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Becoming an Effective Leader in the Local Church

church leadership

Are good leaders made or born? That’s a debatable question with an unclear answer. Yet what is clear is that all effective leaders have one thing in common: they never stop learning and consistently adapt to leadership challenges.

Natural leaders can’t lead solely by instinct. They have to understand their ministry contexts, navigate a rapidly changing society, and help others see what is possible. Those who find leadership unnatural need to discover their own leadership abilities, understand the dynamics of leadership, and learn from proven leaders.

I fall into the latter category. Leadership does not come naturally to me. When I encounter situations that stretch my limits, followers that test my patience, and obstacles that blur my vision, I turn to the wisdom of experienced leaders for guidance.

Leadership principles for the local church

As an elder of a small congregation, I recently faced a crisis that exceeded my leadership skills. Our aging congregation suddenly awoke to the reality that people, finances, and energy were rapidly disappearing from our midst. We were dying and needed to take action. Of course, not everyone agreed. Emotions ran high. Solutions and opinions abounded. Relationships were strained. Leadership was needed.

At the same time, I was reviewing two leadership courses from Dr. Justin Irving: Introducing Ministry Leadership and  The Ministry Leader and the Inner Life. While these courses do not directly address the leadership crisis I faced, the principles, concepts, and practical wisdom Dr. Irving presents helped me objectively evaluate the crisis at my church—and identify how to best lead our congregation through the crisis.

Introducing Ministry Leadership provides a framework of leadership principles that are applicable to many new situations that leaders face every day. The course helps leaders navigate the social, church, and ministry contexts which are constantly in flux. Dr. Irving reminds us to focus on our goals, followers, and cultural contexts. He helps leaders understand how they are equipped to lead themselves, individuals, teams, and entire organizations.

It takes more than knowledge and wisdom to remain faithful when new leadership challenges arise. The Ministry Leader and the Inner Life shifts from the functional leadership principles found in Introducing Ministry Leadership to personal foundations of leadership. This course addresses the faith and spiritual growth of a leader, essential characteristics for long-term leadership success.

These two courses are excellent for those just starting to lead in ministry, for seasoned leaders looking to evaluate their leadership patterns, and any leader ready to embark on a new adventure in faith.


Today’s post is by guest contributor Michael Fuller. Learn more about the Ministry Leadership Bundle.

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