Thursday, August 11, 2011

A new way of Church leadership?

As I watched this years State of Origin and the continuing success of Queensland I became aware of how much of this continued domination by Qld over the last 6 years is due to Mal Meninga and his style of coaching. Much has already been written about the new style of coaching Mal Meninga has brought to rugby league particularly at the high performance end. As an outsider it has the appearance of a manager like in European soccer. As the coach he brings in people with various levels of expertise and manages them as well as managing the players.

In some ways he is like a CEO/manager of a business. He doesn’t do everything. He compliments his own skill set with people who can do the things he needs done and realizes he isn’t always the best person to do some activities. He is not threatened by bringing in other mentors to do a specific task with a player/s.

As I have watched this unfold over the last couple of years it struck me that this model of coaching could work in a church too at a leader level. Rather than the pastor being the head and doing everything, the Pastor cultivates a team environment of leadership. Now before you say well I already do that, please hear me out. The difference here is that this style of management will mean that you will have people who are actually better than you being involved on your leadership team and in some public capacity.

I wonder if the manger pastor who is good at leadership but poor in preaching could have others in his church doing the bulk of preaching. The current model of church is the best preacher or the most theological qualified tends to be the senior pastor. I have been thinking that perhaps the best leader in the church should in fact be the senior pastor and the best preacher may be a mechanic or school teacher in your congregation. Then everyone can concentrate on their gifting and not have to do things which aren’t their strengths.

Too many of our pastors are focussed on working in the ministry when they should be working on the ministry. The church CEO who heads the organisation then has people involved in preaching, pastoral care and other activities like Mal Meninga does as the Qld coach. He is not doing everything. He is coaching the process of creating a successful team which includes lay leaders and the congregation.

This same model of leadership is replicated in schools. The Principal isn’t necessarily the best teacher in the school. He is the leader who sets the vision/culture for the school and will probably have far better teachers than them on the staff. The Principal isn’t threatened by that scenario and probably hopes that is the reality.

So am I saying Mal isn’t really the coach? No. What I am saying is that he knows his strengths and he is not threatened by bringing in others who maybe better than him in certain areas. He is very much the coach and the boss and sets the patterns for what needs to happen. He has determined the strategy for success. But he also surrounds himself with people to help make it happen. People who are happy to be Mal’s armour bearers. To do their part away from the limelight and for the greater good of the team. That only happens because Mal has created that culture. If you notice Mal has had many assistants across the 6 years and as some leave and others take their place the team hasn’t missed a beat. That is because Mal has stayed as boss and ‘employed’ people who are happy to be the armour bearer and stay in their role of expertise. They don’t want to be boss but they know they have skills to contribute to the success.

Now just maybe the future church congregation will be led by a Pastor who operates as a CEO who will empower the laity to do the work. Empowered lay people who share in the success of growth are more likely to want to contribute to the church and invite their friends to church. The job of the CEO Pastor is identifying the vision of the congregation and coaching the leaders and members into achieving that vision. I’m suggesting that perhaps the best theological trained person isn’t the lead Pastor but the person who has the best coaching credentials.

Just a thought. I would love to hear your comments and whether you agree or not.