Where does the power lie in your church? Using the word “power” isn’t very endearing in the church world, as the Christian answer is… “It’s Jesus.” Yes, we all agree. However, the reality is, at some point, every church faces the challenge of figuring out how to navigate the balance of power between the Senior Pastor, an Elder Board, lay leaders, strong-spirited members. It often gets messy and difficult.
Much like the grumblings we hear about our government, churches can be “dysfunctioning” the same way. (Yes, that’s a new word.) It’s no wonder why some surveys have 55% of pastors feeling discouraged. Ignoring the gridlock in your church, avoiding difficult people, and hoping it simply goes away is a recipe for remaining stuck.
Some questions to ask:
- Are all your stakeholders rallied around a common vision?
I have had far too many conversations with pastors who can’t articulate their unique vision from God to lead the church for the coming years. “Where there is no vision, [churches experience gridlock, factions, stagnation and inevitable decline] the parish will perish.”
- Is there a cancer that is not being addressed?
Is there an individual, a family, or small group that is causing division and has the elders and pastor walking on egg shells? Has the ministry slipped into autopilot mode? Are there crucial conversations that need to happen?
- Is there functional communication happening or do people feel left out?
Are meetings happening and are they effective? Is the vision being communicated clearly and strategically? Effective communication is hard. Poor communication, no communication, and a lack of a communication strategy all contribute to gridlock.
- Is your head buried in the weeds?
When’s the last time you or your team have looked up, taken a breath, and assessed where you’re going? Ministry can be a grind of week-in and week-out activity. It’s easy to get lost in the “how” and the whirlwind of ministry. We often lose sight of why we do what we do and certainly where we are headed. When was the last time you hit the pause button with your team? You may not be stuck but we know it can feel like you are simply going in circles.
If you’re experiencing gridlock, get help. Many pastors feel the pressure to be visionary when the reality is it’s a struggle for most. Find a strategic planning process that will include cross-functional engagement with staff, lay leaders and the senior pastor uniting around a new vision for the next run of ministry. We have the greatest mission on the planet, let’s get after it!