Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Effective Church Leaders Do Not Treat Everyone Equally

Effective Church Leaders Do Not Treat Everyone Equally

Effective leaders always seek Proverbs 11:14“>wise advice and counsel.

In small churches, there’s a huge temptation for pastors to treat everyone’s advice as though it has equal value.

We’re often told that getting everyone’s input is the only fair way to do things. Some small churches even require congregational votes on almost every decision.

It’s hard for me to imagine a policy that will stifle a church’s health and effectiveness more permanently than the pursuit of false fairness. It must be resisted if our leadership is to be effective.

Yes, everyone has equal value in God’s eyes and they should in our eyes, too. But when it comes to who should have input into how the church should be run, not everyone’s opinion has equal value.

In my 30-plus years of ministry, I’ve recognized three types of people whose opinions merit a greater say in how church events and programs should be run. I feel so strongly about these that I teach them in every new members class. It cuts down on the complaints later when I don’t give everyone’s opinion equal weight.

These may not be the best criteria for you, your leadership style and your church. It’s just what works for me.

But even if you don’t use this list, I encourage you to make one of your own. Decide in advance whose voices should merit the greatest weight. Otherwise the loudest voices will win out and your ministry will be all reactive instead of proactive. 

1. Mature Believers

Riding a pew for 20 or 30 years does not automatically make someone a mature believer, just an old believer.

Yes, I should and do respect people who’ve been around a while. But someone who’s been actively growing in their faith for three years carries greater credibility with me than someone who has done nothing but show up Sunday after Sunday for 30 years.

Thankfully, those aren’t my only options. There are also some great saints who have been serving Jesus and his church while growing daily in their faith for decades. They carry the greatest weight with me. But the priority is given to their spiritual growth first, their years in the church second.

2. Those Involved in a Ministry

I tell my new members that I have a simple rule. Do you want to be a leader? Start by being a follower. A worker. A volunteer. A servant.

Get involved in something. If you need help getting started, I have a list.

It seems to me that people on the worship team should have a greater say in the purchase of new worship software than those volunteering in the nursery.

Likewise, those volunteering in the nursery are taken more seriously about what color the nursery walls should be painted than someone who can’t find the nursery on a site map of the church building.

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Karl is the author of four books and has been in pastoral ministry for almost 40 years. He is the teaching pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, a healthy small church in Orange County, California, where he has ministered for over 27 years with his wife, Shelley. Karl’s heart is to help pastors of small churches find the resources to lead well and to capitalize on the unique advantages that come with pastoring a small church. Karl produces resources for Helping Small Churches Thrive at KarlVaters.com, and has created S.P.A.R.K. Online (Small-Church Pastors Adapt & Recover Kit), which is updated regularly with new resources to help small churches deal with issues related to the COVID-19 crisis and aftermath.