There is no doubt the pandemic changed everything including churches as I wrote about specifically in the book, Being the Church in the Post-Pandemic World: Game Changers for the Post-Pandemic Church. How people engage in the life of the church as attenders, volunteers, and leadership is no exception.
Among other things, the years 2021 and 2022 will go down in history as being known as the Great Resignation or the Great Reshuffle when more than 45 million employees left their jobs each year. These employees changed companies, changed professions, left the workforce, or moved from the for-profit sector to the nonprofit sector. People report seeking better pay and/or benefits, more opportunity for advancement, a healthier work environment or office culture, more meaningful work, more flexibility, and childcare issues.
Working with churches and leaders across the country, one consistent message heard is how frustrating it can be to find people who are willing to step into church leadership. Many churches are having to rebuild committees and teams post-COVID, but the leaders are reluctant to commit. Here are some reasons I believe this is the case:
- The pandemic gave people the chance to pause, reflect, and prioritize. They no longer want to invest their time and energy in places or activities where they don’t see a difference or an impact being made on someone or something.
- The pandemic revealed much more efficient ways to get things done. People know there is no need to be involved in outdated systems and structures when more efficient and effective methods are available.
- They and the world moved on without all those church committee meetings for months. This causes pause to wonder if all those meetings are needed and what they were really accomplishing.
- There is a definite shift in how people want to spend their time and what they value.
- Spending time with family, rest, and mental health and well-being are of high value.
- Do less to have more impact.
- Simplify all the church does.
- Discern and declare a very specific, succinct, distinct, and clear vision for how your church is being called to live out the mission in the next year or two.
Once these shifts are made, leaders will be much more likely to step up and commit. This is much more of the kind of environment they desire to serve in and will be able to clearly see how an impact is possible.
“Growing other leaders from the ranks isn’t just the duty of the leader, it’s an obligation.”
Next, begin practicing accountable leadership at all levels. Accountable leadership keeps leaders on track, in their respective lanes, aligns resources, and helps keep leaders’ eyes on the purpose of the organization. To ultimately grow and empower leaders, embrace the accountable leadership model through these three simple steps:
- Responsibility. Empower leaders to make decisions, lead ministries, complete tasks, and perform duties within clearly identified healthy boundaries.
- Authority. Give leaders the power to provide direction or make decisions within their area of ministry.
- Accountability. Invite leaders to commit to their areas of responsibility and authority and be held amenable. Check in on their progress. Offer constructive feedback and consequences.
While the steps are simple, they are not easy. Accountable leadership is not something most churches have commonly practiced. It will take some time, course correction, patience, consistency, and maybe even some outside coaching to fully adopt this new form and culture of leadership. However, churches who adopt this accountable leadership find it to be life-giving, effective, efficient, empowering, and much more missionally focused. For a video demo of practicing accountable leadership at the board level, click here.