Some of the content of this article is taken from Dr. Dan Reiland’s free monthly e-newsletter ‘The Pastor’s Coach’ available at www.INJOY.com.
Sometimes the barriers keeping us from reaching more people aren’t how we do things, but how we think about life at our church. Consider the following:
• Change the perspective on how the pastor is perceived, from chaplain to change-agent.
Just before I became pastor of Maranatha Worship Center, the church’s district leadership asked the church board if they wanted a leader or a chaplain. I found this question to be quite interesting and have since come to understand its important intent. Unless the church board would allow a new pastor to lead them–really lead them–their future would remain on its bleak course.
As Dan Reiland notes…It is very common for the pastor of a church under 100 to be viewed more as a chaplain than a change-agent. This is particularly true if the church has a long history, with a number of pastors over the course of that history, who have been hired by a board consisting of long term members. The chaplain perspective is one in which the church views the pastor as responsible to respond to any number of their needs.
Reiland is on target with this analysis, underscoring an attitude that can develop when a church board has gone through the process of “hiring” a pastor or two. They now see a relationship with their pastor as more of “employer/employee” and often struggle to let go of such an authority role for the church.
Reiland continues…In the chaplain scenario, the board or a few key families run the church and the pastor is hired and directed by them to complete their picture of a church. In this scenario, and others similar to it, I can tell you that the church is not likely to grow beyond 100 people. The pastor must step up to become the leader (change-agent) and the board or key families must give the pastor true permission to do so.
Of course, this transition will not come quickly. If, as pastor, you are planning to force changes at the next board meeting, your address may be what changes. The slower but wiser approach is to win their followership by making small changes that benefit the church. These small changes will earn you the needed influence to begin making larger changes. Remember, you are not attempting to diminish their influence or remove them from leadership (you can’t). You are trying to increase your influence and effectiveness.