Why Leadership in Churches Matters
Effective church leadership is more important now than ever before. Cultural and spiritual landscapes in communities are changing at breakneck speed. Strong leadership is needed in order to adapt and evolve.
Churches need to compete with an ever-increasing number of distractions. Modern life is as hectic as it is challenging, and engagement in church activities is under pressure. But with effective church leadership in place, you can ensure the bond between congregants and their place of worship remains intact.
Donor engagement is one of the positive by-products of strong church leadership. But there are others. We’ve decided to examine the issue in more detail, starting with a look at what leadership looks like in most churches.
Church Leadership Structures
A church carries out several functions within the community it serves. And those functions stretch way beyond Sunday morning worship and the occasional social gathering. Modern churches offer career guidance, counseling, friendship circles, financial advice, and much more. All these community-based services need funding and organization, which means having the right leadership in the right places is essential.
Leadership hierarchies in churches vary, depending on a range of factors. According to the United Church of Christ, an effective leadership structure starts with the congregation. The most effective leaders are often churchgoers, so it makes sense to start there.
Pastors, ministers, priests, and administrators choose congregants to join a governing board. And that board selects suitable individuals to join committees — usually democratically. The most common committees include those for stewardship, fundraising, education, nurturing, and community outreach.
Church leadership needs to be organized in a way that serves both the congregation and the wider community. But leaders must take into account issues such as growth and cultural change. The best church leadership structures are able to manage these changes as and when they occur.
Get the right church leadership in place, and your congregation will reap several rewards.
According to Carey Nieuwhof, engagement will drive almost all your church’s future growth. Getting people to participate in your community is the key to growing your congregation — along with revenues. Simply getting them in the door is no longer working; we have to inspire, engage, and connect in new and increasingly innovative ways. And this starts with effective leadership.
A survey by Statista recently revealed that only 22% of people in America attend church regularly. And 28% of Americans never go. Unfortunately, engagement levels continue to fall every year.
But there is some good news. According to Pew Research Center, more than 81% of Americans want to become closer to God. Perhaps all they need is a little gentle persuasion.
Thankfully, there are a few tried-and-tested ways to increase engagement among churchgoers:
- Make passion contagious.
- Create an online community.
- Persuade congregants to bring friends and family.
- Involve congregants in worship and events management.
- Make churchgoing fun.
- Establish various communication channels.
- Make getting involved as easy as possible.
- Nurture relationships.
Strong church leadership is essential for increasing engagement. When you and your fellow leaders inspire others, engagement becomes infectious. And that’s when congregations begin to grow organically.
Successful fundraising in churches is directly linked to engagement. The more you engage your worshippers, the more likely they are to attend regularly. They’ll then spread the word, bringing friends and family with them.
Whether your church helps drug addicts to recover or feeds the homeless, you need a detailed strategy to achieve your goals. Are the right people performing the right functions? Are those people suitably motivated and qualified? Is there a plan in place to achieve goals and measure success?
Successfully reaching out to the wider community can help a congregation grow. But it requires strong leadership. Planning and preparation require a vision and the know-how to see it through. These attributes always come from the top.
A church that rests on its laurels is always on borrowed time. While your congregants should always be your priority, church leadership needs to think about the future. Only with strong leaders at the helm can your church broaden its appeal across the wider community.
According to the Association of Fundraising Consultants, all leaders “need a clarity of purpose” in order to achieve their fundraising goals. Leadership sets an example for everyone else within the church. When leaders take the initiative and set the expected standards, others follow.
A church’s leadership team should include congregants who have been successful in their chosen careers. Those in leadership positions should be capable of inspiring and engaging others. These qualities are infectious; they trickle down the hierarchical structures of churches. And when that happens, fundraising becomes a lot easier — almost organic.
But successful fundraising in churches also requires foresight and the tools for the job. Leadership must provide online and offline giving opportunities, as no one else will.
Building Trust Among Congregants
Effective church leadership builds trust, but only if you work at it. Good leaders are decisive, forthright, and compassionate. But they also know when to tell a few home truths. Jesus was a natural leader for all these reasons.
According to Lewis Center for Church Leadership, there are five key practices that create trust among a congregation. And all of them require strong church leadership.
- Create a welcoming, safe, and hospitable space for churchgoers.
- Always be willing to listen without prejudice or judgment.
- Ask honest, open-ended questions.
- Apply a theological perspective to stories and ideas.
- Explore and reflect on discussions with churchgoers from every possible point of view.
Again, leaders must lead by example in order to gain the trust of their congregation. And when the trust is there, more congregants invariably follow.
Helping People in Their Daily Lives
Life is tough, and congregants need to know that help is on hand when it’s needed most. If that help is always there, congregations remain loyal. And, over time, they grow.
Whether your leaders provide practical advice or spiritual salvation, being there when congregants reach out is crucial to the commercial viability of any church.
A critical role of any church leader is to encourage and motivate. Good church leadership keeps everyone focused on the needs of congregants. So when a member of the flock is lost, there’s always someone there to provide understanding and guidance.
All Sheep Need a Shepherd
Church leaders provide a different kind of leadership than CEOs, sports coaches, and line managers. They don’t give orders or demand loyalty; effective church leaders inspire others to follow.
Shepherds provide inspiration and encouragement to their flock. One of the by-products of this relationship is trust. But this requires empathy. A good leader is usually chosen because they understand the issues that affect ordinary people. Often, the best leaders feel like the people who follow.
But to instill loyalty to a church, a shepherd must guide, as well as preach. Effective church leadership is about showing congregants the way — rather than telling them how to live their lives. The leaders who strike this balance are the ones who inspire newcomers, often through word of mouth.
Take the Next Step Toward Delivering Strong Church Leadership
Good church leadership encompasses several areas. While providing spiritual guidance and doing God’s work will always be priorities, there are more practical issues to consider. To fulfill your duties to God, strong leadership in business and financial matters is more important than ever.
With church attendance declining, church leadership has to be attuned to the needs of ordinary people. Taking a holistic approach to managing a modern church is the best way to ensure your congregants keep coming back. But like any substantial endeavor, there’s a cost involved. And effective fundraising is the only way to cover that cost.
Schedule a Discovery Call with DonorWerx experts today. We’ll help you strengthen your church leadership credentials by fine-tuning your giving strategies.
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