I was contacted recently by a media group in California that is merging with several other companies. The business leader was recently part of a strategic planning retreat that our team facilitated with his church. Given the transition happening in his business, he recognized that now was the time to seek some outside counsel for his business as well. That investment (which takes both time and money) is just a normal part of doing business.
Stuck churches, on the other hand, don’t commonly seek outside counsel. The reasons vary.
Some believe the collective wisdom of those already on the team should be enough to help them turn things around. That’s understandable, but it’s also a symptom of pride.
Others are fearful of the changes an outside advisor might initiate. For them, the pain of their “stuckness” is not as great as the pain they sense may result from change.
For others, it’s a case of trying to be financially frugal. They don’t want to spend the money. Of course, they don’t realize that a relatively small investment in wise counsel will, many times, pay off in health and growth and, as a result, positively impact the financial bottom line.
I’ve shared with others that my team at The Unstuck Group is not short of capable, experienced people who could facilitate strategic planning for our organization. However, through the years, I’ve continued to invest time and money to bring in outside counsel to help us sharpen our strategy and increase our impact.
Empowering Others to Lead
“Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12, NLT)
A friend of mine is the owner-operator for a popular restaurant chain. I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate strategic planning conversations with his team a couple of times over the years as they moved from one location to two. One of the things that has impressed me most about his leadership is that he recognized he needed shift how he led others.
For many years, he was in his restaurant all the time calling many of the shots. When he wasn’t directly involved in managing others, his unspoken influence was almost always present. The problem, of course, is that when you are the person who has to make all the decisions, you limit the growth that your organization can experience.
In order for him to expand to multiple locations, he recognized his leadership style needed to shift. He needed to raise up and empower other leaders to start managing the team and making the decisions. Since then, he’s multiplied his business by being intentional about multiplying his leaders and releasing responsibility to others.
It’s a biblical principle: equip others to do the work. Yet I can’t tell you how many stuck churches I walk into where the pastors and the staff leaders are the ones who are actually doing all the ministry. It’s a clear biblical mandate for church leaders, yet many ignore this “job description” outlined in God’s Word. They try to do it all themselves instead. Why does that happen?
Some church leaders hold on to doing all the ministry themselves because that’s what they’ve always done.
Through the years they’ve gone from volunteer to part-time staff to full-time staff to being in positional leadership, but they’ve never developed the necessary skills to lead and empower others.
Others hold on to doing it themselves because it’s easier… at least in the beginning.
Finding someone. Training someone. Managing someone. Coaching someone. That all takes time. In the long run, you can do more by releasing responsibilities to other people. In the short run, though, it takes more time.
Some church leaders don’t empower others because they think they can do it better themselves.
That may be true for today, but you can’t increase your long-term impact while doing everything yourself (even if you think you can do it better).
I can tell you from personal experience that empowering other people is not easy. I’ve held on to way too much for way too long. A good example of that from recent years was bookkeeping. I have a business degree. I’ve had accounting courses. I can do basic bookkeeping. Was it the best use of my time leading a growing team? Absolutely not. But it’s what I had always done. I was doing just fine tracking all the numbers and it was initially harder (and more expensive) to hire someone else to do it. It’s a good example, though, of how not empowering others limits the growth of an organization.
What are the biblical practices that businesses embrace and your church tends to avoid?
Do you routinely seek wise counsel when you’re planning your next steps? Do you equip and empower others to do the ministry? If not, it may be time for your church to start operating like a business by engaging these biblical practices which are foundational to experiencing health and growth.