Today’s topic is a question: what is the greatest challenge, the greatest need of churches, large and small right now? What is the thing that is bottle-necking, hindering, or in some way slowing down churches of every size from moving ahead?
The answer is not anything external, like technology, a pandemic or a culture that’s increasingly hostile, secular or anything like that. It’s the same answer that I’ve seen in over a decade of transitional ministry and over three decades of pastoral ministry and the answer to the question is governance. Church governance, which is really a subset of leadership.
It really comes down to leadership issues. I have seen, and I am seeing, that where things either go sideways in the church, are not really working that well, or the church is not advancing, adapting or being effective in its ministry, mission, or its vision that in some way it comes back to governance. It comes back to leadership.
We know there are other issues. Another really big issue in the life of the church is actually gossip. I was asked one time in a transitional role, are there some common things you come across in every church? And I said, yes, governance and gossip. They’re the two big issues. But ultimately governance is the big one because it’s governance, it’s leadership that ultimately deals with those internal relational issues like gossip or not.
So whatever ministry situation you are in and whatever you see as the big problem or the big challenge, I want you to take an honest look and see where leadership is playing a part. It could be that governance is contributing to that problem through a wrong application of governance, or just not addressing it by almost a sin of omission by not taking action or authority as those leaders ought to do.
I know it’s not a sexy answer to say that the biggest issue is governance, but it’s a real and honest answer. We need to understand how organizations work or don’t work and the church is an organization. There’s either good leadership or bad leadership, good governance systems or not, and the vast majority of the time, if not always, you can trace an issue back to governance in some measure.
So take a look at your governance system and a look at your own leadership and start there as you seek to address whatever the biggest visible challenges seem to be. It could be the pandemic, the culture, decline, finances, or whatever, but I encourage you to start with governance and leadership and you will then be starting on the path to actually solving the issue.
God bless, press on.