When their pastor's tenure came to a sudden and disappointing end, members of First Church took the usual steps: they called an interim minister and formed a pastoral search committee. But then they took an unusual step: they created a leadership task force and directed its members to delve into such questions as "What's involved in leading this congregation?" and "What type of leadership do we need and will we support?"
First Church was off to a good start. There's a lot to be learned about leadership, both in the classroom and with on-the-job experience. Today there are many books and articles on congregational leadership. Seminaries have responded to the need and offer courses and even degrees in leadership. There are dangers, however, in overemphasizing leadership as a key to success. At the congregational level, members may begin to think that getting the right leader will magically fix a church's problems.
Anthony B. Robinson is president of Seattle-based Congregational Leadership Northwest and coauthor, with Robert W. Wall, of Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day (forthcoming from Eerdmans).