Among the congregations I know, two challenges loom especially large for leaders: maintaining a clear focus amid competing agendas, and bringing about needed change when people are resistant or at best ambivalent about change. With that context in mind, here are ten rules of leadership, more or less in the order in which I learned them.
A year ago my wife took a leave from teaching middle school to enter a graduate program in school administration. I soon noticed that she and her colleagues were being assigned lots of reading on the topic of leadership, especially on the role of a leader in times of institutional change.
In Ephesus, Timothy walked into a congregational mess with the mandate to straighten it out. He inherited both the legacy (left by Paul) and the problems for which others (among whom were Hymanaeus and Alexander) were responsible. Like the tohu wabohu of Genesis 1:2, pastoral vocation doesn't begin with a clean slate.
If you are a member of one of the thousands of congregations or religious nonprofits that are in the middle of "strategic planning" or "visioning" or "long-term planning," this book is for you. If you have been waiting for a hands-on sequel to Robert Greenleaf's 1977 Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, wait no longer.
Money, power, sex--there are so many ways a pastor can go wrong. What defines a "bad" pastor? How should we respond when encountering one? This collection of essays gave me a new vocabulary for talking about clergy misbehavior. "Elite deviance" describes any unethical conduct by privileged people whose actions betray the nature of their field of service and their role in it.
Though the past quarter century has been a challenging, sometimes discouraging time for mainline congregations and their leaders, many positive things, often hidden from public view or statistical analysis, have been going on. Many mainline congregations have learned to see scripture afresh, have profited from more biblical preaching and have rediscovered the power and beauty of worship.
One figure concentrates the attention of Robert Edgar, chief executive of the National Council of Churches: $650,000. That’s the amount of cash the ecumenical organization must come up with every two weeks to meet payroll.
"It seems to me the mainline churches are set up institutionally not to
generate celebrity-status people, whereas evangelical churches, which
are likely to be independent and have an entrepreneurial minister,
almost breed celebrity status."
Each week pastors experience exhilarating opportunities and make agonizing decisions. Often the moments of decision erupt unexpectedly. There is no time to prepare. That was the case for Pastor Charlotte Robinson last fall at her church in Almond Springs, California.
Peter Rollins is a prominent figure in the Emergent church movement in the United Kingdom. Schooled in philosophy, with several degrees from Queens University in Belfast, Rollins is determined to revitalize Christian practice with a peculiar blend of self-critical Christian practice and theory. He works with a group called Ikon, which engages in “anarchic experiments in transformance art” and holds “theodramatic” events in pubs and on the streets of Belfast.