Intentionality and Leadership Change

I have been involved in church leadership for almost 40 years; the last 25 as a pastor in four different churches and the previous 15 as an active volunteer in various aspects of church leadership. In each endeavor it has been the desire of those involved, including myself, to be about what is most important in order to make progress and stay true to the mission of the church; making the good news of Jesus known and then helping people grow up in their faith (biblical discipleship). Motives have often been right on target, even though our efforts or methods may not have always proven to be as “successful” as we had hoped.

I have been reflecting on these things for some time now and have developed a few, general convictions about these efforts, that are now giving me direction in my recent and current leadership settings. My hope is that these thoughts might bring encouragement, greater clarity, generate discussion and even respectful disagreement, as we each attempt to make a difference in our world and in the lives of others. So, here goes…

1. We, as leaders, have tended to complicate what Jesus meant to be profound, yet simple. We have too often felt the need to “add to” what He taught and how He led, as though what is lacking is our help or creativity. In doing so we have sadly mistaken knowledge for application, intelligence for wisdom, and outward behavior for life transformation (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8).

2. We have lost both the purpose and the experience of praying together as faith communities. The first century leaders led the faithful in prayer and it says they “turned their world upside down”. Prayer leadership cannot be delegated; it must be embraced by those of us who are called to lead. The missing ingredient in so much of today’s leadership training, books, conferences, and outreach strategies is an emphasis upon and an encouragement toward our personal prayer leadership for and with those we serve (Matthew 6:9-13, Acts 2:42, Acts 6:4).

3. We have concluded, incorrectly in my view, that busy church calendars, filled with good activities over a multitude of ministry areas, is equivalent to healthy church life and growth. The first century believers were devoted to just a few things and we read that they reached and evangelized their region and the known world at that time. Maybe the reason that the 80/20 principle is so prevalent (20% doing 80% of the work) is actually due to the crowded ministry portfolio found in so many of our churches, offering too many things instead of the right things. It just may be time to unclutter our lives and our calendars and adopt a much simpler approach (Acts 2:42-47, Mark 1:35-39, emphasis on v. 38).

4. We have, in our attempt to be more “relevant”, found ourselves on a slippery slope leading the church to conform to the culture around her, instead of transforming into the image of her Savior. As a result, we have failed to effectively reach those who so desperately need Jesus, losing our advantage that is embodied in the power and persuasiveness of what continues to be really Good News (Romans 12:1-2, Romans 1:16).

5. Finally, we have often chosen expedience or convenience over the longer and more difficult choice. We have chosen the microwave over the crock pot, choosing quickness over process. Taking this pathway regarding the mission of the church has resulted in many Christ followers becoming less effective in their own lives and in their share of the mission, if they even persevere to the end.

Concluding Thoughts

If these things ring true, then it’s simply not enough to give intellectual assent, while continuing to lead like we’ve been leading. Leadership change is especially required and is highly strategic for the church by those of us who lead. This is where things seem to get so difficult… when we actually need to make hard decisions that bring about real life change. I observed something about this kind of change recently; it wasn’t new but it became “new again” and it just might help you and I to make the changes required as it relates to the above observations.

My life coach has been helping me recently to make good on the things in my life and ministry that I want to see changed. He has been employing some interesting and non-conventional motivation and it’s been working. So this week he asked me what I attributed to the recent changes I had made. After giving this some thought, one word stood out in my mind and heart: intentionality. It was intentionality that helped me to finally make good on some changes that had been so difficult in the past. Intentionality takes our excitement, agreement, and best wishes and moves them into almost immediate action. You know what they say, do something new for 21 days and it becomes a habit. Leaders talk about change all the time, we urge others to change, but what about changing how we lead? This becomes more difficult, right? Especially when those we are leading really don’t want us to change and lead any differently. But the thing is, like Pastor Craig Groeschel has said, “The reason you are a leader is so that you might take people where they otherwise would not go.” So then, let’s be honest, brave, and intentional as we seek to lead more and more like Jesus.

The good news is that every day can be a new beginning, a new way of thinking, perceiving, and taking action on the things that matter most. Let’s keep our hand to the plow that God has given to us, day by day, until the end, seeking to please Him and impact others for His sake.

Copyright © 2016 Mike Moran. All rights reserved.

Mike has served in Christian ministry for over 25 years, serving churches in both California and Washington State.  Before entering the ministry Mike enjoyed a successful career in the business field, working in sales and marketing. While serving as Senior Pastor in the Pacific Northwest Mike become one of the founding members of the 64 Fellowship, and shortly after became part of the teaching team with Strategic Renewal.  Mike currently serves as a team member with Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM) helping churches across the country grow through pastoral transition. Mike’s passion is to provide leadership, coaching, and training to both pastors and churches so they experience renewed vision and greater intentionality in accomplishing their God-given mission. Mike has been married to Nancy for 35 years and they have two children.  Mike enjoys playing golf, reading, hanging out at Starbucks, and all sports teams in the SF Bay area.