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Why Lead With A Team?

Are you or your pastor surrounded by a capable team? Why or why not?

When we first began developing inventories and tools to measure church health and effectiveness, we knew that we would be most helpful if we focused on churches that were led in a team fashion. In other words, we find that churches with a single dominant pastor who goes to the top of the mountain and returns with the commandments without the input of a leadership team works best only if you’re Moses.

Our observation is that churches functioning with that model don’t survive long-term.

So what do we mean by team leadership? We’re not disparaging any “leader among leaders” (or “chief elder of elders”) approach. Or that every decision has to be democratically voted on. Whether you take a co-senior pastor approach, a no-senior pastor approach, or consensus leadership is not the issue. Rather, this is about having a team that owns the big picture, the mission/vision/values of the church, and unilaterally feels the weight of leadership decisions. And regardless of how a decision on a particular issue is made, everyone should leave the room feeling heard in the discussions, satisfied that alternate solutions were explored, and with a sense of shared ownership.

In Acts 15, James (the brother of Jesus) seems to emerge as the “elder among elders.” The issue at hand was the critical decision on how gentiles—who were experiencing the Holy Spirit—would be assimilated into what began essentially as a Jewish cult following the claim that their messiah had come back from the dead! After what must have been a vigorous debate, they settled on a solution and sent messengers to deliver the news—even using the language “we all agreed” on who would deliver the unified solution. The Kingdom subsequently increased exponentially.

In our thinking, a team-based leadership approach is absolutely critical for healthy organizations. It’s not effective for one person to solely carry the leadership-weight of shepherding a church. Proverbs 15:22 reminds us that, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” But beyond sheer advice, a unified sense of responsibility and ownership on decision-making and follow-through are invaluable.

Even in smaller churches with a handful to no paid staff, it is still imperative to recruit and develop a volunteer high-powered leadership team. These are more than “worker bees.” They have capacity and a legitimate hand in decision-making and responsibilities…precisely because of Proverbs 15:22 and the assumption there that planning is critical. Or as the old adage says, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”

The Elemental Churches Inventory and stand-alone tools are specifically designed to nurture leadership team development and growth through group exercises, curricula, and assessments. Whether it’s our resources or any others’, we cannot encourage enough that churches should do everything they can to build real leadership teams and get resources to develop them.

Dave Workman | Elemental Churches

Question of the Day: What will you do today to begin to develop a true leadership team at your church?


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