Two Types of Leadership

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Written by Alan Vink

Categories: Pastors Blog

Comments: 0

Dear Pastors

Two Types of Leadership

I am more convinced than ever that local churches need two types of leadership. After my own 25 years of pastoral leadership and now some 15 years as a teacher/trainer of pastors and a church consultant I have a rock bottom conviction that this is what all mid-size churches (and larger) require if they want to continue to grow and become stronger and more effective.

Type 1: Spiritual Leadership

This type ‘defines’ a church as a church and separates it from all other organisations. It is sometimes referred to as Pastoral Ministry. Spiritual Leadership typically includes such things as pastoral care, preaching and teaching, worship, community building (as in the new community), prayer, evangelism, discipleship and mission etc. The focus here is on creating healthy and growing local communities of faith. Here we are wanting to create environments that help people meet Jesus and become fully devoted followers of Jesus and to do that together including age appropriate programming. This is what ‘ecclesia’ means.

Type 2: Organisational Leadership

All life forms need some sort of organisational structure to both support that life and to enhance that life. Our bodies for example have a very complex skeletal system just to mention one of seven systems that have been created by God to enable us to function. So it is with the Church which biblically understood is a living organism where God dwells by his Spirit. It too needs an organisational structure to enable it to function. So this includes, buildings, budgets, staffing, planning, organising, administration, compliance, management and governance etc.

If we agree on this descriptor then we face a few challenges I think.

  1. Have you noticed how different the tasks and responsibilities are of these two leadership types?
  2. They each need a distinct set of skills. Though they do overlap and interface they are different…..quite different.
  3. Our training institutions and Bible Colleges are focused on Type 1 by and large and the little they do in Type 2 is generally inadequate in my opinion. Since I started out as a Pastor in the early 80’s the demands for Type 2 leadership have grown astronomically. Whereas the demands for Type 1 haven’t changed all that much.
  4. More and more pastors talk (complain) about ‘administrative overload’. Because the demands and time it takes to do a good job in Type 2 it has fallen more often than not on the Pastors desk to do most if not all of this stuff. More than once have I heard a pastor mutter, “I didn’t sign up for this”.
  5. Pastoral Leadership candidates are generally people who have a strong skill set and passion for Type 1 leadership and not so much Type 2 which in actual fact is a good thing. However with that comes some challenges around efficient and effective Type 2 leadership. As a result many churches are not particularly well led when it comes to this dimension of church life.
  6. Some larger churches have responded to this by hiring Church Managers or Executive Pastors. These people are usually recruited from middle – senior management roles in the market place meaning they are very good at what they do in the Type 2 leadership space.
  7. In smaller churches (which is most of us) who cannot afford an Executive Pastor it can be quite a dilemma. I would recommend hiring a mid-level Office Administrator on a p/t basis or maybe smaller churches could develop a ‘shared services’ where 5-10 churches hire one person to take care of the Type 2 stuff?
  8. Some Elders may have a strong commercial background and that may be helpful but only if they truly understand that leading/managing a church is quite different than managing a business, school or any other organisation.
  9. There is a huge need to train Elders these days. Being an Elder and doing governance in a local church needs considerable understanding and experience. My observations and research would say less than half of Elders currently serving in local churches in NZ across the local church spectrum come even close to this. And that is a massive dilemma.

And finally. I often quietly wonder as I sit thinking early in the morning if ‘Christendom’ has given us a modern day church that has become rather bureaucratic, complex and top heavy rather than organic and simple?

What do you think?


Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.

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