Might: Spiritual, organizational, personal and positional sources and resources are appropriately used to make decisions and develop people

Is Your Church Over-Led and Under-Managed or Under-Led and Over-Managed?

In the posts “Leadership Versus Management: What is the Difference” and “Management and Leadership – The Church Needs Both,” we examined the definitions and differences between management and leadership and the necessity of both in healthy churches.

Leadership and management are binary, a whole composed of two, yet you’re typically doing one or the other. Therefore, the greatest challenge for a church is consistently maintaining the delicate balance between the two. Sadly, the reality is that some churches are over-led and under-managed and some are under-led and over-managed.

Typically an entrepreneurial church plant emphasizes leadership over management, passion over processes. Conversely, the plateaued and declining church emphasizes management over leadership, processes over passion. Entrepreneurial churches are chaotic and over-led while dying churches are stagnant and over-managed. This lack of balance between leadership and management eventually impacts the health and effectiveness of both types of churches and a swing in the opposite direction takes place.

Why does this happen? It is simple…….effective and successful leadership creates the need for management and successful management creates the need for leadership. Leaders tend to disrupt the status quo and managers tend to stabilize what leaders disrupt. Therefore, churches swing between being over-led and under-managed and under-led and over-managed. One creates the need for the other. Yet like a bird and an airplane need two wings to fly, effective leadership and management are both necessary for the church to be successful.

Characteristics of an Over-Managed Church

  • Policies and procedures take priority over people and the mission. Bureaucracy, committees and red tape delay decision making and drain energy.
  • People and ministries are busy but lack intentional purpose or connection to mission and vision.
  • Status quo thinking is widespread. No one challenges the way things are or the way things are done. There is no unifying vision.
  • People complain and gossip about little things, making mountains out of mole hills. People stay in the weeds and fail to see the big picture.
  • Key metrics are stagnant or in decline.

Characteristics of an Over-Led Church

  • Great ideas with little or no consistent follow through. Plans are made but not effectively executed.
  • Processes and systems are seen as deterrents.
  • Leadership training consists of learn as you go.
  • No one understands how decisions are made or who does what.
  • People are frustrated with the lack of quality and standards.
  • Lack of communication is chronic.
  • Staff are stretched thin, struggle to meet their responsibilities.

Leadership and management, like power, are value neutral. Neither is inherently good or bad. They become good or bad depending on how you use them. The challenge for churches is to navigate the tension between the two. Management without leadership leads to stagnation. Leadership without management leads to chaos. Over-managed churches need disruptors and over-led churches need process and systems builders.

Posted on November 8, 2016

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5