Orginally published on Monday, December 01, 2008 at 7:35 AM
by Alan E. Nelson
This fall, I left my friends at Group Publishing & Rev! Magazine and moved to the Monterey, CA area, to dive fulltime into leadership development. I’m appreciative of my friend, Todd Rhoades, for letting me continue a LeadingIdeas column as a part of MMI that I’ve enjoyed for years. Todd is an amazing info maven.
“If you want to change the world, focus on leaders. If you want to change leaders, focus on them when they’re young.” That’s the motto of a new organization we have launched called KidLead (http://www.kidlead.com). Although a majority of my new work involves investing in future leaders, I’m still interested in assisting pastors in getting their ministries to the next level. When a congregation gets stuck, it’s nearly always an issue of leadership, but perhaps not the way you think. What we’ve found in churches that have been on a growth plateau for at least three years, is that sufficient catalyzing leaders have left the church or become marginalized, so that they are not using their gifts in church. Michael Lindsay, in his research involving 360 interviews with high powered Christian leaders, noted that most were not highly involved in the local church because their best gifts did not seem to be welcomed or used.
There are four types of church leaders...
1. Relational leaders are the care givers and sales people of the world. They influence through their superior people skills. Relational leaders gain followers by genuinely caring for them. They are both introverts and extroverts, but they excel in making people feel good about themselves.
2. Teaching leaders have the power of communicating information that helps people gain knowledge. Many pastors are teaching leaders, as they enjoy investing 20-25 hours weekly in sermon prep and presenting. They are wearied by other ministry aspects, but love the task of preparing to feed the flock.
3. Managerial leaders are good organizers, tracking details, and following through on plans. They are the people who get things done, so long as there is something to be managed, maintained, or carried out. Managers make sure that the bills get paid and things get put where they belong. They are administrators and task oriented.
4. Catalyzing leaders are the pioneers and strategists. They are willing to take risks, problem solve, and make the tough calls where they need to happen. Because they are willing to step out in faith, they are sometimes spurned by others who grow weary of the full-speed-ahead attitude of these go getters. These are the Joshua’s and Calebs needed for Promised Land ventures.
While we need all four types of leaders in church, congregations that have gotten stuck nearly always have too few or in many cases, no catalyzing leaders left in places of influence. Barna suggests that over 90% of pastors are not catalyzing leaders, yet most pastors feel that leading the church is their ministry. No wonder over 85% of congregations are on a plateau or are declining. Perhaps it’s time for us to swallow our pride, repent for running off the catalysts, and seek their help. Begin by figuring out who around you may have the catalyzing leader gift and then offer to buy them a cup of coffee this week.
Alan E. Nelson
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