There are many types of church leaders. The two common extremes are overtly pious leaders known for threats of damnation and sermons about hellfire, and overly passive leaders known for telling people what they want to hear to keep members from leaving. These two extremes are problematic for obvious reasons.
A high-quality leader lives somewhere in the middle. Church leaders are responsible for showing their congregation an accurate, comprehensive, and convicting view of what it means to live according to their faith. This means having compassion, but always standing firm when it comes to values and beliefs. This often isn’t easy. It can be challenging and sometimes even harsh, but it can also be uplifting.
A church leader should live in such a way that he or she reflects these values. This will help the leader gain the trust of the congregation.
Here are five tips that can help a church leader do this effectively.
1. Be inclusive
It’s difficult to grow your congregation if your church seems exclusive and unwelcoming. A leader should encourage their members to embrace new people and avoid being judgmental and critical of others. A quality church leader will make it known that all people are welcome in the church no matter what they look like, believe, practice, or how they live. All people are worthy of receiving love and grace, and a quality leader will reflect this.
2. Embrace the uncomfortable
Many people feel uncomfortable discussing topics like racism, sexuality, identity, abuse, and doubt. But a high-quality church leader will become comfortable approaching these topics and create a safe environment for others to share their thoughts and opinions. This is the best way to help people and embrace acceptance and reconciliation.
3. Become accessible
Church leaders who are only seen on Sunday mornings or at the head of important meetings are not accessible to their members. Instead, an excellent church leader is one who is accessible to anyone who has need of them. If a churchgoer needs to pray, talk, or receive advice, the leader should be there to engage with them. This is not to say that church leaders are not allowed to have downtime and rest, but a quality church leader will find a balance between their own rest and meeting the needs of their congregation.
4. Speak the truth
A church leader who simply teaches the sweet, easy, and pleasing parts of the Bible or other religious text is likely not giving their congregation the entire story. If a church leader is only preaching what they know people want to hear, they are doing them a disservice. In short, a quality church leader must tell the truth even when it is hard, uncomfortable, or downright devastating. Preaching one side of the coin is not efficient, and a strong leader understands this even if it means losing members, receiving harsh emails, or other (inevitable) backlash.
5. Encourage diversity
If you find yourself in a church where everyone looks like you and thinks like you, chances are this area needs attention. A strong church leader will encourage diversity in their church, making a point to invite people from all walks of life to hear the good news they are preaching. A church should consist of all races, ages, political views, and schools of thought in order to help others learn and encourage tolerance and understanding. It may not be the most comfortable setting at times, but a good leader understands diversity is important because it reflects the world in which we live.