Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. ~ Psalm 127:1
Realize the church is a community, not a corporation
Four decades of church growth theory has imparted a mindset that the principles and practices of business building are transferable into the church. Many of these ways and means are in direct contradiction to the persona and character of Jesus. The church is not a business. It is a family. The descriptor language throughout the New Testament is familial (e.g. Sister, Brother). Community is cultivated from the cumulative gifts and diverse talents and viewpoints within the people themselves—not from the professional meeting of needs or deficiencies.
Think body life over systems life
This is an assets-based mentality rather than a need-based approach. The church is not a machine and people are not parts. The church is the living, breathing, walking around body of Jesus. This truth is just as true regarding church staffs as it is of church members. A human or animal body functions as each appendage (member) or organ is connected with the life flow of rest of the body. The diversity of those members and organs makes the body functional and effective. When a body part is ailing the rest of the body runs to attend to it’s issue. Rarely is amputation or removal the answer to the problem. In a factory the first thought is to remove and replace the faulty part. Too often this is the thinking in corporate America church.
Realize no one works for you
Staff members are not your employees. They are your fellow servants of the Lord. In fact, look up the definition of the word employee and you get the description of a hireling. People don’t need to be managed. They don’t need to be bossed. I realized those statements run against the grain of most everything we have been taught about leadership. That’s the point. Jesus turns the way of leading we have seen in the world on it’s head. He came as a servant, modeled servantship and sends us out as servants with our fellow servants.
Discipleship starts In the church office
Consider this. Do you think of it this way? If discipleship is not happening among the leaders of a church why would we think it will authentically take place outside of the office? If the fruit of the Spirit is not being purposely cultivated among the church staff then our gifts of the Spirit will be tainted. The apostle called skill gifts devoid of love a loud, dull, gong (1 Corinthians 13). Another thing. Discipleship must be lateral. That is—it must not be viewed hierarchically. There must be an atmosphere of freedom to speak one’s heart in love without fear of anyone (e.g. “senior” leadership) pulling rank. Remember, you are fellow servants, following the Chief Shepherd.
Choose empowerment over empire
In a servantship/discipleship culture leaders view themselves as curators of community rather than the primary source of the organization’s needs. From Ephesians 4 we learn that the gifts Jesus gives to the body (apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, teacher) are given to build up and equip the body in order to grow it to maturity. The primary job of a leader is to train, resource, and equip others to do what they do best. To keep others reliant on our own charisma or giftings is utter failure on our part. Realize that you can collect large numbers of people under one roof once or twice a week while never forming a community. There is a huge difference in a congregation and an assembly. A collection of individuals is a congregation. A connected group saints is an assembly of the body of Christ.