Thursday, March 20, 2008

Leadership (part 1)

I believe one of the great challenges of pastoral ministry today is leadership. Joel Barker, in his video Leadershift: Five Lessons for Leaders in the 21st Century, said, "A Leader is someone you choose to follow to a place you wouldn’t go by yourself." I like his definition. I want to share some thoughts about pastoral ministry and leadership in a series of posts over the next few months. I welcome your input and thoughts. I will number the posts to help you track my thoughts.

Very early in my ministry I read a little book entitled, Called to Joy: A Design for Pastoral Ministries, by Ernest E. Mosley. I found the basic premise of the book very helpful in understanding my personal ministry, and I have also used the book to help staff members, deacons and other church leaders explore a balanced approach to pastoral ministries. Mosley divided pastoral ministry into three major areas of responsibility:

1. Lead the church in the accomplishment of its mission.
2. Proclaim the gospel to believers and unbelievers.
3. Care for the church's members and other persons in the community.

He also described the relationship of these three major areas of responsibility, and he utilized a visual model that I found helpful in understanding their relationship. He used three interlocking circles that demonstrate the inter-relatedness of the pastoral ministries roles. Pastors Care, Proclaim and Lead. We do all three; however, my experience is that normally we have greater strengths in one or two areas and lesser gifts in the other areas. Some pastors are great preachers, but lack the skills necessary to provide effective leadership for the congregation. Other pastors may be weaker in the pulpit, but their pastoral care skills and personal relationships carry their ministry. Obviously, it would be great if we could all be completed gifted and perfectly balanced in our gifts and ministry, but our humanity betrays us.

Early in my ministry I began to recognize some of my weaknesses. I worked hard to strengthen the areas of my ministry that were weaker. My personal conviction is that classical theological education does a better job of preparing ministers "to proclaim" and "to care" than it does "to lead." While the church administration classes I had in seminary were helpful, they really did not provide the kind of help needed to prepare me to lead a congregation. Many areas such as personnel supervision, financial planning and management, strategic planning, stewardship development, and many others received only cursory or no attention. Much of what I learned about leadership, I learned from supervisors, mentors and training opportunities I had throughout my ministry. The Christian life is a journey. The missional church is a community on a journey of faith. Unfortunately, many pastors are not equipped or trained to provide the leadership necessary to help the congregation make the journey. Remember Barker definition says, A leader is someone we choose to follow to a place you would not go by yourself. This series of posts will allow us to explore how we can "lead" our churches to make the journey.

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