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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

28 May '11

Courageous church leaders

Church leadership is not for the faint of heart, the easily discouraged or those who lack courage. Yet too often there is a failure of courage at critical junctures in church leadership and it can only be laid at the foot of leaders. What makes for a courageous leadership board?

They are willing to clearly define vision and direction knowing that clarity is critical even though some will not like the clarity. Many boards do not take the time to clarify and communicate clarity because it is hard work, first, and because they know that some will object, second. Yet, it is clarity that brings focus, alignment and direction so there is no true church health without clarity. This may involve making tough directional or ministry calls that upset a few. Process is important but courageous leaders will do what is right even when a few loud voices protest.

They are ready to stir the water at times to move the congregation out of their comfort zone and into a gospel centered ministry zone. All churches naturally revert back to their comfort zone where life is easy and the focus is on who is already in the church rather than who is outside the church without Christ. It is the job of leaders to ensure that the congregation is living out its Gospel mandate which will be inconvenient and uncomfortable at times. If the water is not being ruffled regularly you are living in the comfort zone.

They deal with divisive voices who would divide the congregation. Paul talks much to his friend Timothy about how to deal with divisive people who cause damage to the church. One thing he does not say is ignore them. They are foxes in the hen house and courageous leaders see them for what they are and lovingly but firmly deal with this sin that so easily divides.

They hold themselves to high standards. Leaders are to be above reproach not only in their own personal lives but in the way their interact with each other as a team. Courageous leaders call out behavior that is counterproductive to a healthy board and hold one another accountable for their unity, relationships and work together. 


They are candid and honest about the state of the church and its ministry. It is easy to ignore real issues and not evaluate the true state of the congregation. It takes courage to name the elephants and then deal with them. This must be done without a hidden agenda or personal attack but it must be done. If there are any elephants in the board that cannot be discussed there is a failure of courage.


They are people of hope and optimism that God can and will do something big through their people and congregation and so they dream big, plan big and expect God to show up. Why? Because they believe in God's plan and power and that He is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20)." It takes courage to believe in God's power and therefore step out to do great things for him and that is exactly what courageous leaders do.


Our world is driven by fear at many levels. Congregations often have leaders who are more fearful and cautious than courageous and bold. Failure of courage leads to failure of mission. Courageous church leaders infect their congregation with their optimism, courage, resolve, Gospel commitments and call them to live it out together.