The Pathway to Powerful

Learning to Lead a Courageous, Connected Culture
NEWTYPE Publishing
  • 1. Auflage
  • |
  • erschienen am 1. November 2018
  • |
  • 200 Seiten
E-Book | ePUB ohne DRM | Systemvoraussetzungen
978-0-578-41291-7 (ISBN)
What happens when the leadership team of a dying church decides to embark on a journey of personal and cultural transformation in hopes of saving the organization? They are required to confront the fears that have been driving relational dysfunction and establish a more courageous relational culture. The Pathway to Powerful lays out the roadmap for this brave journey.
  • Englisch
  • 0,37 MB
978-0-578-41291-7 (9780578412917)
1 WE HAVE A PROBLEM! On a winter's day in 2013, I walked into our senior pastor's office with some bad news. "Dennis, we are in serious financial trouble," I told him. "If the church continues to spend money at its current rate, I predict we will completely run out of money and be forced to close our doors within six months. The clock is ticking." I had only been on staff for a couple months, filling the newly created position of finance manager. Until hiring me, the church had a bookkeeper who processed and deposited income, paid bills, and did payroll, but did not run or read financial reports. It had been a long time since anyone had taken a clear measurement of where the church stood financially. Having an accounting background, I immediately started to run reports, compare them to the budget, and assess the financial state of the organization. It didn't take me long to see that the numbers did not look good. The church had been shrinking in size for several years and income had decreased along with it. However, rather than noticing and addressing this problem, the leaders had continued to create budgets "in faith" that allowed the church to continue to spend at levels it couldn't afford, while praying for a miraculous turnaround. As a result, we had been losing money at an ever-increasing rate, and were now at the point where bankruptcy was imminent if nothing changed. Dennis looked at me in total shock, clearly completely blindsided by this news. Finally, he asked, "What are we going to do?" "I can't tell you, but you are going to have to do something. We absolutely cannot continue as we have been." I hesitated, then decided to point out an obvious but uncomfortable fact. "As it currently stands, our largest expense is staff. If you look at current church staffing practices, you will see that we are very overstaffed for a church our size." I watched the weight of these words hit him. Dennis loved people, and the suggestion that he may have to let some staff members go, many of whom had worked at the church for a long period of time and felt like family to him, was especially painful. I left his office very doubtful that he would have the strength to make such a difficult leadership decision, even though I knew it was the only way that the church could be saved. SYMPTOMS OF A DEEPER PROBLEM When I had taken the position of finance manager, I was well aware that there were problems within the church, specifically among the leaders. My husband Aaron and I had been on staff previously for five years as youth pastors before stepping down in 2010, weary and beat-up after many experiences of dysfunctional communication and poor decision-making with the leadership team, and feeling powerless to fix these dynamics in the leadership culture. Upon returning to the church in 2012, we learned that the church had continued to struggle through major leadership changes, and that the unresolved conflict and division among the leaders and congregation had recently resulted in an unhealthy church plant. We had only agreed to me going back on staff because we thought the finance manager role would keep me mostly removed from those struggles. Instead, the finances had landed me squarely in the middle of broken leadership dynamics. Before going to Dennis, I had brought the financial reports and analysis to my direct boss, a member of the senior leadership team. I explained the extent of the crisis and what would happen if we did nothing. He listened intently, asked questions, and took notes. However, when I returned a few weeks later to inquire what course of action we were going to take, I discovered he hadn't made any decisions about the information or passed it on to anyone. It was as if he had completely frozen in fear. It was after the third meeting where I heard he still hadn't acted that I took the news to Dennis myself, aware that we were losing time. In contrast to my boss, Dennis didn't waste much time before bringing the news of the crisis to the entire senior team. However, it was then that the real weight of the disconnection that still existed among the leaders, three years on from when Aaron and I had left, became real to me. Here we were on the verge of losing everything, yet weeks turned into months as the team struggled to come together and build a solution to the problem. They seemed unwilling to look for the deeper issues driving the church's decline, instead proposing superficial changes while believing for a miraculous breakthrough. It was clear that the finances were only a symptom of the far deeper issues in our relational and leadership culture, which were now being forced into the open. A TEAM DIVIDED How did we end up in this state of crisis? The church was now twenty years old. In its early years, it had grown and thrived, becoming one of the larger churches in the area. We attracted many families who built friendships, championed one another, spent time in and out of one another's homes, and experienced and grew in God together. We developed a reputation in our small area for being seeker-friendly and loving well, two factors that had contributed to rapid growth. Yet even as we had grown, certain events in those early years had planted seeds of disconnection and mistrust among the core leadership team, which were never fully confronted and dealt with. The true impact of this oversight was revealed when, as is normal in the life cycle of all organizations, we came face to face with a series of challenges and conflict-producing events. We went through a season of major change in vision and focus as a church when we got swept into the charismatic renewal/revival stream through exposure to Heidi Baker and Bethel Church in Redding, California. Our church had originally kept to a more conservative position-while we believed in the possibility of prophecy, miracles, and speaking in tongues, we did not actively pursue them as a congregation. As we embraced renewal, we began bringing in guest speakers and hosting conferences where miracles, signs, and wonders were on display. Some in the church were excited by this dramatic shift, while others were merely curious and still others were openly resistant, many leaving the church in quick succession. While the fresh move of God we were experiencing attracted a good number of people to the church, the loss of families that had been part of the church, some from the very beginning, was very painful and put an immense amount of pressure on the leaders. Some wanted to push forward and pursue the path we had chosen no matter the cost, while others wanted to slow down and find a balance that would preserve peace in our established congregation. Managing the shift in our focus and expression was not the only problem facing the leadership in this season, however. Administrative weakness started to come to light, exposing the fact the church was failing financially. This put a large amount of strain on the elder board and pastors. At the time, we were an elder-led church, but there was confusion around responsibility and accountability between the elders and pastoral team. In response to the financial issues, the elders chose to get much more involved in the decisions of the church while remaining removed from its day-to-day operations, which ended up created frustration among those trying to implement those decisions. We also embarked on a very ambitious building project and fundraising campaign that not everyone was on board with, which drew another sharp line of division across our church. More families left, and the pain deepened for those who remained. The stress of these problems created a situation where the church, which had felt like family to many, was now being torn apart. Division deepened as people began to assign blame to different parties-the senior pastor, associate pastors, or the elder board-for what was happening. Watching the leaders struggle to come together and pull in the same direction communicated to the staff and congregation a lack of clarity about what our vision truly was or who was leading. A leadership vacuum was established when no one stood up, said, "We have a problem," and pushed to bring the conflict to successful resolution. The ability of any organization to successfully navigate a major change in direction is directly tied to the amount of trust that exists in the team leading the change. In fact, the success of any team's ability to achieve its goals is fundamentally built on trust. Trust is built in a team when, beginning with the leader, team members become unafraid of acknowledging the truth about themselves-their strengths and victories as well as their fears, struggles, and mistakes. A healthy culture of trust is built through the courageous, vulnerable, and safe exchange of truth. Only when the truth comes to light can differences be understood and confronted in a way that lowers fear, strengthens connection, and invites teammates to resolve problems together. Team members who trust one another with the truth will also champion one another in the process of development rather than withdrawing from one another when weakness is revealed, which strengthens the connection of the team. In an environment free of...

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