proactive leader

How is your church setting its leaders up for success? As a leader, do you ever feel like you are more reactive than proactive? What systems are in place to ensure important tasks are not forgotten? What type of annual training is conducted for incoming leaders each year?

While all these questions may sound daunting, once the systems are in place the organization will run much smoother and way more efficiently and effectively. Leaders will be better equipped to lead proactively rather than reactively. This method of leadership is not only less stressful, but it is also more effective and models healthier leadership practices.

Here is one method to use for setting up checklists. Start by making a checklist of the routine tasks and events that occur on a regular basis. Note their frequency (monthly, quarterly, annually), the position responsible for completing the task or coordinating the event (pastor, council chair, administrative assistant), due date, and note the month the task or event should first be on the agenda for the committee tasked with the responsibility or should become a focus on the to do list of the employee responsible. Next, create a quick checklist for each area of responsibility, sorted by focus date. These checklists will be used by the chairs each month for agenda planning, placed on employees calendars as recurring events, and also used for staff evaluations. For paid positions, include this information in the job description with detailed procedures. For leadership positions, include this information along with detailed procedures in the training manual. 

In our book, Mission Possible: A Simple for Missional Effectiveness, we offered this example for an Annual Rhythm Reference Chart for the Leadership Board. You’ll find a detailed explanation of each in the book.  Of course, each Leadership Board would need to tweak the checklist for their given context.

Checklist for Planning your Leadership Rhythm

  • Establish your leadership rhythm and tweak it as necessary.
  • Always plan at least one season ahead. (Bonus points for planning a year ahead!)
  • Conduct at least one strategic ministry planning leadership retreat annually.
  • Consider a spiritual retreat and times for the leadership board to serve together.
  • Evaluate mission, vision and progress on goals monthly.

Annual Rhythm Reference Chart for the Leadership Board




Elect “trustee” chair, covenant, roles/responsibilities, commissioning service for in-coming leadership board and appreciation for out-going members during worship


Easter plans, statistical trends, demographic review


Town Hall meeting(s) with feedback


Deep financial dive, stewardship campaign planning, serve together


Ensure policies, procedures, and guiding principles are up to date


Deep dive into goals to identify any needed shifts


Possible new pastor arrival, Town Hall with goal updates


Final retreat preparations, staff evaluations completed by pastor, feedback from cottage meetings if a new pastor has been appointed


Strategic ministry planning retreat conducted, nominations working on discerning new leadership for upcoming year


Clergy evaluation, staff retreat, staff budget requests, clergy appreciation


Finalize budget, charge conference, new leader training


State of the church Town Hall, clergy consultation

Don’t be overwhelmed by the scope of work ahead. Take one area at a time and work on checklists and procedures.  Before you know it, every area will be completed. The investment upfront will pay dividends for years to come!