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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.

13 Oct '09

When everyone is in charge, no one is in charge

Posted by T.J. Addington in church boards, church leadership, missional

I recently visited a congregation that has a lot of health in many ways - except in its leadership paradigm. It is a congregation of about 320 with a 50 member general board - although I doubt they ever get that many there. It is a labyrinth of boards and committees.

The pastor and several elders made the comment that no one is really in charge! It is in many ways leaderless apart from the fact that the pastor and elders seek to lead.

Unfortunately there are still tens of thousands of evangelical churches in this country - and elsewhere that operate like General Motors. Committees and boards galore, suffocating any ability of a group of truly qualified leaders to lead.

The result is ministry paralysis that prevents the church from making timely decisions or clarify ministry direction. This congregation has been plateaued at its current size for many years. It is unlikely to break through its barriers without rethinking and redoing its governance structure.

Often leaders don't tackle this issue because of a few loud voices who argue that to move away from a structure of multiple boards and committees is to rob the congregation of its involvement. They are right about one thing - God wants everyone's involvement. But they are wrong on the kind of involvement God wants of everyone. He wants everyone involved in meaningful ministry, not meaningless meetings!

The New Testament has a paradigm for leadership that looks nothing like the paradigm this church has. Actually this church's paradigm is that of the New England town hall, not Biblical leadership.

That is also why so many churches plateau and don't live missionally. Their structures keep them institutional rather than missional. How is your church doing?