Great AND Godly Leadership … In Small Churches
Last week, I had the joy and privilege (and it was truly both) of speaking at Truett Seminary. The class was a D.Min. seminar on leadership taught by Robert Creech and Terry York. The topic that afternoon was a discussion of my new book, In Pursuit of Great AND Godly Leadership. Even though I was there as the “expert,” this sharp group gave me plenty to think about.
All of the students are currently serving in churches, and none of their churches would qualify as a megachurch. In fact, most of their churches are relatively small. They asked a variety of questions about my book, several of which could be boiled down to this: “Most of the examples in the book are large, growing churches. Do you think that a pastor can only be considered ‘great’ if the church is large and growing?” Ouch.
That is certainly not what I believe. In fact, the best definition of great is to faithfully follow God’s call in one’s life, which is something I tried to communicate in the book. You can find great leaders in many small or struggling churches. Great leadership will normally result in fruit, but average worship attendance is only one kind of fruit (and sometimes it’s rotten when you cut into it, but that’s for another blog). So what else could demonstrate great leadership?
- In a church that has a history of conflict and short-tenured pastorates, a new pastor confronts the problem, helps them address unhealthy behavior, and is still there after 5 years.
- A congregation grows from 120 to 90, but the people that remain are clear about the mission and are deeply committed to it.
- An ineffective but long-standing program is cancelled, and those who were serving in it are redeployed to externally-focused ministry.
- For a church in a transitional neighborhood, the lay leadership body shifts from being Anglo to reflecting the local ethnic make-up.
I’m glad that my new friends at Truett challenged me on this point. I trust that they, and many others who are reading this blog, will faithfully follow God’s call to great AND godly leadership, however that may be manifested in your ministry and your life.