The skills of Church Leadership

So… I’m onto section F of the Selection Criteria for the Church of England: Leadership & Collaboration. I thought this would be a category I would fly through. I have had various positions of responsibility and leadership in my life, and I like to think I am a natural leader (I say that with no shred of pride, just that I recognise my God-given skills.). However I have been very definitely humbled as I am struggling with this category! Questions like ‘reflect on leadership styles’, or ‘reflect on the significance of contextual issues in leadership’ are taxing my brain! (Lesley I feel a long email coming your way..!). If anyone can point me to books in this area I would be grateful.  Anyway to start with my required reflection I have put together a list of leadership skills that would make an effective ordained minister. This is from my own reflection of church and leadership outside of the church. I would love to hear peoples thoughts and of course additions… 

1. Live out the Gospel: There is nothing worse than a minister who preaches a message of forgiveness but cannot forgive themselves.

2. Be Compassionate: There will be very needy people who come to you. Be sympathetic to their needs. Even when they are annoying, continually coming to you with the same needs, or even unwilling to help themselves.

3. Do not Judge: It is so easy to do, particularly with those who are more involved in the life of your church, on committees etc. You never know what is going on behind the scenes…

4. Be honest: I can’t stand ministers who claim everything is hunky-dory when actually their teenage kids are running a-muck and the whole congregation knows it. No one is perfect and we don’t expect ministers to be either. If you have an issue ask for help or prayer!

5. Be unflappable: I am not there yet but I know from friends in ministry that chances are some pretty odd and awful situations will come your way. Trust in God to guide you, don’t run the other way. and if you really can’t help, find someone who can.

6. Be available: When my Dad first came to our church, depsite the fact that there was a problem with our hall and at the last minute the whole service had to be shifted elsewhere (on Easter Sunday!) the Vicar welcomed my Dad and had a chat with him. He did not seem flustered even though he had every right to be. A good minister should be welcoming and approachable, not distant and aloof. (you’d be surprised how many still are!)

7.Teach and Preach: This is a huge part of the role of a priest. Don’t feel you have to appeal to your congregation, you are there to preach the Gospel, so preach it! (although at times this may be unpopular…)

8. Encourage: be an encourager to those in your congregation. They all have their own skills and gifts, so encourage them to use them. Sometimes people just need  a gentle nudge to get up and do something or to go out and help.

9. Know your Congregation: In relation to no 8. Know the people who come to your church, then you will be able to discern their skills and gifts, but also their needs. (obviously in a big church this is harder to do, but try wherever you can, all the same!)

10: Be organised: From what I already know, ministry life is full on. You need to be organised! If you need someone to do admin for you, then do! and for goodness sake delegate wherever you can (no’s 8 & 9 will help with this!)

So there you go, have I missed off anything vital?  I wonder if, in 10 years time, assuming I get into minstry, whether I would change this list at all!

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  • Reply
    Nancy Wallace
    April 4, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Be able to articulate a vision.
    Be able to delegate but not abrogate.

  • Reply
    Lay Anglicana
    April 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    If you ever find someone who can do even half of this list, please send him or her along to our benefice!

  • Reply
    April 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Gosh Red.. that is a very good question… almost feels like a blog post.

    I've got a feeling that the way you lead is about who you are, and that calling is all about identity.

    I think what I would want in a priest is:
    1. Someone who is on a journey
    2. Someone who knows themselves
    3. Someone who believes they are called to lead and others agree with them
    4. Someone who is prayerful
    5. Someone who is able to take time out to restore their soul
    6. Someone who is undefended

  • Reply
    April 5, 2011 at 11:55 am

    oohh, thanks some good points there. better re-asess my answers for the DDO..;)thanks all.
    Lesley, what do you mean by 'undefended'…?

  • Reply
    April 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Hi Red,

    I describe it in this post

  • Reply
    April 5, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I think I might add to the list that I would want someone who could be strategic and organise themselves out of a paper bag.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Gosh, I'm glad I went through selection 25 years ago. Not sure I'd have coped with all that, Red. I agree with what Nancy and Lesley have written, and would like to add the importance of getting to know the surrounding community the church serves. Vision isn't just about the church but the world. In my active ministry I always tried to hold onto the saying of William Temple (I think) that the church is the only organisation which exists for the benefit of those who aren't its members. No holy huddle there.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Thank you Perpetua, good point to remember 🙂

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