4 Ways Pastors Can Grow Their Leadership Abilities

Leadership is a key component of being a pastor. Regardless of the your church’s governance structure, a pastor must lead well if the church is going to accomplish its mission. While some people are born with an innate ability to lead, it is more often learned. As a result, pastors should intentionally put effort into growing their leadership abilities. Here are 4 ways I try to grow in my leadership abilities that you might find helpful.

1- Read

On average, I read one book a week. How? While I am a fast reader, it is something I prioritize. Most every night before bed I will read for 45-60 minutes. This reading each day is not focused on sermon prep or theological issues. This time is spent reading books that will help me grow and improve in various areas of my life.

If you follow this, you will spend between 5 and 7 hours reading for the purpose of personal growth. While there are usually no dramatic changes that will take place overnight, there is a cumulative effect that, over time, will change how we lead.

2- Write

Writing can do several things. It has a way of helping you formulate thoughts. Writing can force you to determine what you think about a particular topic that perhaps you have avoided in the past. It can help you think through an issue from a number of perspectives. Writing about issues in your field helps you anticipate objections and complaints about a certain course of action.

Writing may not solve an issue that may be present, but it does help prepare the leader to lead through those issues in a more informed way.

3- Learn from other leaders

The best way I have found to learn from other leaders is to listen to podcasts while I am driving. It requires no additional time since I would be driving anyway, but allows me to be intentional with that time. On average, I listen to 5-6 podcasts per week. Four of them are focused on leadership.

Listening to these leaders talk about leadership in the context of the church allows me to grow in my understanding of leadership as well as my practice of leadership.

4- Hire a leadership coach

So, this is not something I have personally done, but it is something that intrigues me. I have been reading and studying about this and have read testimonies of many people who say their leadership has been significantly helped by this. No, it may not be for everyone, but it is worth consideration.

Regardless of which of these you strive to add into your schedule, be intentional about growing your leadership abilities. Over time you and your church will notice the difference.


10 Keys to Making Needed Changes in a Church

There are no perfect churches, which means there are needed changes in every church. How a pastor goes about making these changes will, in part, determine the future health and effectiveness of the church. Here are 10 keys that will help in making needed, God-honoring changes in a church.

1- Pray.

Ask God for wisdom and guidance. Ask God for patience as you lead. Ask God to help those in your church see the needs that exist. Ask God for unity. Thank God for the opportunity to serve his church.

2- View making needed changes as an aspect of discipleship.

 Some people don’t realize what changes are needed because they have not been taught. Perhaps they don’t understand the biblical purpose of a church. Perhaps they don’t really know how to measure health in a church.

When you view making changes as an aspect of discipleship you will be more willing to give people time to grow in their understanding of why the change is needed.

 3- Spend time with people.

 Spending time with people does two things. First, the more you spend time with people the more you will know and care about how change will affect them. Second, as you spend time with people they will get to know you and your heart for the ministry. Spending time with people will make you more caring and the congregation more trusting.

 4- Learn why things are the way they are.

 Someone once told me, “Never take down a fence until you know why it was put up.” There is great wisdom in this. Maybe something is how it is for a valid reason you have not thought about. Or maybe there is no valid reason. Either way you need to know the background.

 5- Know the vision of your church.

 Where is your church going? Changes that are not tied to a vision will frustrate people. If people in your church understand how the proposed changes will help them accomplish the vision for the church, they will be more likely to embrace it.

 6- Start with what you can.

Some things can be changed and no one will care. Start there. The effects of these seemingly small changes will begin to accumulate over time.

7- Continually get feedback from key people.

Every church as these key people who can either greatly help you as you lead or can severely hinder you. Helping these people see why change is needed will help your efforts.

8- Take advantage of key opportunities.

 Sometimes circumstances will open a door for a more significant change without the pastor having to initiate it. Let’s say a staff members leaves. You have been thinking about the need for staff restructuring, but have not wanted to push it too hard. Because of the circumstances that have presented themselves, you now have the opportunity to take a big step forward without it being perceived as something you forced to happen.

 9- Communicate the change clearly.

 I dealt with this in a PREVIOUS POST, but it cannot be overstated. Failing to communicate change clearly and deliberately will undermine everything else you have done to this point.

10- Move slowly but deliberately.

Haphazard changes will destroy trust. Moving too quickly will scare people. However, failing to move at all will frustrate and run off those who see the need for changes.

Move slowly, but move.

Change is never easy, but usually necessary. Following these 10 points will help you make the changes God is leading you to make.

How to Respond When People Tell You They’re Leaving Your Church

One of the realities of pastoring a church is that people leave. Sometimes they leave for good and valid reasons, other times they leave for bad and selfish reasons. Over the years people have come to me and said that they plan to leave my church. While it is never something I want to hear, I have learned (and am continuing to learn) how to respond. Here are 6 ways you should respond.

1- Listen to them. 

Maybe they believe God is leading them to serve somewhere else. Maybe they are leaving because they have been offended. Maybe they are leaving because they have misunderstood something you said. Regardless of their reason, you need to listen and understand what they are saying. Becoming defensive and argumentative benefits no one.

 2- Respond with honesty.

I don’t try to sugarcoat truth. If they are leaving for an unbiblical and selfish reason, I lovingly tell them so. If they are mad at someone else in the church, I lovingly urge them to do what the Bible says and go to that other person. If they are leaving over extra-biblical preferences and ignoring God’s purpose for the church, I lovingly point that out.

The worst thing pastors can do in this potential final conversation with a church member is to ignore blatant error. We should constantly point people toward biblical living, even as they are leaving our church. [Tweet “We should constantly point people toward biblical living, even as they are leaving our church.”]

 3- Ask them if it is a decision they have prayed about.

I want to know if they are viewing this as a spiritual decision, because that is what it is. If they have not prayed about it, I ask them to take two weeks before they make a final decision. This gives them time to pray about their decision.

4- Don’t try to talk them out of it.

After I have gone through the above responses, I simply say ‘okay.’

If they are not leaving for an unbiblical reason, and if it is a decision they have sincerely and selflessly prayed about, and if they sincerely believe this is what God wants for them, I need to be supportive of them following God, even if I don’t completely understand.

If they are unwilling to pray about it, or if they are leaving for unbiblical and selfish reasons, or if they are unwilling to respond biblically, me pressuring them into a decision to stay at the church for a little while longer isn’t really going to help anything. They need to make the right decision for the right reason.

5- Realize that it may be a good thing for all involved.

There have been times when my church has been making changes in order to better align us with God’s Word and the mission God has given us. Sometimes people have left because they didn’t like those changes.

I didn’t want them to leave and I prayed that they would see the importance of what we were doing and embrace our mission-driven changes, but that doesn’t always happen.

I had to understand that sometimes it is better for the church if people leave rather than staying and fighting. [Tweet “Sometimes it is better for the church if people leave rather than staying and fighting.”]

6- Pray with them on the spot.

I have not always done this, but when I have, I’ve been glad I did. It shows where your focus is. It can take the emotion out of the tense situation. It points them back to God.

It is never easy when people leave our churches. I always struggle to not take it personally. But by being committed to a proper response, you can know that you have done all you can do. This realization can help us to move on and keep doing what God has called us to do.

What else would you add to this? Please Comment Below!