Turnaround Churches 7 – Leadership

Leadership I stated in the first turnaround church post that these “steps”
are not necessarily in order. If I put them in order, this might come first.
Among many reasons I might do so, if your church is in need of a turnaround,
leadership is almost certainly a part of the reason why.
Based on my own experiences and that of my colleagues, leadership
is probably the single biggest practical “maker or breaker” there is.

If
leadership is unified, strong, and open-minded, it’s rare that a church
struggles. If leadership is dysfunctional, rigid, and spiritually barren…watch
out.
Never have I seen a church rise above God or Satan’s work through
leadership.
If you think leadership doesn’t matter that much, please
open the Scriptures and read the stories of the Judges and Kings. Read the book
of Joshua. Read of Jesus’ leadership and that of Paul, Peter, and John.
Leadership matters…a lot.

Strong, godly leadership possesses certain traits. Among
these are:

Confident Humility
– They understand they don’t know everything, but understand God has called
them to something valuable. People argue their case, and then submit themselves
to the cumulative wisdom of the group. They believe their opinion is valuable
and helpful, but so is that of others. They do not see themselves as “above”
the flock, but also understand that they have been called to partner with God
in a special way. They are willing to entrust high-capacity leadership to those
outside their group, but don’t shy away from making the decisions God has
called them to make.


Unity – They prize
unity and attack schism for the cancer it is. They don’t cave to a vocal
minority. They are not "group-thinkers." They are able to lock arms and confront harmful behavior in the church or within
their ranks. They look out for each other and pastor one another even as they
pastor the flock of God…even if it means disciplining one another for harmful
behavior. If someone in leadership is an obvious detriment to the health of the
Body, they confront the behavior with strength and humility.

Courage – They do
not shy away from tough conversations. They have them with people who are
struggling spiritually, and people who are acting out in the Body. They are
willing to take holy risks. They are not afraid.


Vision – They seek God's direction and act on it. They are open to vision coming through
them, or through whomever God gives it to. They actively seek the advance of
the Kingdom and the growth and health of God’s church.


Grace – They demonstrate
the heart and attitudes of Christ in their treatment of people.

This list is not exhaustive, but it's a start. I could go on forever about church leadership. I won’t. But,
I will take this opportunity to beg you to pay attention to it. Choose leaders
that embody these qualities, and offer them whatever resources they need to
grow in these areas.

Ministry leaders and those who serve in the church as a
whole are a part of leadership. However, the most pivotal layer of church
leadership is comprised of elders, staff, and the elders/staff unit as a whole.
All three need care and growth all the time. If the leadership garden is tended
well, spiritual and numerical growth will be virtually inevitable. If it isn’t…well,
you know.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Share Your Thoughts

4 thoughts on “Turnaround Churches 7 – Leadership

  1. Man, you have hit this on the head. I really appreciate your thoughts on this. In my very limited experience in ministry I have seen this to be completely accurate — leadership is definitely the “maker or breaker” as you say. The question I grapple with is what can be done to improve a situation where these qualities are lacking in the leadership? And has anyone been in a situation where the leadership has actually changed?

  2. One thing I wish church leaders would do is look to Jesus as the model for leadership rather than the coorporate world. I am not saying Christian leadership cannot be enhanced by insights from the school of coorporate leadership but if the core definition of Christian leadership is not established first by Jesus, the character of leadership being employed will almost surely do more harm than good. I have experienced a miserable ministry experience where I wish this would have been understood.
    Grace and peace,
    K. Rex Butts

  3. Dean…thanks for the kind words. I too have worked with both. It’s hard to understate the importance of leadership in the Kingdom. As I recall, you are the one that also introduced me to Peter Steinke and others in class. I owe you for that 🙂

  4. You have offered a lot of good advice, but this is probably your best entry yet. Take it from someone that spent over 30 years in ministry and worked with really good leadership and really corrupt leadership, this is the key to health and growth.