Who Does What? 5 Observations on Clarifying Leadership Roles

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Here’s what is on my whiteboard right now. I’ve been processing this because my sense is that there’s a lack of clarity about roles within the church. When that happens, it can lead to complexity and confusion for all involved. And, as you might guess, it’s one of the key reasons I see churches getting stuck.

Church Leadership Roles

Here are some specific observations I’ve had in working with churches through the years:

  1. Roles will overlap. Every team will at times need to take on the other roles listed. The problems develop, though, when a team spends the majority of their team assuming a role that belongs to another team.
  2. Leadership vacuums develop when a team doesn’t embrace their role. Organizations get out of whack when a team abdicates its responsibility and no one carries out that function. When that happens, people will try to fill the vacuum and it oftentimes pulls the church in an unhealthy direction.
  3. Every team is naturally pulled to execution. The comfortable place to live is in “doing” the work. It’s what we know. God’s design for the church is that those of us in leadership would equip God’s people to do the work of God. (See Ephesians 4:12) When we don’t follow God’s design, we won’t experience God’s fruit.
  4. The role that’s most commonly neglected is the strategy function. Senior leadership teams get bogged down in the urgent details of day-to-day ministry. They don’t invest enough time in strategic conversations to determine “How will we accomplish the vision?” Because of that, there’s a gap that leaves people guessing what needs to happen next.
  5. We tend to invest time and attention in the “task” roles but not the “care” roles. There needs to be a balance of both. We prioritize time and systems to complete the tasks. We also need to prioritize the time and systems to care for people with whom we have influence. This is where discipleship and leadership development happens.

I’m still processing this, so I could use your help. What have you learned on this topic? What would you add to the list? Do you agree that clarifying appropriate roles is a critical issue for church leadership teams? Join the conversation by sharing your comment.

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