Leaders know that effecting change in a local church can be a notoriously difficult process. At one end of the spectrum they deal with those who would resist it. At the other end, they engage with those who would drive it forward at any cost. Between those polar opposites a whole range of opinions is evident. How, then, do we move from one phase to another in the life of a local fellowship with the conviction that we are taking the church forward?
I recently gained valuable insight into the management of change from an unlikely source. For some weeks now Channel 5 has run a documentary that chronicles the life and times of Liverpool Football Club. As the first episode was drawing to a conclusion, the commentator offered this perceptive comment: “In sport, moments of transition are inevitable, periods of struggle unavoidable, a need for leaders with true vision fundamental. In this unforgiving business the most successful recognise this, they plan for it, they adjust for it, and they embrace it. Then they put together teams of men who will head off on journeys together…”
This remarkable statement underlines the critical role of the leader in times of transition. It also highlights discernible qualities that reside in their hearts.
These same characteristics are vital as local church leaders seek to navigate a fellowship through constantly changing waters.
True leaders have a clear sense of direction. Leaders who seek God are given wisdom and discernment about the way forward for the church.
They are acutely aware of their surroundings. A leader recognises that change is most definitely here to stay!
They are marked by a tenacious spirit. They are persistent in the task before them and persevere when it would be easier to seek the safety and security of the harbour. They stay the course.
All of this needs further thought and development. However, perhaps one additional comment (not linked directly to the quote above) will suffice for the moment.
A godly leader’s life ought to be governed by humility
Along with vision, realism and tenacity, a spirit of humility must reside in the heart of a leader. This is because their trust ultimately rests in God and this same reliance is needed as they chart the future course for the local church.