Leading the Smaller Congregation – Part 6

As we said in our last blog, team leadership is the best choice for the smaller congregation. Let’s rejoin those thoughts…

Another reason team leadership works best in the smaller setting is that in most cases, the current pastor hasn’t been around for much of the church’s journey. In fact, there are times when the pastor may be the newest member of the leadership group. And if enough history precedes his arrival, it can take a number of years before his influence will equal or exceed that of leaders who’ve been at the table for years.

A pastor who hasn’t lived the church’s history can easily misunderstand core components of that history and how to address them wisely. Since there may be many different perceptions of key historical moments, especially difficult ones, it can be very difficult for the pastor to help people overcome those past elements because some will think he doesn’t really understand them.

In a larger church, a leader’s influence can quickly be built with results. But in the smaller church, such results are often very difficult to achieve. Here, influence is built by personal trust. When people feel understood and cared for, they allow that trust to grow. As you can imagine, this means it will often take longer to establish such influence.

But in a team leadership model, the wisdom and trust established by long-term leaders can be a great asset to you as the pastor. And they can really benefit from your ability to think outside the status quo and provide a needed freshness for the church. In partnership together, the best of both worlds is possible.

Of course, the established leaders and the pastor need to understand the unique benefits they bring to the team. An environment of mutual respect and appreciation for each other is critical, and when it happens, there’s no limit to what might occur.

Simply put, in the smaller church the pastor and the established leadership need each other. Potentially, they offer both sides of a coin, the full leadership equation for the church.

Conversely, if they fail to work together, either side will quickly discover that they lack everything they need to lead effectively. Pastors and established leaders who resist one another, thinking their contribution is the most critical, usually end up undermining one another’s value. A pastor who is convinced of the changes a church needs often can’t lead the church in that direction without the influence and congregational insight of established leaders. At the same time, leaders who resist the pastor’s leadership reveal that they lack the necessary capacity to lead in all areas. Their well-intentioned efforts begin looking like a desire to control.

So, bottom-line–you need each other. Working together is the path to greatest effectiveness so whatever issues stand in the way of such efforts must be removed. Failing to do so means you won’t go forward.

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