CHURCH LEADERSHIP: Leadership is a calling. Management is a tool.

Leadership is a calling. Management is a tool.

Management is the science of extrinsically motivating individuals and groups to align with goals, mission or objectives.

Leadership is the art of intrinsically inspiring and connecting the story of your organization to the individual dreams of people.

I think we need both, of course. However, in a church setting, we seem so bent on using management as a way to align things that have nothing to do with goals or mission. We enforce culture, prop up personalities and build silos at times.

This is why management should be a servant to leadership, not a substitute. Add in a “spiritual” component and it could turn to spiritual abuse where the use of managerial-type authority replaces leadership or where the tool replaces the biblical calling to lead. People get hurt, burnt out and worse in the church if we are not careful.

To make this point practical here is a narrative.

A woman rallies her friends and starts a ministry in the church because a sermon inspired her to feed the poor. She comes to the church after leading this ministry for several months under the radar only to be told she cannot advertise in the bulletin for volunteers as her ministry grows. She did not complete the proper classes for serving in the church so her ministry is not valid is what she is told.

This unexpected encounter and the tension it creates to both parties create a mess. A simple solution might be to expect people to be motivated to be entrepreneurs when we work to rally people to the cause of Christ and therefore have a plan in place. Or, when the train wreck occurs, correct or amends the process.

“You have not attended our classes, however, we love what you are doing. We want not only to partner by helping promote your ministry, we want to learn more about it so come to our new ‘new ministry’ seminar to get the help you need to keep this thing growing and receive support such as getting more volunteers.”

That seminar can contain the content and intent of the “class” and allow the mission of the church to be more about people serving than them filling out forms. The process is there to serve, not to be served.

Of course, not all will be open to even this kind gesture as some just want to do their thing. Well, let them. You can simply bless them with the warning that they will miss out on the support and accountability. When they tire, their new endeavor will fall or a more responsible person will recover it and be the one to bring it back to you.

Also, go ahead and create a process and a framework. But, do not make it a law—especially if it does not serve your goals in the first place. That is bad management, right? And, even worse. Is it not bad leadership?

What are your thoughts and management, leadership and how they work together or provide tension to each other in the local church?

Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

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