor, it's a smart move to invest in your development as a leader. But it all starts with choosing to change.
Developing leaders must be a vital part of your church
The core work of any and every church is discipleship.
We say it in different and creative ways, but the heartbeat of every healthy church is an intentional effort to help people follow Jesus. And one critical aspect of that endeavor is the ongoing development of leaders throughout the church.
Think about it this way. You will not disciple people if you do not develop leaders.
If discipleship in your church impacts every aspect of life, then leadership development equips men and women (and students and children) to take the initiative in their work, their play, and their relationships. When you cultivate the character of a leader in someone's life, it doesn't just show up at church. When you invest in the growth of someone's knowledge or skill set, that makes a difference in the world around them.
Leadership development can't be pushed off as optional or something that would be great if your church wasn't so busy already. What you need is a plan and a process that is simple to understand and live out.
Do The Next Right Thing
If you feel stuck in your personal development as a leader, or if you're tired of guessing how to develop other leaders in your church, I'd love to help you.
Take a minute or two to answer a couple of questions(select Consultation with Matt Adair), and if I think I can help you, we'll schedule a 30-minute call.
On that call, I'll help you develop a plan to get where you want to go. There's not a sales pitch; I'm not trying to sell you anything - in fact, if I waste a minute of your time, I'll write you a check for $1,000.
I love the Church, and I want to use my experience to help you. There's no risk here for you. The only investment you have to make is a couple of minutes to answer 4-5 questions.
What if your breakthrough was just a phone call away?