Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Is a single leader essential to church life?

I ask this question in light of a posting by Bill Easum's comments about shared leadership. He suggests that there is no clear example of shared leadership working. There has to be someone, who rises to the top, and provides the vision and the guidance, or stagnation/failure are sure to occur.

So, I wonder, what does this mean for us, as church? I believe that ministry is something shared by all -- that we are all gifted and called to ministry. But is that the same thing as leadership.

I know that in Disciples circles, there has always been a certain anti-clericalism, that makes sure that pastors don't get too big for their britches. We see ourselves as congregationally governed, but to what extent can a congregation move forward without someone setting the tone?

I must admit that in my "old age" I've become more assertive in leadership -- not to lord it over others, but recognizing that the ship needs a pilot. I served one congregation where there was a sentiment among some in the church that their job was to come up with work for the pastor, micro-manage that work, and sit back and see if the pastor could save their church. I will confess that I failed at that -- and that church continues to struggle to this day. They liked being on boards and committees -- to supervise staff.

I realize that Jesus called us to servanthood, but what does that mean?

Easum suggests that the job of the leader is to empower the congregation for ministry, and offers 5 ways in which a leader might do this.

1. Set out a clearly defined mission.

2. Set out clearly defined, realistic, stretch goals.

3. Discuss how to reach those goals.

4. Provide the resources and coaching to reach those goals.

5. Continual follow-up on how the mission and goals are progressing.

6. Hold people accountable to the goals.

7. Reward those who get it and make it happen (this is more of a staff issue)


So, what do you think?


  • Thanks to Russ White for bringing this to my attention.

4 comments:

John said...

The list of seven suggested aspects of leadership is incomplete, perhaps intentionally so. The one aspect which comes to mind for me is inspirational in nature. The leader must inspire those being led. That inspiration comes from instilling trust in the leader's competence and in the leader's commitment. Inspiration includes modeling: this is how we act, and by behaving in this way as an organization, we will succeed as an organization. The leader sets the tone, those being led take their que from the leader.

I am sure there are other important aspects of leadership which the list overlooked, but I think "inspiration" is the most important.

John

Simon Cozens said...

He suggests that there is no clear example of shared leadership working. There has to be someone, who rises to the top, and provides the vision and the guidance, or stagnation/failure are sure to occur.


Who's the leader of Protestantism?

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Simon,

While I think Easum has congregational governance in mind, and so I don't know how he would answer that question, one could say that Protestantism has had a paper pope, which explains all our divisions!

Anonymous said...

Is the church life essential to the single leader? David Mc