bits from bob....

Small Church Leadership

by Robert J. Young
©, 2002, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

The subject of my doctoral research project was leadership. Many options can be considered, especially in the small church--elders, no elders, ministers, deacons, volunteers.... These factors affect all we do. Here are the variaables for our mentality, world view, hiring processes, teamwork, turf issues, church personality....the list is virtually endless.

I take as a text Romans 12:1-2. One of hardest transitions for ambitious, well-trained people who would lead small churches is a mental one. It is hard to view the small church as legitimate, having integrity, and validity, if one conforms to a rational, future oriented, "successful", programmed, quantitative thinking model. This demands that we who would lead small churches must be transformed.
The small church must be understood on its own terms, not society's, not church of Christ terms, not business world's views. This is insightful for understanding an approach to valid leadership in small church.

Based on our text, one definition of ministry and leadership in small church: To participate with God in transforming human beings from present state to full potential of divine destiny.
Understanding leadership as the transformation of human life keeps us on track. The goal of any ministry is not production or running programs. Transformation is God's, it is not scheduled, sought, it is only glimpsed and nurtured. Production can be scheduled, studied. Transformation takes time.

Consider several principles to guide leadership in the small church:

If change is accepted, one of two things occurs: (1) It is not really new, we did about the same thing before, (2) Those who were most opposed becomes the loudest supporters of the change.
I don't understand this entirely, but reminds me of hockey goalie who after giving up winning goal, praised his opponent, "He has to be a good player to get one past me." So in the small church, it must have been a pretty good idea to have gotten past those whose sole purpose in the church seems to be to Preserve The Equilibrium (PTE club).
If give person a hammer, amazing what he will find to pound on. The tools at one's disposal, more than needs of situation, determine behavior. The tools of our education, focused on rational, bureaucratic structures, forward looking organizations, are wonderful. But to minister effectively in small church, need another set of tools. The attitude and approach of the small church leader is the most basic tool.


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Last updated June 1, 2004.