Saturday, March 04, 2006

Church Leaders Struggle with Strategy

(From FotF's Pastor's Weekly Briefing)

Nine out of every 10 senior pastors of Protestant churches consider themselves to be effective leaders. However, findings from new research by the Barna group show that few senior pastors believe they are effective in strategic leadership.

Strategic leadera are often mistakenly perceived to be managers because they tend to pay attention to detail, desire for efficiency and insist upon careful organization — all marks of a manager. The attributes often criticized about them include their critical manner (perfectionism), demanding nature (need for truth and integrity), and need to plan everything (analytical drive). They are also viewed to be impersonal.

The strategic leader's and the senior pastor's approaches to leadership are very different. Pastors are directing leaders who major in motivation empowerment, resource acquisition and vision casting. When a directing and strategic leader work together and share a vision, it makes for the best situation.

Signs that a church is lacking in strategic leadership are that it tends to remain numerically small (100 or fewer), are behind the curve in adopting new approaches to ministry and fail to embrace new technological tools for ministry. These churches also seem to be in a constant state of crisis due to failure to anticipate foreseeable problems.

Barna states, "The contribution of the strategic leader is profound. They bring balance, wisdom and well-conceived plans to the process. On their own, strategic leaders are ineffective. But when they are a valued member of a dynamic team, they enhance the leadership of their colleagues and the impact of their organization."

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One Salient Oversight said...

You've actually posted about an issue that I think has infested the American church and harmed it considerably - the "leadership cult", that somehow Christian pastors need to be "strategic leaders" and "CEOs" and "Visionaries".

I believe in Sola Scriptura - the idea that the Bible and the Bible alone is sufficient for "thoroughly equipping" the life of a Christian (2 Tim 3.16-17). Thus the Bible contains all that is necessary for us to determine what sort of qualities we need in leadership.

What emerges from this attitude (Sola Scriptura) is that the qualities of pastoral leadership are found specifically in Titus 1.5-9 and 1 Timothy 3.1-7. What you see there are some very important things:

* Sound doctrine
* The ability to teach
* A godly character

The third one encompasses things like being above reproach, not a drunk, not quarrelsome, not arrogant and so on.

And as far as I am concerned, those three characteristics are the ONLY things a pastor needs. If he is talented in some areas, like music or in strategic thinking, then that's fine. But if he is not talented in some areas, like organisational skills, then that does not disqualify him as a pastor - in fact, the church he pastors should try to understand and accept his weaknesses, and try to plug those "gaps" themselves.

mrclm said...

I don't know that I would specifically disagree with you OSO. Part of being a good leader is knowing your limitations and mitigating them. In the case of the church just avoiding your weakness is decidedly NOT God honoring, so surrounding yourself with others who are strong in that area is critical. I'm not particularly gifted in pastoral care types of things, so I know that while I can accomplish what needs to be done, there are others for who this comes naturally and who will do a far greater job at this portion of leading a church. I will gladly partner with them, allowing them to do their portion in God honoring ways, and I will do my part. This is why God has gifted as God has chosen, we don't pick which gifts we are blessed with. We must work together as a body to fulfill the God honoring/glorifying redemptive potential of the Church. Doing less is not honoring the bride of Christ.

Big Chris

One Salient Oversight said...