Christian leaders can face a daunting task in trying to both lead the church to fulfill God’s vision, and maintain relevancy in a rapidly changing society. In order to manage what can, at times, be a delicate balancing act, the modern Christian leader has had to update his or her leadership toolkit. Here are three tools leaders are using to put God’s vision into action:
Less Organizational Structure
Society has changed a great deal in the last few decades and the church has often been a leader in resisting this change. As a result, the unchurched often feel uncomfortable and out of place in a church service. In the Christian leaders’ new toolkit, the priority is moving beyond just maintaining a structured service of listening to a sermon for a set length of time and singing a certain number of songs, to making disciples, ministering to people and reaching those who need Jesus. This shift in focus to relational intimacy can be seen in the number of traditional churches that now offer small group ministries and the growth of house churches as reported by George Barna in his book, “Futurecast”.
This change in focus toward relationships is also making its way into how leaders approach evangelism. In a recent interview, Francis Chan stated that evangelism today is too impersonal. Christians go to church to be comfortable and socialize with other Christians. They are not interested in activities that make them feel awkward, which includes building relationships with unbelievers. Leaders like pastor Chan are now beginning to personally lead their groups outside of the church walls and into the community to make relationships with and minister to the unchurched.
Members Should be Ministers
As Ed Stetzer points out, people are naturally drawn to a religious system where there are both rituals to perform and a hierarchy, so that the people become watchers of religion while out-sourcing the work of religion to the pastors. Christianity, however, is not just another man-made religion and was never meant to function like one. Recently, churches that have been highly effective, called “transformational” churches by Dr. Stetzer, have been trying to move past this minister/laity divide to become what some call “missional” churches. These churches teach that the ministry of the church is the responsibility of all of the members, not just a special class of ministers. It takes a lot of work to undo a habit that goes back hundreds of years but those leaders who can break down the wall creating a separation between ministers and members will be able to mobilize a powerful force for the advancement of the kingdom.
Like it or not, in this age of instant gratification, instant communication, and the ability to instantly access information, Christian leaders find it increasingly difficult to maintain relevance if they refuse to utilize technology for the greater good of the kingdom. While large churches have had radio and television ministries for decades, the modern Christian leader needs to add a strong Internet presence, including a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account to his or her toolkit. Additionally, the church itself needs to implement the latest technological strategies to present the word in ways that will reach more people.
Leaders are getting more personal and loving with members and unbelievers alike, encouraging others to minister and show them they are needed and loved, and using technology to keep up with societal changes. Churches leaders are increasingly aware of where society is going, where God is working and how to love, communicate and listen to everyone.
Jill Douglas is a church administrator and guest author at Online Christian Colleges, where she contributed to the guide to the Top 10 Best Online Christian Colleges.