- 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.
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
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
Reposted from the Jesus Creed – Guest post by Brian Harris VOSE
If you have ever ruled yourself out as a leader because you aren’t a dynamic, upfront person, you might find Badaracco’s Leading Quietly liberating. Badaracco has made a study of quiet leadership where he argues that the leadership qualities that result in long term success don’t revolve around charisma, but are more directly related to perseverance, tenacity and other centeredness, as well as a willingness to nudge rather than gallop ahead, and to arrive at appropriate compromises. He suggests that instead of finding brilliant ways to solve problems, quiet leaders look for ways to live with problems, and are willing to aim at what is reasonably attainable rather than only at what is ideal. They model restraint, modesty and flexibility.
Good governance begins with clear differentiated roles for the pastoral staff and for the church board. It understands the different bases of authority within a church and allows these to create structures and systems which serve the church and community. Good governance provides for a collaborative partnership between lay and professional leaders to discern direction and to do ministry together. Church boards need to be able to to delegate effectively, to review ministries and leaders with care, to require sound stewardship, and to reflect continually on mission and purpose.
Five roles of governing elders / church board members.
- The church board articulates the church’s vision, mission, values and distinctives both as a long term direction but also within shorter term goals for specific periods of time. This is enabled by listening to God together, listening to the congregation, listening to ministry leaders, listening to each other. Elders / board members constantly reflect on the questions: Who are we as God’s people in this place? What is God calling us to do for his kingdom? Who is God calling us to reach with the good news?
- On the basis of the church vision, the governing elders appoint, empower, support and review the leadership of the church. The senior pastor in particular needs a clear basis of appointment and formative review process. There needs to be clear agreed delegation of authority to the staff to lead. Church boards are responsible to ensure there are appropriate processes of support in place – such as mentoring, expectations around self-care and professional formation. The senior pastor is accountable to the governing elders collectively – a carefully designed process for protecting the integrity of the pastor should be in place.
- The church eldership board discerns with the ministry leadership the direction and planning for the ministries of the church. This is a cooperative venture. Input into and endorsement of the drafted plan is usually part of governance responsibility, although the leadership usually draft and ultimately action the plan with the active support of the governing board. The governing board reflect on, evaluate and review the outcomes. They should be the key supporters of the ministries of the church.
- The church board oversees the application of the church’s resources to its vision and mission. This includes the mobilisation of individuals, their gifts and resources made available to God’s kingdom work. It includes overall financial stewardship and giving (not usually book-keeping). It includes stewardship of people (staff and pastoral care policies) and keeping church order and structure effective.
- The church board reviews its own functioning, maintaining health as a governing group. It is committed to training and equipping present and future members (usually through retreats and training times). It should keep individuals to terms of appointment and maintain its own internal discipline. Reviewing governance processes include; documenting the Church’s Governance policy, teaching clearly about the role of governing elders, having accessible public information, offering training for those qualified and willing to serve in this position (every 2 yrs), making selection / affirmation a process of spiritual discernment, having clear terms with sabbatical breaks, forming a team culture and covenant within the group, making congregational communication / consultation a priority.
Qualifications to serve as a governing elders:
- A recognised personal ministry of care, teaching (not necessarily public), discipline and prayer within the church
- Ability and willingness to serve in an communal spiritual oversight role
- Capacity to oversee the church as a whole – particularly in larger churches this capacity is to think systemically
- A person of faith and prayer (Spiritual maturity)
- A person able in humility to listen to God / congregation (Spiritual maturity)
- A person of wisdom, able to reflect and discern (Relational and personal maturity)