"The key distinction is probably best expressed by the word 'empowerment'. Leaders of growing churches concentrate on empowering other Christians for ministry. They do not use lay workers as 'helpers' in attaining their own goals and fulfilling their own visions. Rather, they invert the pyramid of authority so that the leader assists Christians to attain the spiritual potential God has for them."
Most church leaders are either relationship-oriented or goal-oriented. Schwarz's studies found that the majority of growing church leaders are partnership-oriented. They view their ministry as a partnership with other Christians on all levels. They partner with lay-people to develop their gifts and develop them as leaders. They also partner with peers and mentors for encouragement, advice, and wise counsel.
Two statistics that blew me away: 85% of pastors of low-quality/declining churches were seminary grads, while only 42% of pastors of high-quality/growing churches were seminary grads. Now before anybody gets too upset, here's the flip side of that coin (the inverse, if you will): Only 12% of pastors of low-quality/declining churches say that they "regularly seek counsel from a trusted outside source", while 58 % of pastors of high-quality/growing churches state that they seek outside counsel on a regular basis.
It's obvious that the problem is not seminary itself. But for some reason, seminary grads are less likely to seek outside help. Just as we preach about the importance of spiritual accountability relationships, we also need to realize the value of professional accountability relationships. I think every pastor needs to have other pastors or organizations in their life that they bounce ideas off of and ask for ministry advice.
It's been my opinion for quite a while, that the thing that keeps most churches from growing to their potential is weak or unhealthy leadership. Unfortunately, leadership is not given a strong enough emphasis in our Bible colleges and seminaries. As Andy Stanley has said, "Leadership is a stewardship. It is temporary and you're accountable." So goes the leader - so goes the organization. One of the best things that pastors can become students of, is leadership. There are fantastic leadership resources out now. There are also some that go against Biblical principles, so buyer beware.
Two fantastic conferences are the Willow Creek Leadership Summit and the Catalyst Conference. Both of these use the wisdom of strong church leaders and strong leaders in the business and sports world in their training. Catalyst also puts out a regular leadership podcast on iTunes that is great.
My favorite leadership books are:
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni
- Visioneering - Andy Stanley
- The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership - Stephen B. Sample
- FISH! - Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, & John Christensen
What are some of your favorite leadership resources?