Is Leadership Spiritual?

March 31, 2006 by

Christianity Today has an interesting debate between North Point Community Church’s Andy Stanley and the author of Good to Great, Jim Collins. Well, it’s not so much a debate. Both are interviewed in the April issue of Leadership and some of their comments are pulled together into this teaser thinly disguised as an article. But the comments are still good.

The topic is leadership and whether or not there’s a spiritual aspect to it, which is very similar to our continuing discussions on marketing. The article seems to put Stanley and Collins at odds with Stanley saying good leadership is good leadership and Collins saying the church environment has special circumstances that a good business leader may not know. I think both are right.

Andy Stanley:

“One of the criticisms I get is ‘Your church is so corporate…’ And I say, ‘OK, you’re right. Now why is that a bad model?’ A principle is a principle, and God created all the principles.

“Churches should quit saying, ‘Oh, that’s what business does,’ That whole attitude is so wrong, and it hurts the church. In terms of the shifting culture, I say thanks to guys like Bill Hybels and others who have been unafraid to say we have a corporate side to ministry; it’s going to be the best corporate institution it can possibly be, and we’re not going to try to merge first century [with the 21st ].”

Jim Collins:

“A church leader often has a very complicated governance structure. There can be multiple sources of power, constituencies in the community, constituencies in the congregation. With all of that, you’re going to run into trouble if you try to lead a church as a czar. Church leaders have to be adept in a more communal process, what we came to call ‘legislative’ rather than an ‘executive’ process.”

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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10 Responses to “Is Leadership Spiritual?”

  • thoughts
    March 31, 2006

    Unanimous Church Leadership

    Pastor Andy Stanley and author Jim Collins debate church leadership with some interesting comments on the spirituality of leadership. But what’s even more interesting is their agreement on the perils of unamimous church leadership: Both men agreed on t…

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  • Anthony D. Coppedge
    March 31, 2006

    I remember Perry Noble’s illustration about staff led vs. committee led churches:
    If a pilot had to go to first class and get permission to land the plane, get a concensus from them that it was OK, then go to coach class and get an 80% approval, what kind of trouble would airlines be in?!
    Ed Young, Jr. also made a great analogy: Would a Doctor let his patients run his business and decide what kind of equipment, staff and resources were needed? What kind of qualifications does a patient have about such things? In the same way, why would you want those who don’t fully understand how to run a church be the ones who run the church?
    Both illustrations are great examples of why I prefer staff led churches. As with everything, though, a strong elder board is important to maintain balance and accountability.

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  • Todd Ramsey
    March 31, 2006

    I think those are good examples Anthony, but oftentimes those in church leadership positions have Bible knowledge, not necessarily leadership skills.
    I’m a rebel though, so that could be tainting my response to staff-led churches.

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  • Dan
    March 31, 2006

    I agree with staff-led too. But I also believe in the priesthood of all believers so am not a big fan of an extreme clergy-laity mindset. I don’t see it as biblical.

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  • phill Longmire
    March 31, 2006

    I am on board with what Andy says…but with that comes an ability to take all these pressures…insights…and authority and LEAD…
    I use to pastor a congregational town hall meeting and lets vote church…it lends itself to problems…
    We need leadership and followship…with accountability…

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  • Zack J.
    March 31, 2006

    I think I may have taken that Young illustration a little differently than I was supposed to. True, what qualifications does a patient have about such things?
    But… could it be that the doctor should be a patient himself? A patient with delusions of grandeur, perhaps- taking over in lieu of the real doctor? Dramatic, I know. But worth thinking about.
    Maybe we as church leaders should think long and hard about whether we are truly the doctor… or his assistant.

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  • Dennis Cummins
    March 31, 2006

    I am the Senior Pastor of an independent church. It was a pioneer work that the founding pastor started in 1990. I came on in 1991 and have seen some amazing changes. What I have come to realize is that those that enjoy attending a smaller church between 50-150 enjoy being in the know about everything and want control over everything. With a non-voting membership, it meant that power happy people went down the road. When I became Senior Pastor two years ago and now running 400-500, less people care about the trivial things. They are more interested in serving or being served. The church has grown far beyond those that tried to maintain their power hold in the body and politic.
    I know that there are some that abuse a staff lead church, but the abuse doesn’t negate the scriptural principle of God’s structure of authority in the body of Christ. I believe the enemy has used the congregational lead government to destroy many a great churches, visions, and pastors. Most of the issues that create church splits are nothing more than selfish motives about the 99, when we should be more focused upon reaching the 1.
    Being raised in the ministry and being invovled in both sides, I have realized that it is vital that I (which I do) as the senior pastor am accountable to my pastor and carry an affiliation for a spiritual covering. As a pastor leads an independent governed church, it is vital that the pastor leads with benevolent dictatorship. Meaning doing what is best for the vision that God has laid before the church. And as I have found, this means not getting to do some of the things that I want to do. It is the model that Christ laid before us. Thus we as pastors are to follow Christ’s example.
    I know my soap box is pretty big here, but I must close with this; I believe that there are some Pastors that have no business being senior pastors. These are the ones that are out side of their calling, probably called as an associate or a simply should be in the secular field working. They have no business leading a church – thus churches really need to know those that minister among them. Are they called, are they anointed, are they submitted, and what is their track record.

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  • Gaill b Pitts
    April 2, 2006

    Yes, it matters not the leader ship role you are given,Be fore, you embark on this path in life, you must have the ablity with in you, to hold fast to the laws put before,us by God, in the BiBle, the first book of laws, for all types of leadership roles ! When this is done, you can exspan on these, in relationship, to come to your full fillment of the leader ship role.

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  • Todd Ramsey
    April 3, 2006

    Is it possible to have a senior pastor that isn’t expected to also be the church’s leader? I come from a church of Christ background so that paradigm isn’t that radical for me.

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  • Rev Joan R. Thompson
    May 1, 2006

    Leadership can be spiritual but often isn’t. Perhaps the lack of spiritual orientation here has something to do with leadership models. There appears to be an objective in the various models and I suppose if the objective in a business model is to bring people to the profit margin and people make it there, then that model worked.
    Models then, seem to have an agenda. To succeed with spiritual leadership, I believe the objective is one of transforming people to achieve God’s agenda. God’s agenda is a touchy subject as churches tend to think they are on the “inside” and “in the know”. In realty we function “in the dark”. Who thinks they are so discerning as to know the agenda of God at any point in time? That is spiritual arrogance.
    Reading the Bible does not draw the same image of an agenda that one gets when reading the ‘Gospel of Judas’ for example. While I do not to equate the this book with being on the same level of spiritual authority as the Holy Bible, Judas does add an interesting perspective and certainly helps us understand we are way to primitive to fully understand God’s agenda.
    At best, and for now, it seems all we can do to be mindful of the agenda of Christ.
    Rev Joan

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