“Have you seen my church? I have lost them, and I am their leader.”
One of the ways we know where the church is and get it to go the way it should go, is by having good leaders and staying close to them.
And by being their leader.
Sometimes we may say that this is not what we signed up for — we came to this calling for the love of our Lord, His Word, His people, and getting the three together.
But to do that well we must not only lead well but help to select and lead good leaders for the church, in all its facets of ministry. How to do that is our subject for the month.
We define leaders here as the one main board (we hope there is only one) and the lead volunteers or ministry managers. We have talked about staff leaders in several other Pastorpedia issues.
We keep want to be leading better and we know you do too. Perhaps what helps us will also be strong for you.
Knute, Jeff, and Jim
Download the PDF
Where do your best leaders come from? Especially board members and ministry managers?
- People who are already involved and have bought into the work of the ministry.
- “Life groups”, where they have been pastoring, leading, and serving people already.
- Individuals who are either serving faithfully or beginning to lead in service projects around the ministry of the church.
- Any aspect of the church in which service/volunteerism is required on a regular basis is a place to begin to scout for new leaders. The main characteristic I am looking for is their willingness to serve our Lord faithfully and with joy. We have a saying at Grace, “if servanthood is beneath you, leadership is above you.”
- Men’s Bible study. Once a week I invite any man to attend a Bible study I lead. We study the Scripture word for word, converse openly about things on our minds, and share/talk about things unique to men. This group has been a reservoir for leadership in our church. It has been a place for me to connect with the men of the church and for the men to connect with each other. They then have the opportunity to buy into God’s calling on their lives as well as the greater vision of Grace Church.
- When I am looking for board members or leaders that manage other leaders, I am looking at a couple of things:
- Is there longevity? People need to be serving for a few years before you know them well enough and they are trusted to be given high-end leadership responsibilities.
- The depth of their relationships with the people around them. When I see depth of relationships and there is an easy connection with me, when I trust them and they trust me as well, then they will be elevated to higher-end leadership.
- They are already serving somewhere in ministry opportunities here at our church.
- People already follow them and seek them out.
- They have servant’s hearts.
- I personally have a list of qualities I am checking when I notice men for leadership. One simple one is this: do they recognize, acknowledge, or get down on a knee for children instead of being put off by them.
- We have leadership training year round and this enables us to pull men from our Fight Club ministry for men.
- They come from within and are very familiar with the DNA of our church.
- They must have evangelistic hearts and are already leading their families well.
- When a leader is not present in the room they take the lead. We want men who lead well.
- From our eyes. We need to be looking all the time, and at all informal meetings. I coach pastors to be at open meetings and to host an open-to-all breakfast each week, so they can meet potential leaders, and draw them into other groups.
- From close (usually, when pastoring) discipleship- accountability groups of myself or others on the staff leadership team. That was the strategy for me, and is what I coach. Build into them with TLC (time, love, and content of the scripture that meets the heart). That seems so much stronger than, “I nominate Charley for the board… “
- From strong service as teachers, leaders, or ministry managers in our church, as long as they are dealing with oversight issues and not just the minutiae of details in an accountant – like approach. And here I am talking about the finding members for the one oversight board of the church. The Mountains are needed on the financial committee.
- From young adult groups. They are not just the “leaders of the future,” or in the future the church will be old.
- They come from God, as do all good gifts.
- Definitely not from service at another church. The times I have jumped at the volunteering of a new transfer have often been painful soon after that.
- Not just from a “Leadership Class” that was called. These classes often get people who are very committed to Christ and loyal to the church, but not always good at oversight and big picture.
What is the balance between managing them and freeing them?
- Freedom is tied to buy in. The more deeply they are bought in and believe in the vision and ministry of the church, the more they are making Christ and His church the focal point of their lives, then the more freedom they get.
- They should have the ability to do whatever it is they are tasked to lead.
- We look at what Larry Osborne calls “stickiness”, the idea that other people want to serve with them or lead with them as well. You can only be a leader if someone is willing to follow. Are there others around these people, who want to be with them and want to be a part of the ministries they are in charge of?
- Check in with them and encourage them.
- Allow them to fail.
- Allow them do it eighty percent as well as you can!
- Debrief and point out the good and how they might improve.
- Model how you want to see them lead so they can learn from you.
- It is hard, especially because most of us eat and sleep church, and other local leaders do not.
- Certainly mood and results must be let or managed; one person and one team must envision for the church. “Without a vision, the people perish,” but with a bunch of visions there is division. Look at Washington.
- Then methods, if not contrary to the values and good systems of the church, must be up to each person. No one who is capable of strong ministry wants to be a puppet. This is a tricky dance that we should get better at as we practice.
- As the leader leads and manages staff and senior volunteers, he learns what each person really needs in terms of goals and ideas. Every coach of a baseball or sports team knows that each athlete is motivated in different ways. This is applicable in the church.
- Other leaders should always know the boundaries. What is the field they are playing in? This is true of staff and volunteers also.
- Staff especially will know when they are to check with the senior leadership. I like a category on their written reports, “Possible controversy “; and another, “Items I should check with you.”
- Senior pastors should “renew the vision” every six weeks or so from the pulpit – even if within a few minutes of the service or sermon. That is a leadership principle but is also freeing for the leaders who are listening. They are not ignorant of the main vision of the church.
- You manage or makes sure someone is managing in a strong way when there is trouble. It does not get better left untouched. “Work out your own salvation (church health) with fear and trembling…”
How do you thank them?
- We tend to thank them relationally. Say thank you a lot and write thank you notes as well.
- The higher the quality of leader, the less they are looking for those kinds of things. We need to say thank you to everybody, but rarely are high quality leaders looking for a certificate or a coffee mug.
- Include them in the success of the organization.
- When I talk about an event, I will be sure to celebrate the leaders who helped make that happen along the way. I thank them by never taking credit for their work, but being sure to give it generously back to them.
- I also thank them by saying “we” a lot. We are doing this together, not that someone did this for me or that I accomplished it on my own.
- Include them in the close circle of leadership. We call this giving them prior and privileged information, so they are part of the decision-making process, not merely people who execute our to-do list.
- In person, let them see you eye to eye.
- Acknowledge and praise them before others.
- Make mention of their good deeds on social media.
- A small gift.
- If a staff member, pay them well.
- It is not a praise unless you speak it, and never assume one time is enough. Encourage and thank them regularly.
- A text or handwritten note goes a long way too.
- Eye to eye. Every chance we get!
- With handwritten notes. I urge every pastor to write three or four every Monday!
- As part of every email to them, or text message, or meeting. No question.
- Up front, in the services. In the smaller church this probably means naming names, but in a larger setting with over 200 people there is still true appreciation, but usually for a group of servants in the church. Except at death or in extraordinary circumstances.
- The mood of gratitude can and should show all the time. People know if we love and appreciate them.
- Not the answer to this specific question, but we also thank God for them regularly in our prayers. It is a high privilege to have good leaders in the church.
- Thank you!
What is a good size for the church board?
- In my experience, five to eight members is a good working team; beyond that there are too many opinions to really accomplish anything.
- We try to keep one more working elder than we have paid pastors.
- Smaller is better than bigger.
- Make sure the right people are around the table too.
- For sure, more than two or three, sort of an “Aw shucks” arrangement!
- At least five plus the pastor, who should be the only voting member from the staff. Eight to ten people in a room can work well, but when there are more than 8, hard detailed work should be done on smaller teams — a finance team, vision team, or building allocations for instance.
- People who study this write about the “rule of eight”. When there are more than eight in a room only three or four do all the talking anyway. And it is hard then to make decisions. I served with twelve on the board at The Chapel for twenty-six years, and it worked great because most of the hard discussions and detailed considerations were first recommended by the three teams of four each.
Pastorpedia is a resource provided to you by CE National, a church effectiveness ministry. Please contact us at email@example.com or 574.267.6622 if we may be of any help to you or your ministry!
Jeff Bogue, of Grace Church, in several locations in the Bath-Norton-Medina areas of Ohio; Jim Brown, of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana, a church known for its strong growth, family and men’s ministries, and community response teams; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years. Pastorpedia is brought to you by CE National. Visit cenational.org/pastorpedia for more issues and to read the bios of our contributors.