What we do makes a difference

Here’s a great blog by Travis Stephens about the things growing churches do which are different from the rest. The direction a church takes is not inevitable – it involves choice. So which will you choose?

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2 thoughts on “What we do makes a difference

  1. Yes, indeed an excellent article, with one proviso.

    On the positive side 5 of the 6 recommendations fit perfectly with well-researched best practice in leadership and organisational development, or what I call Top 1% practice (based on how the Top 1%, most sustainably successful organisations behave). This is not rocket science, or divine inspiration as some might claim, but applied social/behavioural science and common sense.

    The item that troubles me is No 2 – growing churches empower the Senior Pastor to provide the vision and make the decisions. This flies in the face of Top 1% practice, UNLESS the Senior Pastor is a committed, dyed-in-the-wool Servant-Leader (hmm…where have Christians come across that concept before? Sounds strangely familiar….)

    Believe it or not, behavioural scientific research conclusively proves that the most effective leaders of the highest performing organisations are those who understand in their gut that they are servants first, leaders 2nd. How peculiarly, though not exclusively Christian?!

    I agree that churches run as self-serving bureaucracies are dying churches; indeed that is the basis of my iconoclastic challenge to the principle of ‘organised religion’. Christianity should be a radical, grass roots guerilla movement, not an institution. However, churches run on the cult of personality, or otherwise psychologically dependent on a charismatic leader, are also unsustainable. No individual has a monopoly on truth and righteousness. Top 1% research confirms the inevitable truth.

    I cannot put it any better than Jack Welch, the iconic former CEO of industrial giant GE:

    “When you become a leader you are not given a crown. Instead you get the responsibility for bringing out the best in others”.

    Amen. Great church leaders serve, and enable/empower others in turn to bring their skills and passion to church leadership, especially those who don’t see themselves as leaders in the conventional sense. That’s what creates vibrant, sustainably growing churches. It demands humility.

    • This first reply echoes exactly the reading that my wife has done as a school headteacher. Lots of school leadership writing is very ‘servant’ based.
      It seems such a shame that industry, schools, etc. recognise this but it seems not to be understood inside churches. Somehow doing things ‘well’ according to outside (research-based) values is seen to be ‘unspiritual’ and so is ignored. Quote from a minister I know: “I am a rubbish reader.”
      Perhaps an interesting question is how can non-ministers (i.e. ordinary members of a congregation) help break down this barrier – any ideas?

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