Thursday, April 18, 2013

Coaching Church Leaders During a Time of Change: Reflections

In two previous blogs, I shared the responses of Charity Roberson, Leadership Communities Coach on the Emerging Leaders team at the Virginia Baptist Mission Board on the philosophy and strategy behind her position.  Her comments led me to several observations.

First, people in most congregations know more than they are doing.  We have individuals who possess not only significant gifts and skills but also innovative points of view.  If they are not doing what they do best, what’s the problem?  Perhaps the structures that we insist on maintaining are getting in the way.

Second, people in our congregations want to be involved in decision making but they don’t want to waste their time on minutiae.  They want to help set the direction of the church and then get down to work.  They don’t want to be micromanaged.

Third, there are many people in our churches who have both a teachable spirit and want to share what they learn with others.  As Charity said, “A learning community is one in which each participant is not only teachable but also willing to teach others.” These folks want to live and serve in a learning community.

Fourth, although the people in our churches have unique strengths, they must be empowered and mobilized in order to use them.  This is the work of leaders.  Charity commented:  “Churches need leaders who can assess the strengths of the church and community . . . and find a way for each church to intentionally be faithful in their own unique and individual ways.”

Fifth, without a doubt we are stronger together than we are separately.  This is called synergy.  This is the genius of the Body of Christ.  Charity nailed it when she said, “[The key] is realizing that none of us have all of the answers and we all have to continually find new ways to grow.”

The bottom line is that in most churches, there is vast untapped ability and potential within the members, but it takes a special kind of leader to mobilize and release these strengths.  This requires a leader who understands that his or her primary role is to unleash and encourage God’s people to do God’s work. 

I wish Charity and others like her the best as they model this way of doing church.

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