When it comes to leadership, the Church should be leading the way in effectiveness and best practices. Sadly, this often is not the case. In fact, too often it is the very opposite – Church leadership is hobbling behind when it comes to leadership practices.
So what would it look like if the Church was the place where effective leadership practices were found? I think it would be a beautiful thing. I think it would be God-honoring. Let’s jump in to see the 7 practices of effective church leadership teams.
7 Practices of Effective Church Leadership Teams
1. Practice Trust
Effective church leadership teams have a foundation of trust within their team. I’m privileged to be able to serve on a team where trust is primary.
Church leadership teams should always default to the place of trust. When there are tough decisions to be made and the majority of the team is advocating for one solution and you’re advocating for a different one, trust must take over. If you’re in the minority, share your ideas and try to persuade if you must. However, at the end of the day, trust that the decision that is made was the decision that was supposed to be made.
If your church leadership doesn’t practice trust – first and foremost – then the rest of these practices will be pointless.
Without trust, your church leadership team cannot be effective.
2. Practice Transparency
Effective church leadership teams share what’s on their hearts. In no meeting, in no discussion, in no circumstance, should anyone on your team leave without voicing their mind.
When you have a team that doesn’t practice transparency, you may think you are operating from a place of trust, but you’re really just operating from a place of cowardice.
Effective church leadership teams say the hard things and they work through issues openly and honestly. Without this, you’ll have splinters in decisions after decisions are already made.
3. Practice Alignment
Effective church leadership teams practice alignment. They don’t practice consensus. In other words, there will be decisions made where not everyone is concurring. But everyone, at the end of the day, must be aligned with the overall direction.
If someone on the team doesn’t agree with a specific idea, they must still agree with the direction. If they do, they’ll jump on board with the specific idea because they are aligned.
Effective church leadership teams are rowers in the same boat. They all must be headed the same place – together. Even if one wants to take a left turn and the others want to take a right turn, the one must align with the rest and contribute to that right turn.
4. Practice Risk
Effective church leadership teams take risks when it’s right to do so. I almost called this the practice of faith, but too often people don’t associate them together. So let’s go with risk.
There are times when great church leadership teams are presented with a few options – one being a high risk, high reward, God-sized option. These teams understand that God is bigger than their idea of a God-sized risk. Even when they take risk they understand that, if it is in the will of God and bathed in prayer, they can be confident in going forth into the unknown.
At the end of the day, your church leadership will either be risk takers or they will be risk avoiders. I don’t believe there is a middle ground. All throughout Scripture and history since, God has called people to the place of risk, to the place of faith.
5. Practice Stewardship
Effective church leadership teams manage God’s resources well. They take risks when they should, as we just discussed, and they invest in the future when they should. They see stewardship as something that is vital in every area of church life and with every resource the church has.
Stewardship, for these teams, includes finances, but they also include people’s gifts, time, and passions. Instead of simply asking people to serve, they equip people to serve in the area of their gifts and passions. They see the second part of that equation as non-negotiable. They see that every person is gifted by God to contribute to the expansion of His kingdom.
These church leadership teams challenge and stretch their people in every area of life. They love them well. They use the church’s financial resources in high impact areas so that no dollar is wasted. They send money to missions, but also invest the time necessary to make sure their missions money is being used for God’s glory.
6. Practice Clarity
Effective church leadership teams are clear at all times, even when they are unsure of something.
A few months ago, I was driving home, listening to Dave Ramsey – which I do often. He was in a segment where he was sharing some leadership principles and that’s when he said something that will always stick with me. This is what he said:
To be unclear is to be unkind. – Dave Ramsey
He talked about the fact that great leaders – and great teams – are clear even when they are unsure. In other words, they are clear about the fact that they are unsure. That statement, actually, is a team motto for everyone who works in his company. If someone is being unclear, they are being unkind. Why? Because when you don’t have clarity, confusion settles in. And confusion is no place you want to be – especially as a team.
Effective church leadership teams are clear about the vision, values, and decisions of the church. They are clear on what God is calling the church to – even when they are unsure. In other words, when they’re unsure, they say it.
7. Practice Failure
Great church leadership teams fail. Yes. That is correct. They fail.
Teams who are afraid of failure will accomplish absolutely nothing in the economy of the kingdom of God. Why? Because the economy of the kingdom is driven by faith. A church leadership team’s degree of faith is their degree of resources in the kingdom of God.
Effective teams learn to fail forward. They take risks, as we talked about above, but sometimes they fail. And that’s okay. They learn from their failures and, in turn, fail forward. They don’t want to fail, but they are not afraid to fail. They make decisions in prayer and act on the things they believe to be in the will of God.
If your team wants to be effective, they have to learn to fail well. And the only way you can do that is to do something that could result in failure.
After all, you know this to be true in your own life – God teaches you a ton in the midst of your failures. I think the same can be true for your team.
What would you add?
How about you? What would you identify as practices of effective church leadership teams?