- Everyone is clear about the purpose and vision of the team
- The group is collectively committed to implementing their decisions
- Each person knows their role, their own strengths and weakness on the team and is willing to contribute
- People develop and maintain mutual trust with each other
- There is open honest communication
- There are healthy decision making and conflict resolution processes, people know they can share and influence the thinking of the group
- People are prepared to be creative, to take risks and feel comfortable doing so
- The team has a corporate spirituality – they pray and listen to God together
- The leader has good people facilitation and group skills
- The team is a supportive community – not enmeshed but aware of and caring of members own personal journeys
In an insightful article in Congregations magazine (Alban Institute), one my favourite authors on governance, Dan Hotchkiss, outlines the differences between operational teams who work to achieve something together and effective governing committees whose work is thinking, wrestling with values, priorities and principles to make a collective wise recommendations on action. We need great groups who know how do to this work.
A great group is clear on its purpose. A great group is clear on its process and this process is always collective. The reason we need groups is to enable deeper reflection, questioning, listening and counsel so that we make better decisions than could be made by one person alone. A great group is clear on its communication.
“.. great committees set the table for important conversations. Great committees lead, not by getting their way, but by clarifying issues, gathering data, and posing questions that enable the board and the entire community to make its most important choices.”
“Big decisions require great committees, committees brave enough to require others—board, staff, congregation—to reflect more deeply and intelligently before making the decisions that matter in the long run.” Dan Hotchkiss
I have been greatly helped in leadership training and consultancy work by the insights of Family Systems Theory. Have a look at this great short video by Jonathan Camp on Leadership as Differentiation from a System’s Theory perspective.
This article is reposted from http://thomrainer.com/2013/02/05/10-reflections-on-a-decade-of-church-consulting/
February 5, 2013
By Chuck Lawless
I love the local church. It’s God’s church, despite its flaws. For ten years, I’ve had the privilege of consulting with churches seeking to grow. Here are my reflections of those years – one reflection for each year.
If you’re a pastor in a struggling church, be sure to read to the end. I think you’ll find hope there.
- Churches often wait too long to address decline. Some churches don’t do regular checkups, and thus they have no means of knowing they’re sick. Others recognize the symptoms but choose to ignore them. By the time they admit decline, the pattern is so entrenched that reversing the trend is not easy.
- Statistics really are helpful. I realize that numbers can become an idol—and that we must fight against—but numbers do tell us something. Most often, they tell us to ask more “why” questions. Why has the church declined in attendance for five years? Why did the church reach 50 people last year, but attendance grew by only fifteen? Why has worship attendance in the second service plateaued?
- Prayer in unhealthy churches is reactive rather than proactive. A problem develops, and then the church members pray. A marriage struggles, and then they pray. A young person wanders, and then the church prays. Prayer in an unhealthy congregation is often a response of desperation rather than a marker of the DNA of the church.
- Churches often settle for numerical growth rather than life transformation. Churches may want to grow, but they seldom evaluate the source of the growth. If the church increases in number at all—even if the growth comes only by believers transferring membership from another local church—the church is satisfied. Few churches evaluate how many non-believers are converted through their ministry.
- Churches do not know their community. As part of our consultation we would do a demographic study of a church’s ministry area and then ask the leaders to describe their community prior to their seeing the study. Frankly, I’m amazed by how many church leaders were not aware of the demographics of their ministry field. They often lived among a people they do not know.
- Most churches aren’t ready for conversion growth if God were to send it. The biblical call to make disciples demands a discipleship strategy (Matt. 28:18-20), but few churches have one. They do not have the “nursery” of discipleship ready for baby Christians. Seemingly, they assume new believers will grow simply by showing up each week.
- Sometimes the most obvious suggestions seem the most revolutionary. Church leaders struggling to overcome decline are so close to the situation they often miss the most obvious corrections. Preach the Word with power and enthusiasm. Train members to do evangelism. Minister in the community. Pray for neighbors and co-workers. Develop a mentoring discipleship program. Do worship well. Going back to the basics is often a first step toward renewed church health.
- The leader in the pulpit matters. Never have I seen a church reverse a decline when led by a pastor uncommitted to the hard work of turning around a congregation. If he has already mentally and emotionally “checked out,” he won’t fool the church for long. On the other hand, a broken pastor who longs and prays for God to move mightily can see a congregation change.
- In most churches, somebody wants the congregation to make an eternal difference.I’ve never seen a church so unhealthy that nobody was seeking God and His power. The good news here is that just a few people can ignite a renewal fire in a local church. Somebody sees in faith what God might do, and he/she can be a significant support for the pastor.
- God is still growing His church. I’ve worked with churches that, to be frank, I thought would never grow. Churches so divided that their communities know them as a combat zone seldom give you hope for Great Commission growth. Nevertheless, I’ve seen God work miracles by restoring unity, strengthening and refocusing leaders, and sending members into the community to share the gospel.
Only God can turn around a church. He has in the past, and He may well do so in your church today.
The task of conducting a thoughtful and well facilitated review of a minister is often one tinged with anxiety not only for the minister and his/her spouse but also for the reviewers and the congregation. This is usually due to the many stories doing the rounds of poor processes, ministers and congregations getting badly hurt, issues not being dealt with and pastors resigning or being dismissed rather than being empowered to grow in leadership. Over the years, John Mark Ministries has worked with churches as they have reviewed their pastors and out of this experience has developed some tools and resources to assist.
The nature and purpose of pastoral reviews
Reviews of leaders are a natural and normal part of all organisations, the church included. Healthy leaders will have been doing this personally as an ongoing part of their own development. From the congregation’s point of view, these reviews should be undertaken with careful thought and planning.
- The purpose is personal and leadership insight and growth
Leadership is primarily about relationships. People connect to and work with a pastoral leader in the context of Christian community for the purposes of seeing God’s kingdom extended. A pastor needs to be affirmed in what is going well and to gain insight into how this can be further developed. Things that aren’t going well need to be carefully diagnosed, understood, and a process for addressing them put in place. A review should not be allowed to gather several years worth of minor issues which have caused discontent but never been addressed and bundle them into a mass capable of significant damage. Reviews are primarily formative not summative.
- Reviews should be conducted by a small group with some expertise and experience
Conducting a thoughtful review requires time, expertise in human relations and some knowledge of the pastor and the church community. It is important for the church council to appoint members to this group with attention to the skills, maturity and wisdom that will be required to collect and process all the information that makes up the review and to make appropriate and constructive recommendations as a result. If needed get a facilitator or coach from outside the congregation to work with the review group.
- The best reviews are part of a long term process
The most effective reviews arise out of a regular process of consultation with a pastor, the pastor’s spouse and to a lesser degree the congregation or parts of it. Many churches establish a Review Committee or working group which is a standing committee for the tenure of the pastor. This group meets every three – six months with the pastor and gathers feedback periodically from the congregation. They report to the church board every 6 – 12 months. This process allows the review of a minister to remain formative and positive. Reviews that only occur every three to five years run a risk of being the gravitational point for all kinds of negatives which have built up over years.
- The best pastoral reviews also include a review of the congregational and lay leadership
As noted above, leadership is a relationship. Pastors are not the only factor in the life and health of the church community. The church itself as a community of people needs to be reviewed for health, and also the lay leadership or governing group need to be reviewed for how they contribute to the direction and health of the church. When the pastor is going to be reviewed, it may also be wise to conduct a review of the church as a whole and also the church governing group or council.
I have been discussing elements of church governance with a number of leaders recently. Here is a presentation I commonly use.
By Gil Rendle from Alban Weekly Sept 2012
Efforts to lead change are often defeated or sabotaged, not by open and honest disagreement, but by inappropriate, unhelpful, or indirect behaviours. Board members who do not say what they think while sitting at the board table but who hold their opinions only to express them freely in the parking lot after the meeting sabotage what can be done to reach agreement. Leaders who understand their role as a responsibility to fight for their own personal preferences or for the preferences of a subgroup in the congregation force discernment of the future into a win/lose proposition. Leaders who openly share their disagreement with board decisions only after the decision has been made undermine any effective leadership toward change. Continue reading
Check out the short video clip of Marshall Ganz sent to me by a friend. He shares the importance of leaders being able to articulate the story of ‘self’ and their calling to serve, the story of ‘us’ and the call to be and do something together, and the story of ‘now’, the challenge we face and what we are going to do. A useful framework to think about leadership and story.
Have a look at this article from the Alban weekly – work life balance for clergy. http://www.alban.org/conversation.aspx?q=printme&id=9989