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Leadership Crisis

In a strange sort of way I hope you don’t need this article. But just in case, if you and your church are in a difficult season with a potential leadership crisis, I trust the thoughts in this article will be helpful to you.

I love the local church, and at God’s invitation, I have given my life to it. Overall it continues to be the most rewarding endeavor I could possibly imagine. When the church is working as God designed it, there is nothing quite like it. There are other times, however, when the church is a mess. Personally, I’m highly motivated either way. Success or mess, I love the church, and I’m fired up to help strengthen it any way I can.

This article is written to leaders who find themselves in a mess of crisis proportion. First, let me say take heart. You can navigate through tough times no matter what is happening. Keep these four things in mind.

  1. It’s not your church. It belongs to God, and He cares even more than you do.
  2. Set your vision on the long haul, not the short run.
  3. Don’t panic. God isn’t panicking and remember He’s the owner.
  4. Think much and pray more.

I love the local church, and at God’s invitation, I have given my life to it.

I can’t tell you I’ve seen or heard it all because I haven’t. But I have listened to hundreds of first hand accounts of churches in trouble. What sets them apart from each other is how well they solved the problem. A classic story, somewhat generalized for the purpose of this article, is a church split. Church splits happen too often. In fact, depending upon your definition, they may happen more often than you imagine. If you include each time more than one couple leaves a church, meaning two or more families leave over the same reason, splits happen on a regular basis in many churches. More typically, however, we refer to the more dramatic splits where it’s more like a 60% – 40% kind of fissure that makes headlines.

So let’s take a more dramatic case, since the topic is Leadership Crisis. A church in San Antonio, Texas wanted to sell their property, relocate and build a new building. More accurately stated, the Pastor, staff and board wanted to relocate. It was a congregational government so a vote was taken. The membership was split nearly 50-50. The older generation wanted to stay, and they controlled the money. The younger generation wanted to go and they controlled the volunteer power. This is overstated, but accurate enough to paint a picture of what happened. So the pastor and board made the call, it was time to sell and relocate.

No one would have guessed what happened next. The tension got so thick, and the infighting became so all-consuming that the Senior Pastor took it as a sign from God to resign. He delivered his final message, packed up his office and left. No fuss, no muss. No drama. Just gone. He had been there for 9 years and the people loved him.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2019

About the Author: Dan Reiland is executive pastor of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He is the author of Amplified Leadership: 5 Practices to Establish Influence, Build People, and Impact Others for a Lifetime (Charisma House, 2012), Shoulder To Shoulder Strengthening Your Church By Supporting Your Pastor (Thomas Nelson, 1997), and From a Father's Heart: Letters of Encouragement to Children and Grandchildren (Thomas Nelson, 1999). Twitter: @DanReiland

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