Putting practical meaning to ministry
- Module 1: Introduction
- Module 2: The Church vs. The Concept of Leadership
- Module 3: Elements of Leadership
- Module 4: Ministry Time Management
- Module 5: Bad Practices in Church Management
- Module 6: Summing Up
Originally Presented as a training seminar for local pastors in 2005 by Victor Mensah. Access the original presentation here
- 1 MODULE 1
- 2 Objectives
- 3 Definition
- 4 Definition
- 5 Summary
- 6 MODULE 2
- 7 The Church VS. The Concept of Leadership
- 8 Self Assessment
- 9 Summary
- 10 MODULE 3
- 11 Elements of Leadership
- 12 Summary
- 13 MODULE 4
- 14 MINISTRY TIME MANAGEMENT
- 15 Activity
- 16 Summary
- 17 MODULE 5
- 18 BAD PRACTICES IN CHURCH LEADERSHIP
- 19 Summary
- 20 MODULE 6
- 21 Summing UP
A warm welcome to the course. You may be a leader in your church or a leader in a ministry in a church. Or you may simply be a member. Or you may simply be an interested party in this subject. A hearty welcome nonetheless!
Let us first start by attempting to define management and then leadership.
What is Management?
While several definitions of management are available, let us attempt to take a very simple one.
This definition presents us with three variables involved in the process of management – the situation/activity or thing to be done; the people to do the activity; and the person the get them to do that activity. The definition also makes it clear that since the activity/thing is to be done through other people and with them, then the manager is not just a passive being in this process but an active player. The manager, is also a worker.
What is Leadership?
Before we get started, let’s define leadership too. As usual, many people have generated several definitions of the term. For our purposes of this course however, let us consider one rather simple and generic one.
Leaders carry out this process by applying their leadership attributes, such as beliefs, values, ethics, character, knowledge, and skills.
The basis of good leadership, one may say, is honourable character and selfless service to your organization. In your employees' eyes, your leadership is everything you do that effects the organization's objectives and their well being. Respected leaders concentrate on what they are [be] (such as beliefs and character), what they know (such as job, tasks, and human nature), and what they do (such as implementing, motivating, and provide direction).
A Philosophy of Christian management
But the question to ask after going through all these definitions is: "what do they have to do with the church?". Even more so, you may ask, "is there any room for such academic terms and definitions in the spiritual and sacred institution like a church?". "Are there pure biblical principles for consideration in debating these terms?" These questions and more, have berated Christians for ages - you will not be the first. Without blinking an eye, the answer to the last question is a big YES!! However this manual therefore will attempt to present the issues in a format with less biblical quotes and examples. We will bequeath that responsibility to the senior pastors and facilitators of the course. In presenting the course, facilitators are free to present biblical case studies as well as real life examples of the issues contained here as it pertains to their church.
To progress in the area of practical dialogue therefore, let us consider what it means to embed a philosophies of management into christian organisations/churches/ministries. Consider the extent of practicality of these statements ...
- The purpose of management in Christian organizations is to create a fertile climate for spiritual service—a sense of shared mission, wise stewardship of resources, and mutual supportiveness.
- The purpose of a Christian ministry is not excellent management per se. Management is merely a means to the end of serving God.
- Ministry team members are valued not only for their performance contributions to the ministry, but also because they are members of God’s family.
- The ministry team is to be a "family" of people who care about and for one another.
- Management of Christian organizations is to be people-centered and participative.
- Ministry management places a high value on cooperation and teamwork.
- Team members are motivated by a shared sense of vision and mission, which is more important to them than personal gain. Goals are pursued selflessly and sacrificially.
- How Christians work with one another is just as important as what they are striving to accomplish.
- A key aim of ministry management is to help team members become more “Christlike”
- Management in Christian organizations is ultimately a partnership with God, built on prayer, faith, and obedience.
So what have we studies so far?
In the next module, we will take the philosophy of management in the Christian environment further by exploring the concept and practical applications of leadership as it relates to the church or ministry.
The Church VS. The Concept of Leadership
After going through the definitions of Management and Leadership in the previous module, let us now consider the relationship between the concept of leadership and the church as an institution. This module will present several questions for consideration and discussions before providing briefs and notes.
Now, lets tackle a few questions and brain teasers <smile>
What do you feel is the concept of Leadership?
Try the following, answering True or false.
- “The only people who lead have some kind of leadership job, such as chairman, coach, or king.”
- “Leadership is a gift. If you are born with it, you can lead. If you are not, you can't.”
- “‘Leader’ is another word for ‘boss’”.
- “Being a leader in a Scout troop is like being a leader anywhere else.”
Which Leader Are You?
Now, take a pause and undertake this simple self-assessment.
This should take you not more than 10 minutes.
What Does a Leader Deal with?
Every leader deals with just two things: the job and the group.
The job is what is to be done. The "job" doesn't necessarily mean work. It could be playing a game. It could be building a Sunday-school. It could be getting across an idea. A leader is needed to get the job done. If there were no job, there would be no need for a leader. The group, such as a patrol, is the people who do the job. And in many cases, the group continues after the job is done. This is where leading gets tough, as you'll see later.
The Job of a Leader
As we have identified earlier, a leader works with two elements: a job and a group. You can always tell when a leader succeeds, because:
- The job gets done, and
- The group holds together.
Leadership differs with the leader, the group, and the situation. What works today may not necessarily work tomorrow. Good leadership will therefore require not just a set of time-tested tools/actions for success, but a careful analysis of every situation to ensure that the best decision is taken to ensure that the job is done, and the group holds together even after the job has been done.
Picture a long scale like a yardstick. On the low end, there are no leadership skills. On the other end, there is a complete set of leadership skills. Everyone is somewhere between those ends! It sometimes doesn't matter which end you are on. After-all, it really is very difficult to know exactly which point on the yard you are on. What matters is your conscious attempt to continue developing yourself and others around you. As your followers keep developing, it is simply logical to ensure that you develop with them if not even faster. Progressive leadership development may sometimes simply mean listening to your followers, to their ideas, challenges and the innovative solutions on the possibilities frontier. Apart from this, be open minded and keep reading.
Twelve Ways to Identify a Promising Person
If leadership can be developed, then what do you do with that knowledge? Does the church attempt to institute a "mass production plant" to produce leaders?. A big NO - well, somehow!! The fact is that, there must at any time, be leaders and followers. Some leaders today will the followers tomorrow or even today under a different leader for a different task. In the same way, various leaders may need different skills to performs their duties in their current roles. Although sometimes leaders seam to simply rise out of the blue, it may on more often occasions require some "development". The "very promising" leaders should be identified and encouraged to develop themselves. Care must however be taken in this endeavour.
The most gifted athletes rarely make good coaches. The best violinist will not necessarily make the best conductor. The best chorister may not always be the best choir mistress/master. Nor will the best teacher necessarily make the best head of that department/ministry. So it's critical to distinguish between the skill of performance and the skill of leading the performance - two entirely different skills.
It's also important to determine whether a person is capable of learning leadership. The natural leader will stand out. The trick is identifying those who are capable of learning leadership over time. Here are several traits to help identify whether someone is capable of learning to lead.
- Leadership in the past. To create or catch vision.
- A person who doesn't feel the thrill of challenge is not a potential leader.
- A constructive spirit of discontent.
- People locked in the status quo are not leaders.
- Practical ideas.
- Brainstorming is not a particularly helpful practice in leadership, because ideas need to stay practical.
- A willingness to take responsibility.
- A completion factor.
- Mental toughness.
- Peer respect.
- Family respect.
- A quality that makes people listen to them.
In the next module, we will discuss further the elements of leadership. We will further discusses how to "mix" these elements to ensure the right delivery of services to your church or ministry
Elements of Leadership
Welcome to this module. In the previous modules, we defined management and leadership and related these concepts to practical "goings-on" of our churches and ministries. In this module we will look at several "elements" in leadership. Where there may be several "elements" put forward by leadership writers over time, we will consider just three:
- the principles of Leadership
- the factors of leadership, and
- the qualities of leadership.
Before we proceed further, kindly note that, this module may well raise the most controversy and intellectual conflict in course. The "principles", "factors", and "qualities" discussed here are not exclusive nor exhaustive. They have been chosen from a vast multi-source pool and highlighted here for discussion and debate.
Principles of Leadership
The U.S. Army has a rather simplistic but effective way of describing the "principles" that make good leadership in their view:
- to BE,
- to KNOW, and
- to DO
To help you be, know, and do; according to the U.S. Army (1973), following these eleven principles of leadership will help in personal development.
- Know yourself and seek self-improvement - In order to know yourself, you have to understand your be, know, and do, attributes. Seeking self-improvement means continually strengthening your attributes. This can be accomplished through self-study, formal classes, reflection, and interacting with others.
- Be technically proficient - As a leader, you must know your job and have a solid familiarity with your employees' tasks.
- Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions - Search for ways to guide your organization to new heights. And when things go wrong, they always do sooner or later -- do not blame others. Analyze the situation, take corrective action, and move on to the next challenge.
- Make sound and timely decisions - Use good problem solving, decision making, and planning tools.
- Set the example - Be a good role model for your employees. They must not only hear what they are expected to do, but also see. We must become the change we want to see - Mahatma Gandhi
- Know your people and look out for their well-being - Know human nature and the importance of sincerely caring for your workers.
- Keep your workers informed - Know how to communicate with not only them, but also seniors and other key people.
- Develop a sense of responsibility in your workers - Help to develop good character traits that will help them carry out their professional responsibilities.
- Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished - Communication is the key to this responsibility.
- Train as a team - Although many so called leaders call their organization, department, section, etc. a team; they are not really teams...they are just a group of people doing their jobs.
- Use the full capabilities of your organization - By developing a team spirit, you will be able to employ your organization, department, section, etc. to its fullest capabilities.
I will just add three more points (perhaps just for emphasis:
- Be honest
- Love (the verb and command) - L-O-V-E!!
- Seek the Lord's guidance - ALWAYS!!
Factors of Leadership
There are four major factors in leadership:
- The People (followers)
- The Leader
- The Situation (or environment), and
People matter - a lot, in any organisation, much more so the church!! Off course, it will be ridiculous to think that any organisation will even "exist" without PEOPLE. People consist generally of ALL types of members in the organisation including the those with leadership roles. In the nut shell, leaders must see themselves first as a member or the "people" before being a "leader".
After putting the followers and leaders in perspective, you can really complete the equation to determine who is truly a leader by looking at how they "perform" in different situations. The situation is specific issue or issues that arise in the environment of the church. The foundations of dealing with these situations lies mostly in how people/leaders communicate. Start by examining the following"
- What is being communicated?
- Who is being communicated to?
- How is the communication being done?
- Where is the communication being done?
The figure below illustrates the relation between the four factors of leadership.
As indicated earlier, the US Army is seriously passionate about their BE-KNOW-DO "harmonization" of leadership. Let us now try to generate some real-life examples and situations for use of this in the church environment.
Provide alternative examples to each of the following points.
- BE a professional. Examples: Be loyal to the organization, perform selfless service, take personal responsibility.
- BE a professional who possess good character traits. Examples: Honesty, competence, candor, commitment, integrity, courage, straightforwardness, imagination.
- KNOW the four factors of leadership - follower, leader, communication, situation.
- KNOW yourself. Examples: strengths and weakness of your character, knowledge, and skills.
- KNOW human nature. Examples: Human needs, emotions, and how people respond to stress.
- KNOW your job. Examples: be proficient and be able to train others in their tasks.
- KNOW your organization. Examples: where to go for help, its climate and culture, who the unofficial leaders are.
- DO provide direction. Examples: goal setting, problem solving, decision making, planning.
- DO implement. Examples: communicating, coordinating, supervising, evaluating.
- DO motivate. Examples: develop morale and team-spirit in the organization, train, coach, counsel.
- Plan before you work – Management By Objectives (MBOs)
- Become a Master of Change and Earn People’s Trust
- Give Feedback on all issues
- Build Enthusiasm among congregation to work
- Get Involved! Believe in, and apply Team Work
- Growth and Development (both spiritually and intellectually) should be your goal.
- Make Good Decisions
- Analyse Issues and People on their merit
- Turn Problems into opportunities
- Manage your Time well
- Be careful in handling Finances
- Be concerned about your personal development also
- Let your actions be guided by the potential for a "higher glory/good"
- BE GOOD!! - S-I-M-P-L-E !!!!
MINISTRY TIME MANAGEMENT
The manager’s scarcest resource is usually not information, nor manpower, nor even money—it’s time. We all have exactly the same amount of it each day, but some of us have a great deal more to show for it. The goal of managing time is not to get more of it, but rather to get more out of it.
Volumes of excellent readings about time management have appeared in recent years, offering a valuable array of time-saving techniques and tips. When boiled down, however, most of this material has a common theme: control your priorities. We spend our time according to what is most important to us. The way to effective time management lies with carefully defining our priorities management—the proverbial putting first things first.
The ministry manager’s priorities should revolve around the following foundational question: Who benefits by the way you spend your time? Time management decisions in a Christian setting must be governed by the opportunity to serve others. Time invested in ministry activities that benefit others is time well spent.
This suggests a foundational truth about effective time management: once ministry managers are service-oriented, their time actually belongs to others. Time must not be selfishly hoarded by the manager, but other generously invested in others. Spending our precious time on others is actually a greater sacrifice than spending our money on them. The familiar adage, you have to give up something in order to get something, rings true for time management. One of the most common debilitating mistakes ministry managers make is to create more time for serving others simply by working longer hours. They seek to serve by adding on more and more "floors" to an already towering "skyscraper" of daily activities.
Becoming an over-committed "workaholic" is not the solution to the one problem. Giving up some lower priority time-consuming activities the only effective solution. In short, you must give up something of lesser importance) to get something (of greater importance). Christian who genuinely desired desire to serve others will strive to be under committed rather than over-committed. They will have time on their hands, giving them a receptiveness that invites rather than shuts out others.
Such advice may sound like sheer madness to the busiest of managers who blame "role overload" for their habitual lack of time. Indeed, ministry managers are often extremely busy and pressed for time. But then this becomes a professional lifestyle, a significant reworking of the management is warranted.
Time Management in ACTION
Take 60 minutes and undertake the following activity. Be as realistic as possible
TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE MINISTRY (Committee) MEETINGS
Ministry or Committee meetings can very often "take the wind" out of committed members if not managed properly. While it is necessary to spend time in the Lord's house, wasting time is sinful and will surely be counter-productive. The following four sub-heading may be helpful.
- If possible, post meeting dates in the Sunday bulletin and newsletter
- Give members a reminder call the day before the meeting
- Send out an early agenda by mail or email, or let ministry team members pick it up at the church in a mailbox designated for the committee
- State when meetings will begin and end, and stick to the schedule
- Meetings should never exceed 90 minutes. Even if members are willing to go longer, stick with this rule to avoid creating a negative affect towards future meetings in the minds of members
- Strive to “annotate” agenda items with brief explanatory notes—stress “why” more than “what.”
- Use email or the church box drop-off system to get member reactions on “controversial” agenda items before the meeting, which enables gives committee members the big picture at the start of the meeting and helps the ministry leader know where to focus the discussion
- Always provide some sort of snack (both healthy and unhealthy is possible) at each meeting
- Schedule 15 minutes of social time at the end of the meeting for those who would like to stay
Tips for dealing with the minutes of team meetings
- Prepare and distribute minutes to members as soon as possible after the meeting
- Write minutes in an informal, conversational style (please see the handout example). Stress what was accomplished at the previous meeting more than what was discussed.
- Write the minutes more for those who weren’t at the meeting than for those who were
- Don’t discuss minutes until the end of the meeting in order to get the meeting off to a non-routine start
- NEVER spend more than 5 minutes discussing “minutes.
Leading the Meeting Fruitfully
- Stick to the purpose of agenda items but don’t feel bound by the letter of the agenda. Don’t get bogged down with any single item on the agenda—schedule another time to discuss thorny issues
- Interject thought-provoking questions:
- "Who would benefit from this?”
- “What do you think would happen if…?"
- “What are the pros and cons of…?"
- "Who would benefit from this?”
- Solicit the thoughts or comments of quieter team members
- Occasionally paraphrase what others say for positive reinforcement and to promote good listening
- When someone offers a challenging or potentially controversial comment, ask other team members to state what they heard this person say. Then ask the one who made the comment if that is what they meant. Ask for people’s feelings about the matter (to help them vent emotion)
- Strive to maintain a continuous balance between facts/information shared by team members and their feelings/opinions. Consciously shift the discussion from one mode to the other as needed
- Don't push for a decision if you think an issue hasn't been discussed enough (especially where conflict/controversy are involved), or when you perceive people haven't been very transparent in their comments. Sometimes it’s best to let people’s thoughts and feelings “simmer” between meetings
- Constantly emphasize how others benefit form the ministry’s work
- Always be alert during meetings for the emergence of conflict and recognize the difference between “hot” and “cool” conflict. Hot conflict is centered in temperamental personality clashes and unresolved interpersonal problems between ministry members. Cool conflict is rooted in different perspectives about what should be done or how it should be done
- Do everything possible before, during, and after each meeting to deliver the “4 IAMs” to ministry members: I am productive, competent, needed, and appreciated in the ministry work I do
Tips For Defusing Conflict In Group Meetings
- Occasionally paraphrase what others say for positive reinforcement and to promote good listening.
- When someone offers a challenging or potentially controversial comment, ask other team members to state what they heard this person say. Then ask the one who made the comment if that is what they meant. Ask for people’s feelings about the matter (to help them vent emotion).
- Strive to maintain a continuous balance between facts/information shared by team members and their feelings/opinions. Consciously shift the discussion from one mode to the other as needed:
- Facts/information → Feelings/opinions → Facts-information → Feelings/opinions, etc.
BAD PRACTICES IN CHURCH LEADERSHIP
A church is a holy place. It is a good place. Nonetheless, leaders can be tempted to fall prey to numerous negative practices. These very often lead to the downfall of many great leaders. It is recommended that you study this module so carefully. Perhaps it should ring in your mind at every second of the day in your actions and inactions.
We will consider 3 main points:
- Financial Matters
- Abuse of Power
- Bad Personal Disposition
Finances are what practically moves the development of churches “earthwise”. Every church needs to accumulate enough to grow and develop itself.
Financial Matters however are a great bane on a lot of church leaders. The church leader is often also in-charge of manning the church finances, spending, taking financial decisions alone and accounting for them. These provide a lot of avenue for misconceptions and the practical treat of temptations. The church, whether it was set up by you alone or not is not a personal entity. Even if every body agrees that it “belongs” to you alone, you are not the jack of all trades. You can’t be an expert in finances always.
The following actions are recommended for your church:
- Get somebody or a group specifically in charge of funds. This includes fund-raising, investments or financial management, controls and accounting for them.
- Pay all church staff and ministers on a structured, agreed-upon and transparent system
- Maintain petty cash systems for everyday church running
- The finance team must prepare financial statements, get them audited and read to members at least once a year. Even if members don’t want to hear the accounts being read, read them!
- Churches should be social enterprises, raising funds through other sources apart from offertories and tithes. Depending too much on the traditional sources of funds may put too much of a stress on members. Be innovative is setting up church-based social enterprises, but not too aggressive to become "money-centered"
- Get financial experts to help if need be.
Abusing Power to Get Your Way
Leaders can’t accomplish much without power, and organizations can’t accomplish much without powerful leaders. Like any other tool, power can be used for constructive purposes or destructive — it all hinges on the leader’s character. The following must be guarded against:
- Agenda control.
- Committee desk-stacking.
- Hatching or devising change in isolation.
- PR and “spin.”
- Telling people simply what they want to hear
Bad Personal Disposition
How do you present yourself to your congregation and the outside world? Presenting yourself in the accurate light physically and mentally (attitudinally) will go a long in making your task as a leader and church manager successful.
Physically, a leader has to be very cautious about the appearance and how he or she keeps the body. You have to be healthy in health and in looks. Bad Dressing has made a lot of church leaders repulsive. You are not to “over-dress”, but look presentable. For example, black belts should go with black shoes and black bags. These are social laws that should not be broken. These are not to be fixated on, idolised, or taken to the extremes. However, whether we appreciate it or dislike it, your dressing, haircut, finger and toe nails, and your general appearance speak a lot to your congregation, and about your congregation to the whole world. Check it!
Physical appearance will not only be limited to your person as the leaders of the church or ministry. How organised or not your office, house, car, etc, is can have an immense impact on your own delivery as well as the growth of your members. What will a first time visitor to your church think about the decor in the chapel or the (mis)arrangements in your office?
Mentally or attitudinally you have to carve a certain description for yourself. What is your emotional state? Do you get easily offended and abusive? Do you have the utmost control of your emotions - do you exude emotional intelligence? Do you easily mingle with your congregation, or perhaps you mingle too much with them. Your relationship with your congregation and the outside world can be analysed by the following paragraphs.
"Some leaders are unusually good chess players because they can move the bishops, knights, rooks, pawns, and kings and queens around the board at will."
Remember: No relationships are needed with inert chess pieces. Unfortunately, leading flesh-and-blood animate people is not quite so simple.
"Relationship-building is the very heart and soul of Christian leadership. People don’t like to be treated as abstractions devoid of personalities, feelings, and uniqueness."
As headstrong Captain Kirk of Star Trek was fond of reminding the rationalistic Vulcan, Mr. Spock:
"People are messy and emotional. They’re hard to understand and control!"
High-relationship and low-relationship leaders are as different as humans and Vulcans:
|The Low-Relationship Leader:||The Relational Leader:|
|Prefers working alone||Enjoys working with others on teams|
|Is uncomfortable in spontaneous social settings||Is stimulated by socializing|
|Lacks insight into the subtleties of human behaviour||Is perceptive about what makes people “tick”|
|Makes decisions analytically with facts and figures||Factors feelings and political realities into decision-making|
|Is perfectionistic and perceives reality in “black and white” terms||Takes a flexible, creative approach to managing|
|Dislikes “wasting time” with small talk and fellowship||Is patient and friendly with others|
|Displays a “cool,” detached demeanor||Conveys warmth and empathy|
|Avoids conflict, hoping it will just go away||Strives to resolve conflict in order to maintain healthy relationships|
|Believes motivating and inspiring people is unnecessary||Encourages and equips others|
Low-relationship people can make a number of contributions in Christian organizations, but leadership is seldom their strong suit. Since interacting with others tends to “drain their battery,” they are much better suited to perform valuable technical assignments (such as financial management, computer projects, writing, and problem-solving), where their self-motivated, hard-working, non-political temperament can pay big dividends. Christian organizations shouldn’t expect their low-relationship members to carry a heavy leadership load.
Ten Ways Christian Leaders Get Neutralized
Every church and Christian organization has members who, intentionally or not, sure seem to know how to take the wind out of a leader’s sails. Even the best-equipped, most enthusiastic leader can get “neutralized”. Know about the following types of “troublesome” members and prepare to manage them effectively:
Member #1: Tells the leader what he or she hopes to hear, but feeble follow-up efforts assure that next-to-nothing is ever accomplished.
Member #2: Fails to show up for important meetings and consequently spends a lot of time wondering around confused.
Member #3: Follows through on some assignments, but not on others, delivering just enough to eternally frustrate leaders.
Member #4: Is stuck in a rut, afraid to be challenged with new responsibilities or duties.
Member #5: Has to be micromanaged if anything is to be accomplished. To “benefit” from this member’s “help,” the beleaguered leader must schedule a one-on-one meeting, round up the requisite supplies and equipment, answer umpteen questions, and pep talk the reluctant volunteer!
Member #6: Is the proverbial bull in a china shop when it comes to working with other people—domineering, impatient, thin-skinned, uncommunicative, and grouchy. No wonder church leaders wish he could be put in charge of mowing the church lawn all by himself!
Member #7: Wants to be a leader but makes a better follower. Put in charge of a project, this member quickly “muddies the water” with poor organization, opaque communication, indecisive decision-making, and wasted time. Then when a new project surfaces, the member is first in line to take charge.
Member #8: Volunteers to do an important project but manages to turn it into a different project that nobody asked for. The youth group asked our intrepid member to come up with a new fundraiser project, but she somehow got sidetracked and obligated the disconcerted teens to spend all day Saturday cleaning cages at the local animal center.
Member #9: Lacks discernment in separating the spiritual from the secular. He prays with the junior high group but rudely yells at them ten minutes later for rowdiness; he tells a borderline off color joke at the Sunday school opening assembly; and the last check he dropped in the offering plate bounced. Now what duty should the pastor dare to saddle him with?
Member #10: Bogs down meetings by monopolizing the discussion and derailing attempts at consensus. One committee chair comments, “Every time we’re driving to score a touchdown on an important decision, Bob manages to fumble the football.”
So far, we have underscored the meaning of management and leadership. We have discussed the characteristics that define these concepts. We then discussed the place of management and leadership in the sacred institution - the Church. In doing this, we delved into the elements of leadership as it relates to the practicality of managing a church or a ministry of the church. We then focused our attention to some of the more intangible resources of the church, eg "TIME", and discussed ways of ensuring more optimal usage. We then discussed some of the less pleasant but practical aspects of a church's life - the "bad" practices. In discussing these practices that should mostly be avoided, we underscored some of the ways to mitigate impact and to prevent them in the first instance.
Let us sum up by taking a short assessment of our church. What do we REALLY know about our church?
The Three Most Important Things Every Church Should Know About Itself
Why does our church exist?
A multitude of churches exist for a multitude of reasons. Some are church plants put in place to round out a denomination’s geographic coverage. Others spring up independently to fill a perceived spiritual gap in the community. Other congregations are the by-product of a church split or theological split within their denomination.
So why does your church exist? If it’s for the Great Commission, how faithfully are you pursuing it? If it’s to build god-fearing families, how are marriages and kids holding up? If your church is keen on community outreach, what impact are you making at the grassroots level? If you’re a disciple-making congregation, how many spiritually-reproducing disciples are hard at Kingdom work? If you exist for social activism, has your community benefited from greater justice, equality, and sharing of wealth? Are you a holiness church relying on God’s mighty Spirit to miraculously transform and renew lives? If so, is the agape love of members for one another maturing and deepening? Have their lives been transported to a higher spiritual plain?
Does your congregation have a declared mission? What difference is your church making in the lives of other people? What will your legacy be?
How does our church fit into God’s plans?
What makes your church special, reflecting God’s special work in your midst? Has he blessed you with ministries few other congregations offer? Do you have certain “magnet” ministries that pull in a steady stream of new members? Is your church overflowing with baptisms? Are you reaching a unique group or subculture of people (the homeless, the incarcerated, unwed mothers, families in crisis, at-risk teens, etc.) overlooked or ignored by other churches? Do you have a discipleship or missions program that regularly sends new missions workers into the spiritual harvest fields of the world? Are you a sacrificing, giving congregation? Are you a multiple generation family church of “rock of ages” members with deep roots in that one congregation? Does Christ shine in and through your members?
What brings people to our church?
Is it your great facilities, vibrant mid-week family programs, or your minister’s sermons? Are visitors attracted by the spiritual maturity of your members, or maybe by the congregation’s diversity in age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status? Do you know what your church is doing “right” to attract new members?
In presenting the facts and nature above I have almost consciously refrained from using bible quotations. They are the greatest sources of inspiration on leadership and management. Jesus Christ was and is by far the greatest leader of all times. He was so good that, even though he knew the nature of Judas Iscariot and what he will do to him, he still took him up and made him his accountant for one reason – ministry is about team work. Although members may have their faults, they also have a purpose and a place in the family of God. Again, management is not a one person affair. It is also not for amateurs and people who do not want to develop themselves for their congregation to benefit from. It is not too late – start now, with a prayer for God’s guidance.
Thank You All.
--Victor P. K. Mensah