6 Things For Church Leaders To Do Better In The New Year

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Tis’ the season for fresh starts and new beginnings. Every year, I personally take time to evaluate what I did well during the past year and what I need to do better or differently. The key, after this reflecting, is making sure I follow through.

Here at Vanderbloemen, our Executive Search Consultants visit hundreds of churches every year and interact with some of the best church leaders in the country. Below are some of the things we’ve seen that make a huge difference in effective church leadership.

Keep reading to jump-start your leadership skills in the new year. 

1. Allow your leaders to lead.

If you haven’t already, make it a point to “loosen the reigns” on your leaders this year. Let them know you’re open to their ideas and thoughts about the ministry they’re overseeing. If you’ve been clear about the vision and mission of the ministry and you’ve hired strong leaders, give them the opportunity to thrive.

Tim Stevens’ latest book, Fairness is Overrated, says it best:

"Authority is the ability to make decisions without asking for someone else’s permission. So often we give a leader responsibility without also giving him the authority. Nothing frustrates a true leader more than not being able to make decisions, or than making decisions that are later overturned."

Give your leaders both responsibility and authority, and then let them lead!

2. Invest in your team.

Allowing your leaders to lead is a great first step, but it’s imperative to invest in them as well. Are you meeting with them on a regular basis? Do you have a genuine open door policy? Beyond your personal investment into their success, give them opportunities outside of the church to grow and learn

Investing in your church staff members' skills and growth - both with your time and financially - not only allows them a chance to learn and improve, it is a tangible way to show that you care about their success. Encourage them to get further church leadership training or join a network that sharpens their skills - and include this in your church budget!

3. Focus on your spouse.

I know church leaders are reminded of this regularly, but this is such an important topic that I’d be remiss in not bringing it up again. Your children will grow up and one day leave the house, your ministry will continue after you retire, but your spouse will be with you through it all. There is no relationship worth investing in more than this one. And it’s certainly the one with the biggest return on the investment.

Be intentional in spending time together with your spouse without kids, friends, phones, or screens. If time is always getting away from you, put it on your calendar or set aside an evening every week. Don’t let this year pass without giving additional time and attention to this.

4. Rest.

Intentional rest is a nonnegotiable for church leaders.Tweet: Intentional rest is a nonnegotiable for church leaders. http://ctt.ec/Q5eMo+ via @VanderbloemenSG

The work our team does for churches sometimes lets us into some pretty broken spaces. We’ve found that you can almost always draw a direct line from a moral failure back to an exhausted Pastor. Yes, proper rest is necessary for proper brain function, memory, and health. But studies show that tired people are also taxed emotionally and, as is so often forgotten, spiritually. Don’t spread yourself too thin - this could become a foothold for evil. Take time for real and restorative rest.

5. Get uncomfortable… and encourage your church to join you!

The best-selling author Bryant McGill said, “Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth.”

We recently saw the reverse of this while helping a church fill a high-level executive role. Their growth was stagnant and had been for several years. They knew they need vision and direction from a strong leader to get them out of this rut. But, when they began interviewing several high-capacity candidates, their senior leadership wouldn’t budge out of their comfort zone. These new leaders we’re going to shake things up and get the church out of their comfort zone, and they just weren’t ready to go down that path. 

Churches cannot grow without growing pains.Tweet: Churches cannot grow without growing pains. http://ctt.ec/W54e7+ via @VanderbloemenSG

6. Buy a Pastor a cup of coffee.

One of the questions our team is asked more than any other is, “So, what is everyone else out there doing?” Good leaders are curious. They want to know what the other successful churches are doing to grow. This year, make connections with other churches outside of your usual network. Learn what they’re doing on their Sunday mornings or within their small groups. Offer to buy the Pastor lunch and hear the successes and failures they’ve been through this year. There is so much to learn outside of your four walls.

What are your goals as a church leader for the new year?

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