There has been increasing concern expressed regarding a deficit of individuals with the gift and competencies as leaders able to grow churches and build Christian ministries throughout Australia. A major finding in the Research Project of Directions 2012 for Baptist Churches in NSW and ACT was that church leadership was “the most significant influence on church health and growth”.[i] Sydney Anglicans have commenced a program, based on comprehensive research, to address the perceived deficiency of leadership in their churches. The Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania in early 2012 made a plea for more leaders, as distinct from more ministers or elders. [ii] It has been argued that only 11% of Australian church leaders have a personality type claimed to most effectively result in an “owned vision” and leading to numerical growth in Australian churches.[iii]
A parallel concern, involving far more people than church leaders, is the compromised witness through “compartmentalisation” of Christian leaders employed in secular organisations. This reflects the difficulties many leaders face in living their Christian values in their secular employment and other roles.
The writer was privileged as part of a research project to have the opportunity to interview fifteen Christian Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) employed with not-for profit organisations. The majority felt that there are, or at least should be, significant differences in Christian and secular approaches to leadership. Several acknowledged that many fine leaders are not Christians and that being a Christian by no means is a guarantee of effective leadership.
Nevertheless, it was argued that Christian leaders should have a different worldview to their non-Christian colleagues, recognising that all people are created in God’s image, with the capacity to know God and accept or reject his redemption plan. It was asserted that there is no single, correct approach to Christian leadership, the style and practices depending on the situation. One might expect however the Christian’s “inner core’ and values to be reflected in characteristics such as humility, a lesser emphasis on the quest for personal gain, an empathy with staff and commitment to their development, integrity, ethical behaviour, and a recognition that one’s ultimate accountability is to God.
All leaders give evidence over time and in various ways of their core values. These are particularly evident in crisis situations. These issues will be explored in later articles.
[i] Pratt, J (2011), Directions 2012 Research Project: “Growing healthy Churches”, Voices from the Churches.
Sydney: Baptist Union of NSW & ACT / University of Technology Sydney
[ii] Cameron, P (2012), ENews, Conference of Churches of Christ, Victoria and Tasmania, March
[iii] Kaldor, P & McLean, J (2009), Lead with your Strengths: Making a Difference wherever you are. Sydney