Are Pastors Competitive Enough?

I subscribe to Leadership Journal and also have started reading the Out Of Ur blog on leadership. Recently, the above post caught my eye. Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE, made the claim that leaders of non-profits and churches don’t usually perform well as business leaders because they are not competitive enough. Andy Rowell comments and raises some questions about Welch’s statements. Read the whole post here.

Welch says the fundamental problem is that nonprofit people just can’t adjust to the competition.

They make decisions too slowly and do not care enough about results. Still, Jack says, the nonprofit person has some skills that are unique—primarily the ability to manage people without having money as a motivational tool.

The reality is most pastors must lead without much positional authority. (This varies, of course. Some traditions still give the pastoral office a significant amount of authority. But I would argue this is very rare today). If a pastor presses for change too quickly, they may be run out within a year. Therefore, pastors must be able to lead collaboratively (helping others feel ownership for decisions), inspirationally (keeping people’s spirits up about the mission) and subversively (persuading people to do what is right even when people’s first response is flowing from a desirer to be comfortable).

The blog post has a short and interesting discussion with the article. It is worth the time and even more worth the overall discussion.

My question is this: What advantage does competitiveness give to a pastor? What has the past emphasis of “church growth” created within the church world?

Now, understand what I mean by “church growth.” I am referring to the idea that if you build a better ministry they will come to your sheep pen rather than the one down the street. You know the principles of get more on your role and attendance will increase. That sort of thing. I am not talking about Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Church Health Model” or Bill Hybels’ “Seeker Sensitive Willow Creek Model.” Far too many people equate these things. They are not the same.

The Kingdom of God is still reeling from the ill effects of the “competitive” bent of pastors who developed in the 70’s. The whole idea of “build a better program” has created a society of individualized cannibal churches who seek to grow simply by attracting other church’s members through better salesmanship. They commit a kind of ministry prostitution to gain new members who are just there for the show. The church grows, pats itself on the back, and gains status among the other wolves of churchdom who are simply patting you on the back and smiling all the while plotting their own return to the top of the pyramid through becoming bigger and better than you, thereby stealing their former members back. The church growth culture has created a fracture amongst even like-minded churches that may very well be beyond repair. Time will tell.

The fracture created within the realm of “competitive ministry” has and will continue to have long-lasting effects on the church culture. We are not McDonald’s. We are not even Chick-fil-a. The questions are:

What does God have laid out for me? How has He designed me to fulfill a part of His plan for the world? What part do I play in order to impact the world for the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of the SBC, or worse, a particular leader in the SBC?


~ by bchatcher on November 16, 2007.

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