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Thinking and Acting Like a Leader

Posted: June 1, 2010 by Rob Voyle

Can your average parishioner tell you in 30 seconds or less what the mission of your church is?

For the past 50 years in the mainline church our applied theology for clergy has been chaplaincy training. It is great stuff, and is part of my personal heritage that I deeply value. What it did, was equip me to care for individuals as they experienced the trials and tribulations of life. What pastoral counseling and chaplaincy training didn't do was equip me to be a leader - to lead a group of people to accomplish a mission. While I was equipped to "walk with" individuals I was not equipped to lead a group of people to make a difference in their world. If we want to go from maintenance to mission and grow our churches then we will need to move from being chaplains of our congregations to leaders of our congregations. Please don't get me wrong, I think chaplains can be leaders, and I think the church is still in need of chaplains and their ministry but the "captain" of the congregation needs to be more than a chaplain, the "captain" needs to be a leader.

One of the first tasks of the leader is to help the community establish a clear, compelling, relevant, well articulated purpose, and once that purpose is established to continually remind the community what it is. In 25 years of doing church consultation, parishioners from only two churches have been able to tell me what their mission is. Not surprisingly they are both growing dynamic places. The fact that parishioners from other churches couldn't tell me their mission was not their failure, but a failure of leadership. Learning about Appreciative Leadership and managing change transformed my congregational ministry. It inspired me to start the Clergy Leadership Institute, to share with others what I have learned and what I believe the Church needs to meet the challenges of our day.

Rob Voyle

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