Over the years at Mars Hill, we’ve learned a lot (mostly the hard way) about what to look for when building a leadership team. Not all of these are original, but I wanted to share this list in hopes that it will help you think through building your teams:
1. Leaders need to be good in and under authority.
A church leadership team should model the humility found within the Trinity, where we find both equality and submission among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For church leadership, that means everyone must submit to Jesus and some form of human leadership as well. Nobody should wield absolute, unquestionable authority.
2. Everyone gains and gives up something to be a part of a great team.
Humility requires sacrifice. For leaders, this may be control (giving up a seat at the decision table), salary (leaving the corporate world to serve the church), information (not everyone can be at the center of all communication), or an impressive title.
3. Distinguish between a movement-focused, flock-focused, and sheep-focused leader.
Some leaders are great in a one-on-one context, others do well leading an entire congregation, and a few are built to oversee multiple churches, ministries, or networks. A great counselor may not make a great church-planter.
“Your value and worth must come from Jesus, and your strength must come from the Holy Spirit—not a personality quiz or leadership test.”
4. Find your identity in Jesus and not your leadership style.
5. Don’t pigeonhole leaders, but do take strengths and weaknesses seriously.
The joy, satisfaction, and productivity of your leaders will increase when they operate in their area of gifting. When they’re forced or pushed outside of their capacity or capabilities, church health will suffer.
6. Build your communication strategy to suit different personalities within your church.
Include a healthy combination of encouraging anecdotes, verses and theology, and practical numbers in your communication. Prophets, priests, and kings exist in your congregation, as well as in church leadership, and they want to see Scripture, stories, and stats, respectively. Consider all three areas when you articulate vision and mission.
7. Think one to three stages ahead.
Consider the various stages of church growth and anticipate what kind of leaders and resources you’ll need to thrive and progress at each level.
“Make the hard calls when necessary, with grace and courage.”
8. Providing jobs for people is not the primary mission of the church.
Many churches take God’s money and pour it into incompetent staff. Churches should employ the best workers—people who are great at what they do and can mobilize others on God’s mission. Make the hard calls when necessary, with grace and courage.
9. Ensure flexible structures that allow for ebb and flow.
Different seasons call for different leadership gifts on your team or in your church. Create a system that allows for transitions and reorganization.
10. Honor Jesus’ authority in your church as the Senior Pastor.
The church belongs to Jesus, and there are a number of practical ways to follow his active leadership.