How To Choose Leadership In Your Church

When forming a leadership team in your church, choose non-representative governance! WHAT??!!

This statement may seem scandalous for those who live in a representative democracy, and certainly, most leadership teams combine members representing either departments (adults, children, worship, outreach, etc.) or segments of the congregation. Yet, in my book, Made to Flourish: Beyond Quick Fixes to a Thriving Organization, I highlight why this method may not be the most effective means of forming a leadership team.

3 Reasons to Choose Non-Representative Governance

1. “the priority of the ‘good’ of the constituency displaces the overall good of the organization [church].[1]

Persons who represent their constituency, whether children, seniors, teenagers, Asians, etc., hold, as the first priority, the needs, opinions and hopes of their group, making it difficult to transcend to see the good of the whole, especially if there’s constrained resources.

2. “the leadership team may or may not be composed of people who actually have gifts related to leadership.[2]

In other words, constituent representatives may or may not be leaders. When establishing criteria for a leadership team, ensure a top priority is that women and men on the team are leaders. People follow them. Spiritual authority is conferred upon them.

3. “inevitably one constituency is deemed more important than others,[3] and therefore, teams decide in its favor.

I sometimes observe this in churches when wealthy persons or longstanding, important family members serve on the team. Or when the loudest person (the “squeaky wheel?”) who complains the most gets his way. (Come on! You know this is true!) Whatever the case, the concerns of a few dominate decision-making, which may, at some point, cause vision drift.

The mandate for a leadership team in a church is to lead the church toward the vision God has given. Yes, the diverse voices of all in the congregation must be welcomed, heard and valued. And the leadership team must ensure that all participate in the mission and vision to which God has called, but that is their function, to ensure mission, vision and values lived.

The mandate for a leadership team in a church is to lead the church toward the vision God has given Click To Tweet

How Should We Select Leaders?

Recently, I asked this question to a Young Life leader overseeing the continent of Africa, knowing that he and his team had long discussions about leadership selection and ongoing leadership formation. Upon reflection, they observed that women and men who lead people to the Lord and are already leaders in their churches, typically, assuming diligent training, became effective Young Life staff.

Think of effective leaders in your church. Why are they effective? Do people follow them in contexts of business, school, commercial enterprise, volunteer, church or other kind of work and service? Does it seem that members of the congregation confer spiritual authority on them? In other words, members listen to their wisdom, ask advice and seek their discernment.

In my next blog, I’ll continue the conversation regarding leadership team formation. Here’s a quote to trigger your thinking, “start well to do well as a team.”

Start well to do well as a team. Click To Tweet

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[1] Shelley Trebesch, Made to Flourish: Beyond Quick Fixes to a Thriving Organization, InterVarsity Press, pg. 131.

[2] Ibid., pg. 132.

[3] Ibid.

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Shelley Trebesch

Shelley Trebesch

Shelley G. Trebesch (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) has served as vice president for capacity development for Prison Fellowship International, as well as assistant professor of leadership and organization development at Fuller Theological Seminary and in Singapore as global director for Membership Development for OMF International. An active consultant, trainer and seminar leader, Trebesch has facilitated complex change processes and developed leadership curricula for churches and organizations around the world.
Shelley Trebesch

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