By Bishop Michael Rinehart
A leader of a church is like a ship’s captain. An effective captain knows the destination and has plotted out a route. The captain motivates and organizes the crew to work together to accomplish the mission. Church leaders are no different. There are basics to leadership that are common to most disciplines. Some like to make fun of leadership and business books, as if they have nothing to learn. The church needs people who know how to lead organizations, large and small, those with 300+ employees and those with five.
In this spirit, below is a checklist of 25 best practices for church leaders. Take a look:
- Mission: Do we have a mission statement that is known by most of the congregation? Do I preach this mission regularly?
- Vision: What is my ten-year vision for this congregation? Have I discussed this with church leadership? Have I preached this vision in a sermon to the congregation in the past year?
- Core Values: Do we have 4 to 8 written core values that clearly describe the kind of community God is calling us to be? Have they been approved by the congregation? Have I preached core values in the last year?
- Strategic Plan: What is our three-year plan? Did we develop this plan with a thorough listening to God, to the congregation, into the wider community?
- Annual Roadmap: Have we developed our annual roadmap for this year? Was this develop my leadership team? Was it shared with the congregation?
- Faithful Metrics: Have we developed faithful metrics that help us know if we are bearing the fruit we hoped for in the above planning? Is the leadership team tracking these metrics weekly or monthly?
- Simplicity: Have we simplified the basic tasks of ministry so we have clarity of purpose?
- Organizational Chart: Do we have an organizational chart that clarifies rolls and accountability?
- Meetings: Does my staff meet weekly, with participatory meetings and a clear agenda?
- Staff: Do we have the right staff? Are they all on the right seat of the bus?
- Annual Review: Did we review all staff this year, on the basis of clear job descriptions, last year’s goals, and our core values? Does every staff person have 3 to 4 goals?
- Giving: Am I tithing? Do I preach about giving?
- Sermon: Have I set aside 6-8 hours every week to prepare inspiring and engaging sermons?
- Worship: Do we have a team that is creatively planning worship weekly?
- Evangelism: Do we have a system to invite, welcome and follow up with visitors?
- Faith Formation: Have we a strategy for faith formation among young and old? Have I arranged for the home bound to be visited and communed monthly?
- Bishop’s Report: Did I fill out my Pastor’s or Deacon’s Report to the Bishop by February 15?
- Congregational Report: Did the congregation complete its Congregational Report by February 15?
- Council: Do we have the right sized leadership team and an organizational structure that drives the mission? Do we have a plan to get there?
- Constitution: Do we have a clear Constitution and bylaws, that has been updated in the last 3 years?
- Mutual Ministry: Do we have a Mutual Ministry or Staff Support Team?
- Finance: Do we have a budget?
- Audit: Have we done an audit this year?
- Insurance: Do we have adequate liability and malpractice insurance?
- Policy: Do we have clear policies in place?
- Safe haven policy that requires background checks for everyone who works with children or youth
- Staff/personnel policies
- Conflict of interest policy
- Sexual-harassment policy
- Building use policy
- Handling offerings and finances policy
- Expense reimbursement policy
- Windfall gifts policy
- Wedding Policy
- Funeral Policy
Don’t try to get these all done at once. It takes years and patience to set up a healthy organization. Start by scoring yourself 1 (low) to 4 (high) on each item. Then go to work on a few of the deficits. If you need help, give us a call. We have resources in all these areas. Rescore the checklist in 6 months or so and you’ll see improvement.
Church is a team effort. Don’t go it alone. Set up your teams. Establish a clear mission, destination and route. Keep clear boundaries, roles and responsibilities. When all the parts of the body are working together, good stuff happens.
Without a vision the people perish…
Who builds a tower without first sitting down and counting the cost?