By Carey Nieuwhof
There are five ways leaders stunt the growth of their organization: they decide to run everything, lead everything, control everything, attend everything, or attempt to know everything. Often, leaders move through each step of this progression, and at each step cause the growth of the church to be limited by how much they try and do.
Effective leaders don’t do these things. More accurately, effective leaders only do these things for a season. For example, in a church plant the lead pastor often must run everything because there is no one else to do it. But that entrepreneurial spirit only works when the church is still a “start up,” otherwise growth will be limited to the effective reach of the pastor.
Why do so many leaders get stuck in these places? Here are three reasons.
Confusion happens because the vision and mission are not clear enough to empower a team. Everyone may agree on them, but they all attempt to accomplish them using a different strategy. You can tell people you want to reach the lost, minister to and love your neighbor, and support missions all you want, but we all have a different picture of what that looks like. Everyone’s ideal church picture is different. As a pastor, your job is to align those pictures by providing clarity beyond mission and vision. You must provide values and strategy.
This occurs when what you do has become essential to who you are. You want to do all things, be all places, and be the hero of every story. You have elevated yourself above the mission. Oftentimes, we end up in this mindset more than we would like to admit.
Loss of Mission
Saying “my mission” instead of saying “our mission” results in a loss of the mission altogether. When we say that we are more important than what God wants to do in the community, our church suffers and growth stops. Ask yourself if you are okay to stand in the backstage area while someone else receives the credit for something. It is important to remember that God doesn’t want what started with you to end with you. Who will take over for you? You are not more important than the mission.
When these three things are no longer issues in a church, then the church is primed for growth. Relying on the lead pastor in all facets inhibits the church and causes burnout, while never seeing the desired expansion or multiplication. The lid on the growth of the church is you. Learn how to let go of responsibilities so that your mission can be realized.
Adapted from Pipeline West 2018. To learn more about how to lead your church and establish a leadership pipeline for development, check out our free Ministry Grid courses Introduction to Leadership Pipeline and Leadership Pipeline Competency Overview.