Why Your Church’s Leadership Structure Matters

This post is not about what a church’s leadership structure, governance, or decision-making process should be (even though I have beliefs about that). This post is about why it matters and why it should be given a great deal of thought. Here are 4 reasons why the way your church structures its leadership, governance, and decision-making process matters.

1- There is a Biblical Pattern to Follow.

Most importantly, how your church is structured matters because the Bible speaks to it. This is more than just personal preference. This is more than just tradition. This should be based on more than just some practical considerations. If you ignore the biblical pattern for your church’s leadership structure and overall governance, you will be setting your church up for some major challenges.

2- It Will Determine the Health of Your Church.

An unbiblical or unwise leadership structure will directly affect the health of your church. If decisions can’t be made when they need to be made, there will be problems. If the wrong people are tasked with making the decisions, there will be challenges that arise. If there is an unhealthy process in order for decisions to made the church will suffer. I am convinced that many problems in church have risen as a result of a wrong leadership structure.

3- It Demonstrates Whether or not You Trust Scripture.

Since there is a biblical pattern of church governance and a leadership structure that is presented in the Bible, your willingness (or unwillingness) to follow what is presented demonstrates if you trust God’s design or yours. If you are unwilling to trust God’s design for leadership in the church why would you trust him in other areas?

4- It Reveals How You View the Church.

Churches are not for-profit companies, nor are they social clubs. As a result, they should not be led as such. When the leadership structure of a church is set up to mimic the leadership structure of a social club you can expect problems. When those making all the decisions are only concerned with the financial standing of a church, there will be issues. When you fail to structure your church in a biblical way, you may be revealing that you don’t really view the church as a spiritual body.

The primary problem I see is that churches are structured without any thought given to what the Bible says. As a result, they face challenges and difficulties that they would have avoided if they would have simply asked the question, ‘How does the Bible speak to this?’

The church is not a pure democracy. The responsibility we have is to structure our churches in a way that is consistent with clear biblical instruction and wise biblical principles. When we ignore those, we can expect challenges. We must care about what the Bible says and rely upon God’s plan instead of our own.

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.