EFAC Australia

Church Leadership

Reprinted from the Autumn 1993 Edition of Essentials

This is the first in a series of practical articles designed to help parishes, incumbency committees and pastors to become more effective in extending God's kingdom. The other articles will cover topics including:

how to develop a parish profile
how to best interview a potential rector
how to form a short list and how to discern the right person
how to conduct a ministry review

In this article we will look at developing a job description or profile for your pastor.

Knowing that everything rises or falls depending on the quality of leadership in the parish, the work of the incumbency committee is therefore vital in selecting the best possible leader. In the previous article we looked at developing a ministry or job description for the vicar or rector. Here we will consider ways to present the vacant parish through the parish profile and the interviewing process.

1. How to prepare a parish profile

The parish profile needs to be prepared with clergy in mind. Most profiles are internal documents and often are confusing to the outsider. For example, one major parish asked me to look at their profile which had no information about the local community and no indication as to the size of the church membership or budget. It is wise to ask a sympathetic clergy person to read through the profile and make suggestions for improvement. Remember to be honest and as objective as possible. The profile should include concise information under these headings:

Paper presented at the 2006 National EFAC Conference

At a conference on "Growing Gospel Passions", my topic is Passion for Ministry – and I must say preparing this talk has made me sharpen my thinking about both passion and ministry. People who know me will say that I'm not a particularly passionate person (apart from the occasional shout at the TV when watching football) and as an adult convert I, to begin with, sort of drifted into ministry…

But over 25+ years of being involved in ministry and observing others in ministry, I have reached the conclusion that ministry and passion for ministry are all about our response to the grace and mercy of God – loving God and loving one another. Let me expand on that – first, by having a look at:

A. Passion

1. Definition - the what question

Passion – what is it? My dictionary says passion is: a very strong emotion; an intense enthusiasm for something – which is not all that helpful as it could describe what's going on in anything from a football crowd to a suicide bomber. It seems to me that words like passion and vision are bandied about pretty freely these days and its generally assumed we all know what we are talking about when we use them – but I must confess that I get a bit muddled at times. So, its been good for me to think through what passion is all about, in the context of ministry.

Reprinted from the August 1994 edition of Essentials

In the previous articles I have considered how to develop a ministry description for the vicar or rector, how to prepare a parish profile, how to write a philosophy of ministry, and how to interview candidates. In this article we will look at how to form a short list of potential candidates, and how to make the most of the interregnum.

Theology is everything
A leader's theology will make or break a church's spirituality and effectiveness. The basic issue is authority: we all resort to some ultimate authority. There are four possibilities for the Christian: rely on the teaching of the church and its councils over the centuries, rely on his/her own ability to understand the truth, rely on his/her own spiritual experiences as a form of direct revelation, or rely on the scriptures as God's authoritative word.

The wise committee seeking a new leader will discern the candidate's attitude to the Bible and to the priority of Bible teaching. This attitude will influence other commitments; for example, which training college was chosen, which missionary societies are given allegiance, the passion for evangelism and so on.

Practical principles for growing a congregation and being a transformational leader.

There is sometimes a real tension between biblical theology and some of the pragmatics promoted by proponents of Church growth. But there can also be a false dichotomy created between them, particularly by those who do not understand the difference between ministry and leadership.(1) To plant a new church successfully requires not only ministry by a godly and biblically-grounded person but also ministry by a leader with a certain set of gifts and abilities. It is also true that to renew and grow a small church in serious decline requires not only ministry by a godly and biblically-grounded person but also ministry by a transformational leader: someone who has acquired or will learn particular skills and is able to initiate a particular process.

If a leader wants their church to grow what do they do? Where do they start? Well there are no simple pre-packaged solutions but here is a set of principles to follow:

The leader has to accept responsibility and be accountable for growth or decline.