Some churches stay in a perpetual cycle of growing and declining. The church peaks, then dips, only to peak again. It’s possible for a church to stay in this cycle for decades.
Symbols are powerful. They add a richness to routine. They inspire hope. Symbols arouse emotions more quickly than reasoning. Symbols elevate the “why” above the “what.”
In the 1970s, one researcher noted: “There are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept.” According to these definitions, leadership is influence, power, mobilization, motivation, processes, inspiration, among many others.
The same could be said of the church: “There are almost as many different ways of leading the church as there are persons who have attempted it.”
I recently had coffee with a young(er) minister. He asked a great question: What can I do right now? The young minister (he’s around 20) wanted to know how he could lead better. Starting today. He caught me a bit off guard. After all, leadership is learned and refined over time. Pastors spend years growing. He knew that, but he also wanted to know what could be done immediately.
I’m not that far removed from being a “young” pastor (at 35, many might still categorize me in this way), but I have learned — some things the hard way — from pastoring for 10 years. There are a few practices young ministers can do right now that will help them grow immediately. Here are three leadership practices I shared with him.
Both commentary and leadership are needed. Sometimes they overlap — a commentator may also be a leader. But here is how they are different.
Churches are more like organisms than they are organizations. Like an organism, when church health declines, it typically does so slowly. But there are cases when an otherwise healthy person experiences a sudden deterioration. Healthy churches can also experience a sharp decline in health. There are cases of healthy churches quickly becoming dysfunctional. Below are five ways I’ve seen churches spiral downward quickly, almost overnight.
Every church also faces obstacles. What is the difference between churches that approach obstacles with a “can do” attitude over others that have a “can’t do” attitude? What makes a church have a lively optimism over a dead pessimism?
I use the term “statesman” not in a truly political sense, though I do believe pastors should be the most active “ambassadors” for Christ in their churches. Pastors are statesmen in that they must realize they always represent their churches. That hat never comes off.
In the church, what works to grow a church today may not work in the future. You can be a popular leader, only to lose that popularity more quickly than Vanilla Ice dropped out of the mainstream.