What Do We Expect of Our Church Leaders?

Posted on 6/6/2011 by Jeff Stiggins

It may seem a long time until the Lay Leadership Committee starts doing their work in preparation for Charge Conferences . . . and that’s exactly why I want to invite you to consider this question now: What are the minimal expectations which your congregation has for its leaders? For many, the primary requisite is willingness to serve. In other words, “If asked, will Bill say, ‘Yes’?” But what if your congregation established clear minimal prerequisites for the core leadership of your church? In this post, I’d like to suggest several qualifications for consideration. 

 
Lease some say that setting qualifications for leadership is odd, let’s remember that in Acts we read that the early church set qualification for choosing a replacement for Judas, and that in I Timothy 3 Paul lists qualifications for overseers and deacons. Here are five qualifications for your prayerful consideration which I’ve seen congregations adapt for their leadership:
Spiritual Vitality: Is this a person who is seeking to grow spiritually and is spiritually matureI’m not suggesting a Mother Teresa standard of spiritual maturity, but too often we immediately assume that because someone is a leader in business they will make a good leader in the church. The church has a different set of commitments, values and priorities. Sometimes the decisions which make sense in terms of the world, come out differently in terms of the Kingdom of God. Someone who is a brand new disciple or who has not been involved in church for years may not be ready for church leadership. Church leaders ought to be committed to leadership in a community committed to helping people get to know and follow Jesus and to join Jesus in ministry in the world that makes a Kingdom difference. Leaders in the church should both understand what this means and be committed to it personally. 
Congregational Engagement: Is this person positively engaged in the life of our congregation?  Asking people to be in leadership should not be a strategy for helping them gain a sense of belonging in the church. Instead, it should be one expression of the reality that someone already belongs to the congregation (and by belonging here, I’m talking about much more than membership). Is it okay for someone to be in leadership that seldom attends worship? Is it okay for someone to be in leadership who is brand new to the congregation and really doesn’t know people or the culture of the congregation?   If your congregation encourages everyone to be in a small group or to be involved in a ministry to others, is it okay if a leader does not? 
Demonstrated Leadership Ability: Has this person demonstrated the capacity for leadershipWe don’t encourage people to sing in the choir who can’t sing, why would we consider inviting someone to assume a position of leadership that can’t lead? While every person can learn to improve their leadership skills, there are some very fine people whom God has not wire up to be leaders. They may be great team players; they may be effective doers, but they are not equipped to lead. Some people have never effectively led in any arena in their life and seek to gain power in a congregation. Please don’t hear me say that we shouldn’t mentor and coach people to become more skilled leaders. I do think it is wise, however, to look for the evidence of effective leadership in a person’s life if they are going to be asked to play a significant leadership role in the church
A Biblical Way of Living: Does this person’s lifestyle and relationships reflect Kingdom values?  Does this person’s lifestyle reflect basic biblical values? I wrestled with this once when one of the leaders of our congregation moved in with someone without being married. Another time, a leader in our congregation received his second ticket for driving under the influence. Some people have a knack of getting things done and leaving a wake of people who feel manipulated, caste aside or run over. Does this person get things done in a way that builds community or rips its fabric asunder? 
Generous Proportional Giving: Is this person tithing or giving proportionally and committed to stepping towards tithing?  I once served a church where I discovered that two members of the finance committee did not give a cent to the church, according to the giving records. If a person’s personal stewardship does not reflect their commitment to Christ, why would we want to entrust them with the responsibility of helping the church make decisions that reflected our faith in Christ? It has also been my experience that people who do not give to the congregation have a low commitment to both Christ’s mission and the congregation. 
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Blessings,
 
Jeff       
 
Dr. Jeff Stiggins
The Center for Congregational Excellence
 
 
 

 

Comments

1. Russ Graves wrote on 6/7/2011 12:00:00 AM
Amen.
2. Gary Sargent wrote on 6/7/2011 10:02:10 AM
Great! I would add: The ability to work effectively with, but not subserviant to, the Pastor(s).
3. Holly Boardman wrote on 6/7/2011 11:03:26 AM
I would also like to suggest that the pastor review such guidelines with the leadership every year before the leadership decisions are made. Leaders should have the option to resign a position quietly and discretely if they no longer meet these miniumum qualificationos.
4. Holly Boardman wrote on 6/7/2011 11:24:55 AM
oops...I'm glad we don't expect perfect spelling. Leaders should be permitted to resign discreetly...
5. Holly Boardman wrote on 6/7/2011 11:36:57 AM
and minimum...(can I blame my new glasses for this?)
6. W. C. Scott wrote on 6/7/2011 1:25:30 PM
Jeff Sadly to say the congregation I am presently serving expects a lots of me. Even when I want to take time to show them how to do it; I meet resistance. This will certainly be an uphill battle because I do not presently have people who are willing to learn something new. This is why I am trying to teach my congregation Scriptural Holiness. God bless you ...
7. Lana Siak wrote on 6/8/2011 6:48:50 AM
Leadership is an act of commitment. It demands keeping the faith and hope alive especially in frustrating times. Leaders should possess the ability to carry out their responsibilities once they offer their services to serve the Lord. Leaders who are spiritually matured would be a plus. Lana Siak Chair, Church Council Lay Delegate at Large Orlando
8. Russ Graves wrote on 6/8/2011 10:16:32 AM
It must begin with the, individual who would lead, understanding God's call on his or her life and a willingness to be obedient. As laity, to many of us have, as I said in the laity session at annual conference,(like Elvis left the building). We must begin by partnering with the pastor to focus on making disciples, investing our lives in the life of another.
9. WC wrote on 6/8/2011 11:02:47 PM
Leadership is more than something that automatically goes with an official title like Dad, Mom, Pastor or teacher. For those that wish to lead must first become good examples.
10. Elaine Jones wrote on 11/13/2013 12:10:07 PM
The church leader (pastor) of the church is to deliver God's word to the people to help them live a fruitful life and be ready when Jesus Christ comes again.

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