Leadership Axioms for Healthy Congregations

Here are some foundational leadership principles passed on to me related to ongoing congregational health and mission. How have these manifested themselves in your personal ministry? In your lay leaders? In your congregation?

  • Leadership definition: 

“Leadership is the process by which a man or a woman, guided by the Holy Spirit, influences a group of God’s people to accomplish God’s purposes for that group.”  Bobby Clinton 

  • “Unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain. “ Ps. 127:1
  •  “The church does not have a mission; the mission has a church.” David Bosch
  • “Almost everything rises or falls on leadership.” John Maxwell
  • “The key role of leaders in the church is to discern and do the will of God.”                         Ruth Haley Barton
  • Prayer should mark every step of leadership’s assessment, discernment, development, execution, and evaluation of their mission.
  • Self-Awareness: “If you attempt to act and do for others or for the world without deepening your own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity to love, you will not have anything to give others.  You will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of your own obsessions, your aggressivity, your ambitions and your delusions and ends . . .” Thomas Merton
  •   “Leadership is much more an art, a belief, a condition of the heart, than a set of things to do. The visible signs of artful leadership are expressed, ultimately, in its practice.”-Max Depree
  • “There is no vitality without reality.” John 8:32- “You shall know the truth” – that’s reality – “and the truth shall set you free” – that’s vitality.
  • First role of leadership- to define reality.” Max Dupree
  • “Healthy congregations are clear about what is and what is not beneficial to their well-being. Less healthy congregations will allow more fuzziness, indecisiveness, vagueness, and secrets or disguises.” Peter Steinke
  • Culture trumps Everything! … Culture can sabotage our best plans, our most loving acts….. Culture Trumps everything…   Leaders shape and reinforce culture. “If you have not changed culture, you have not changed anything, no matter what you do.” Peter Drucker
  • Culture: the combination of what you create and what you allow.
  • Culture is like carbon monoxide- you can’t see it, you can’t smell it, one day your dead!
  •  “If you want transformation, you must change who you are—how you think and what makes your heart beat.  You must make sure the heart stuff comes first.  A transformation of environment happens when church leaders embrace the shift in their heart, model it in their lives and passionately disciple their congregations to become likewise.  You don’t make a culture shift simply by working harder at the things you are currently doing.” Robert Lewis & Wayne Cordeiro
  • “Urgency is key! A positive, prophetic urgency about a sense of purpose or direction toward which God is pulling the congregation.” George Bullard
  • Adaptive Leadership Challenge: Keeping an organization in a productive zone of disequilibrium is a delicate task; in the practice of leadership, you must keep your hand on the thermostat.  If the heat is consistently too low, people won’t feel the need to ask uncomfortable questions or make difficult decisions.  If it’s consistently too high, the organization risks a meltdown. Ronald Heifetz
  • It takes a healthy missional pastor to lead a healthy missional church.
  • It takes healthy missional lay leadership to lead a healthy missional church.
  • Developing Leaders:
    • Enlist People Properly.
    • Equip People for the Task.
    • Empower Them for the Task.
    • Encourage Leaders as They Work.
    • Expect Good Work.
    • Evaluate.  Assessment promotes continued growth & development of leaders and ministry. Chuck Gartman

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