The Skill Church Leaders Can’t Neglect


I was at a gathering for Willowcreek’s Global Leadership Summit a few weeks ago and heard Bill Hybels say that the quality of your team will be the most critical element of your church’s growth. This got me thinking about the personal characteristics of the best church leaders. The quality that stuck out to me the most is what I call the propensity for yes.

We all have a propensity for something. Propensity is defined as, “An inclination or natural tendency to behave in a particular way.” What is your propensity as a leader and as a team member? Some church leaders have a propensity for stability. Others have a propensity for taking risks. Neither one is better than the other. Both characteristics should be present on a well-rounded team. However, there is one quality that I think every leader should have, and that is the propensity for yes.

A leader with a propensity for yes is…

1. Forward thinking. Church leaders with the propensity for yes ask the question, “What if?” and encourage other team members to do the same. They proactively think ahead of the curve and ask, “How can we make discipleship more fun and engaging?” or “What if we tweaked this aspect of our worship service?” The forward thinking leader surprises her team with new ideas and spurs his team to think more creatively as well.

2. Opportunistic. This characteristic especially applies to young church leaders. Say yes to as many opportunities presented to you as possible. If you’re asked to preach, say yes. If you’re asked to lead a small group, say yes. If you’re asked to oversee a new project at work, say yes.  I’m not condoning over commitment. I’m condoning pursuing opportunities that allow you to hone your skills and learn new things. One of my favorite thought leaders is Seth Godin whose motto is to pursue every creative idea you have because it just might work. Yes, getting out of your comfort zone includes the risk of failing, but the value of what you will learn through your failure is too valuable for you to miss out on.

3. Positive. When I’ve been on teams with negative leaders in the past, I have felt like I was trudging through mud. A positive outlook will spur on your team and create a momentum that has no room for negativity.

4. A collaborator. A motto we have here at Vanderbloemen is, “The phrase, ‘That’s not in my job description’ isn’t allowed in the office.” Why? In a growing company serving growing churches, it’s vital that each team member is malleable and has the agility to pitch in whenever and wherever they are needed. A team member with the propensity for yes looks for ways they can collaborate with other team members, give and receive positive feedback, and serve their team members when their to-do list is completed.

5. An initiator. These church leaders don’t ask for the next task to be handed to them. They seek out the next task by asking, “How can I add value?”

Conduct an experiment and count how many times you say yes or no during the rest of your workweek. Do your yesses outnumber your no’s? If so, ask yourself why you are saying no. There may be a perfectly good reason. However, if you don’t know why you’re saying no, consider asking yourself, “What if I said yes?” You may be surprised at the results.

What do you think? Is a propensity for yes always a good characteristics for church leaders?