In churches of all sizes it is important for leaders to know and understand their leadership role. This includes the expectations, intended outcomes, authority, and responsibility each role entails. Without these critical details, leaders are set up to fail or at least not succeed to the degree possible. However, in the life of the church we often place people in leadership roles without any training, job description, or setting clear expectations, stating intended outcomes, identifying their authority, and defining their responsibility. Leaders are not set up for effective leadership, positive ministry outcomes, or leadership growth.
Two of my favorite words when it comes to leadership are intentional and strategic. While some church leaders are sometimes taken back by using what they view as ”corporate” language, most leaders understand the importance of leading strategically and intentionally regardless of the setting or context. For me, strategic and intentional leadership is helping leaders how to best invest their time, gifts, passions, and experience and leveraging the church’s resources in the best way possible to grow disciples and reach new disciples. Or as Hinkins explains, intentionality is identifying the “guiding light”
“Choose your intention carefully and then practice holding your consciousness to it,
so it becomes the guiding light in your life.”
Roger Delano Hinkins
In our new book, Mission Possible for the Small Church: Simplifying Leadership, Structure, and Ministries in Small Churches, co-author Blake Bradford and I explore intentional and strategic leadership approaches for small church leaders. One common struggle small churches (and larger churches, too) experience is (unintentionally) driving in the wrong leadership lanes. Boards/councils veer into the management lane rather than staying in their governance lane. This leaves the governance lane abandoned with no one performing the critical role of mission accountability, monitoring contextual competence viability, nor completing the crucial generative or strategic work. With the best of intentions, the pastor also commonly merges into the management lane (often without a turn signal) and attempts to manage most everything rather than developing and empowering laity leaders to manage the ministries. Those who are leading ministry areas often “do” (and/or are expected to do) the ministry rather than identifying, recruiting, equipping, and deploying disciples to “live out their discipleship through “doing” ministry. As a result, too many people in the congregation are tied up in managing the church leaving very few disciples to actually carry out the ministries – the most important “lane” in the church.
The church has placed too much emphasis and focus on being a committee member having lost sight of the true intentions of serving on a committee (growing disciples, serving disciples, making new disciples). In other words, it’s become more about the tradition and method of getting the task completed (getting names on required reports to submit to judicatory leaders and getting everyone “involved” ) and less about the church’s true purpose of discipleship and Kingdom impact. Without being intentional and strategic, the end result becomes the successful completion of the nominations report instead of growing people in their Christ-likeness.
When a church becomes strategic and intentional in their identifying, recruiting, equipping, and deploying disciples using their gifts, passions, and strengths to best align with the mission, vision, core values, and goals of the church, the church will be more vital. Furthermore, when leaders know which lane their giftedness best aligns with and how to stay in their leadership lane, the church will flourish resulting in incredible Kingdom impact for the surrounding community.
Are leaders in your church fully equipped and deployed for ministry? Do your leaders clearly understand their role, authority, and responsibility? Do leaders know the four lanes of accountable leadership and which lane their role is intended to drive in? Do your church leaders recognize the danger of veering into others’ lane?
If your small church is looking to eliminate lane confusion in church leadership so your ministries can have a deeper community impact, gather a small team to study Mission Possible for the Small Church. Your team will find applicable small church resources, suggestions, practical tips, and next steps. Each chapter includes team questions to help your leaders process the information in the chapter, apply it to your context, and make decisions towards faithful next steps for your church to be more missionally focused.
If you are interested in a Mission Possible for the Small Church workshop or fall cohort experience, let us know here.