While there are many different definitions of church, the one with which I’m most comfortable, which comes from Stanley Grenz, is that church is a covenant community. Churches are about community, which means people in relationship.
This impacts how leadership operates within the church. Church leadership is different from ‘leadership’ in general in that the people within the community are what church is about. In some types of leadership, people are secondary. In military or business leadership, it is about achieving goals. This might be taking a particular piece of land (military) or making a certain amount of money (business). People might be part of that process, but if the people are ‘used up’ in the process that does matter. It might be sad. But the measure of success is the goals, not the people.
In church it is different. The measure of success is people being in relationship with God and with each other. When people in the community are ‘used up’ or lost in the process of achieving goals then ultimately the church has failed itself.
The traditional leadership training is about having a vision or goals, knowing how to reach that vision and then getting people working towards achieving a goal. This draws on the influencing and thinking talent groupings. The people who respond to this are the completers or achievers. These people like to get things done and are happy when they have something to do or finish. When they do things that the help the vision of the influencers, the influencers appreciate and value them.
The problems occur when things go wrong. What happens when people’s situation changes and they can’t ‘do’ so much? For people with either an influencing or completing perspective, these people are then a drain on doing things. They get ignored, forgotten, or even discarded from the community.
However for people with a relationship perspective things are very different. They are not very focused on achieving goals. They are focused on developing the relationships between people, regardless of what they are ‘doing’. When things become difficult for people, relationship building people want to know how they can help. They are focused on keeping the person within the community. This is key aspect for ‘church’ leadership.
This is why I believe that church leadership should be done in a team. Church leadership needs the tradition leadership perspectives of having a vision, achieving goals, and influencing people in reaching those goals, but more than that, it needs the perspective of how we are going to keep the people in community while achieving those goals.