by Doug Peters
How will your church leadership lead? Will their ministry of leadership be Proactive or Reactive? Intentional or Indiscriminate? Consistent or Chaotic? And what can you do to increase the likelihood of preferred outcomes?
Efficiency – Leaders with predetermined understandings of their working relationship will be able to invest more of their time together in spiritually and relationally substantive matters. Mutually agreed upon leadership “ground rules” enable leaders to focus on pursuing the God-given mission of the church instead of reactively sorting out how they will function each time a new “hot issue” stands before them.
Objectivity – The best time to establish group norms and procedures is not when a significant decision is looming and anxiety is elevated. Objectively sorting out how leader teams will make various types of decisions during a season of intentional discernment (such as the interim season) is ideal.
Accountability – The process of asking good questions and adopting Useful Understandings enables leadership team members to hold each other responsible to sound principles. Healthy accountability within a group is only possible if there are previously agreed upon goals and standards. Ambiguity does not lead to accountability.
Harmony – While diversity of thought and giftedness is often a leadership team strength, conflicts tend to arise whenever there are competing values and understandings within the group. Leaders that know how diversity and dissent are to be handled are more likely to be able to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the midst of the storm. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Expectancy – By investing themselves in casting a vision for how their group will function, effective leaders also prepare their leadership team and church for the future. Prospective elders that are trying to discern if God is calling them to serve will benefit from a clear knowledge of how the group intends to function. Minister candidates will appreciate having an accurate awareness of the leadership culture they are considering. New leaders can covenant with other leaders for the sake of the church.
The Interim Season – that occasion when a church is in a spiritual discernment process to identify a minister – is an ideal time for church leader groups to step back and prayerfully contemplate how God is calling them to most effectively serve God’s people into God’s future. Wisdom suggests that until a church answers the “Who are we?” question, they are not ready to answer the “Who are we looking for?” question. In the same way, wise leaders will do well to discern and clarify some Useful Understandings about how God is calling them to lead before they invite a key leader into their midst.