Be a Leader, Not a Manager

The church today doesn’t need any more managers. Over the past few decades the church has had people who cared for and made sure the current plans were set in place and funded. These are managers. Frankly, most pastors and church staff are managers because they like getting a paycheck, so staff members tend to stay in the comfort zone of the church members.

This has created the church we have today in America: well-tended and well-intentioned organizations. They have been managed. You might even say that these churches have been managed to death; churches did what church members wanted and stayed within the boundaries of the usual and customary, only rarely pushing out into the deep (usually after much study and having a church member or two champion this idea). Churches are declining. Younger generations do not care for well-managed churches; churches need leaders.

In Deep & Wide, Andy Stanley writes the following (I could post all of Chapter 14, but this is a sample):

The primary reason churches cling to outdated models and programs is that they lack leadership. For an organization to remain vision-centric, it must be led by a vision-centric leader or leaders. Problem is, church boards rarely recruit and hire leaders. They recruit and hire pastors, preaches, and teachers. Then they expect those pastors, preachers, and teachers to lead. But pastors, preachers, and teachers are trained and gifted in … you guessed it … pastoring, preaching, and teaching. In most churches, the man or woman who carries the preaching responsibility is expected to carry the mantle of leadership as well. This is true whether he or she is gifted and trained to lead or not.

Pastors, preachers, and teachers who are not gifted in the area of leadership default to management. Best-case scenario, they take what’s handed to them and nurture it, protect it, defend it, and in some cases, improve it. Worst-case scenario, they focus on pastoring, preaching, and teaching, and delegate key leadership decisions to committees. They are reticent to move outside the lines they were hired into. It’s neither intuitive nor comfortable for them to abandon the approach they inherited in order to lead out in a new direction. Consequently, they end up married to the model they were hired into.

Churches are craving excellent leadership, but churches are fearful of it too. This means leaders need to lead wisely and strategically. As often as I can, I tell men and women who are getting started in ministry that the church doesn’t need any more managers; it needs leaders. I plead with them to be leaders and not settle for mere management. Management has its place and is necessary, but there is a vacuum of leadership which desperately needs to be filled.

Please, please, please – be a leader.

Lead On!