Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

A Crisis of Leadership

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Churches across America are experiencing decreasing numbers. Often external factors like cultural influences are blamed for the decline in church membership. Certainly, the times they are a-changing, but placing all the blame on others without looking at ourselves is not a way to move forward. In fact, in certain cases, we are the first to blame. There are various reasons why a congregation might experience a decline. One main reason is a crisis of leadership. Where there is toxic or unhealthy leadership, people flee. They will also not stick around if there is a lack of leadership. Before we point fingers at the culture or other outside influences for the drop in attendance, we should consider leadership and other internal factors. Here are four questions we can ask to determine whether the leadership at a congregation is functioning properly.

Are you neglecting the only person who has been trained for ministry leadership?

Elders are to lead the church, but so are ministers. In Titus 1:5, Titus was charged with appointing elders. Ministers and elders are both leadership roles in a local congregation. They have different functions, but they are both called to lead. Ministers and elders should both be included in developing a vision for the congregation. Often, the minister is the only one who has had extensive training in church leadership. This does not mean the minister should make all the decisions, but it does mean he should be an important voice at the table. At the same time, the minister must submit himself to the eldership. He is a leader under their guidance.

Are leadership meetings energizing or something people dread?

I was once at a congregation where everyone dreaded attending leadership meetings. One of the main reasons was because there was an individual with a toxic personality who picked a fight at every meeting. People grew weary and it wasn’t long before some of our best leaders stopped attending meetings altogether. Dysfunctional leadership meetings will have a negative effect on the congregation. On the other hand, if leadership meetings go well, then this will positively influence the congregation. Infighting among leaders will destroy a church, but mutual Christian love for one another among the leadership will energize and encourage a congregation.

Is there a clear vision for where you are heading or is everyone satisfied with the status quo?

The purpose of being led is that you are going somewhere. No one wants to be led in circles. Every congregation needs a vision for where they are going and a plan for how to get there. Too often, leaders are content with doing nothing. They don’t want to grow. They don’t want to change. They want things to stay just as they are. They then are surprised when numbers begin to decline. People can sense when there is no vision or plan in place. Most people are content with being led as long as they know there is a vision.

Are leaders encouraged to learn and grow?

Stagnation will slowly kill a congregation. We are all to continue to grow in our faith and this begins with leadership. A church with a leadership that refuses to learn and grow is a dying church. Ministers need time off for continuing education. Elders should look for opportunities to attend seminars or look for other opportunities to learn. Every seminar, class, lectureship, workshop, etc. that a leader attends will bless the congregation. A leader does not attend these events solely for his own good, but he attends them for the good of all the members he has been charged with leading.

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