Team Collaboration: Broadening the Church Leadership Platform
Published on 3/7/2011
More examples are surfacing all the time of a new, two-pronged trend in church leadership. The first prong involves the importance of team leadership. Contrary to the traditional model that established the senior pastor as a soloist—the lone vision caster, communicator and directional leader—congregations today are shifting to more of a leadership band. It’s a flattened organizational structure that invites leadership teams made up of executive pastors, key implementers and other roles. Together they create and communicate vision, set strategic direction for the ministry, communicate that vision, and lead initiatives.
The second prong involves who those team players are. More of those leaders are coming from diverse business backgrounds vs. having formal ministry training. In addition, more women and emerging generational leaders are taking key seats at the table.
Jenni Catron left a budding career in the music industry to become executive director of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, where she leads the staff and oversees the ministry at five campuses—a key position of directional and strategic leadership in support of Lead Pastor Pete Wilson. “I’m excited to see a growing willingness to include women in top leadership roles within our church,” Jenni said in a recent interview.
Reinhard Ziegler at Fellowship Bible Church in Dallas, TX likewise comes from a marketplace background –and also comes as a high-capacity volunteer. With a doctorate in cognitive psychology and a background in leadership of a global technology consulting firm, Reinhard serves in the role of Chief Navigator on Fellowship Bible’s senior staff in Dallas. Tommy Shelton, his supervisor is on paid staff as the church’s executive pastor, and comes from a legal and international management background. He learned the ministry ropes doing missionary work and on the job by attending conferences and learning from others in similar roles.
Mary Carroll, an attorney, is executive director for the 6,600-attendance Hosanna! Lutheran in Lakeville, MN . In Hosanna’s leadership structure, staff pastors report to lead pastor Bill Bohline for vision, theology, pastoral leadership, and worship, while Mary leads the group in the areas of strategic planning, performance management, resource allocation, and process integration.
Mary points out that she and the lead pastor are opposite personality types and have different Gallup Strengthsfinder themes. “We approach situations differently and complement each other well,” Mary says. “The model works very well because it allows Pastor Bill to focus on the highest priority matters that only he can do.”
These five people represent a trend that Christianity Today tabbed as the “holistic church staff” in an excellent article by David Fletcher, founder of XPastor.org for executive pastors. In this approach major leadership responsibilities once reserved for the top-level leader are being shared and distributed based on skills and experience.
Team Collaboration: Broadening the Church Leadership Platform is the March theme for 11 for 11: Ideas that Work.
You can explore further how churches are flattening their leadership structures, and folding non-traditional leaders into key roles in “Team Collaboration: Broadening the Church Leadership Platform”—a resource in three parallel formats (see links below). It explores trends, predictions, questions and resources that are guiding some of America’s leading congregations.
Sherry Surratt is the Director for Leadership Network’s RadicalFuture Innovation Labs
Wayne Smith is the Director of Leadership Network’s Life Stage Leadership Communities for long tenured, large church senior pastors who are in their 40’s and 50’s.