My upcoming book, (Spring target launch date, sign up to my newsletter in the sidebar to get the latest updates and exclusive deals), includes a chapter on leadership structures in top heavy institutional churches. Using terminology and research from the business world, I highlight a reason why contemporary churches are in trouble–it has too many managers.
Most churches are led by a pastor with shepherd giftings. In fact, seminaries are designed to produce shepherds. In business nomenclature, shepherds (pastors) are the equivalent to managers.
Here’s the problem.
When it comes to innovation and propelling organizations forward to survive in new markets, managers can’t get the job done.
One of leading causes of failure in large corporations is great managers. You heard right, the most talented managers, wound up making problems worse. It turns out managers are built to maintain status quo, not to move organizations forward into new. They are trained to preserve the here and now and consequently don’t notice looming threats nor possess the the skillset to initiate change to survive them when they hit. Great managers find ways to keep the organization working amidst turmoil but won’t discover the source of the problem, nor methods of how to respond appropriately.
The best managers (pastors) are the ones that despite all odds, despite decline, find a way to make it work. That’s what they’re built to do. In Christendom, some of the most celebrated pastors of our generation are fantastic managers, lauded because they’ve built resiliency in a time of upheaval. What we don’t talk about is how survival today doesn’t ensure we thrive as a church tomorrow. For that we need to unlock different kinds of leaders.
Are we doing enough to develop strong voices in all of the gifts of the church (Ephesians 4). Are there prominent apostles leading change? Do we give platform to the voices of the prophets? Are these people in leadership positions? Or are we all sheep being led off a cliff by a glut of shepherds?