It’s impossible to have a healthy church that experiences multi-dimensional growth without trusting people enough to delegate leadership to them. Having said that, this remains one of the greatest bottlenecks to growth for thousands of churches. And delegation remains one of the hardest challenges for Pastors and church staff members.
One of the reasons we fail to delegate leadership is our fear of wildfire. We’re afraid things will get out of control – and indeed they will – but limiting control is actually what often fuels growth. We often encumber leaders with too much red tape. Policies and procedures have their place, but we can easily add so much structure that people don’t feel free to lead and make decisions.
The key to motivating creative people to lead ministry effectively is granting ownership. At Saddleback, as much as possible, each ministry makes its own decisions without a lot of oversight from the staff. We believe that the implementers should be the decision makers. When everything has to be passed by a committee or board, we tend to ask why? about every decision. But our initial response to the ideas of creative people should actually be why not?
There are three ways to bring out the best in others and release creative leaders for ministry.
> Give Them a Challenge
People love to live up to a big challenge. Jesus demonstrated this with the Great Commission. He took a dozen average guys and challenged them to go tell the gospel to the entire world. He knew they couldn’t do it alone and they couldn’t do it quickly, but He knew they could do it over time as the church expanded under their leadership.
> Give Them Control
People need permission. I often say that you can have control or growth, but you can’t have both. At least you can’t have a lot of both. You must have some control, obviously, but there’s always a trade-off. Growth happens in an atmosphere of freedom where leaders are encouraged to dream, to try, to experiment, and even to fail and move forward. Burnout happens when we squash every new idea with a skeptical attitude.
> Give Them Credit
It’s extremely important to affirm and encourage those who serve. Pointing out successes, providing guidance and comfort through failure, and reminding people of their calling and giftedness in Christ matters greatly to the accomplishment of the church’s mission. We are wired to respond positively to encouragement and we’re usually motivated to keep going even when things get difficult if we know that our labor is appreciated.
Would you like your church to be stronger and healthier and to grow multi-dimensionally? You must die to self, give away ministry, and empower leaders with permission. And if you’re reading this as a non-Pastor, you absolutely must give your Pastor and staff the freedom to lead and feed by taking the responsibility of ministry.