Servant Leadership: Practices
Conduct: Three Interactive Leadership Models
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® 1:3
- Charting Your Course
As a practicing servant leader today, you make choices about changing leadership
as the situation changes--and you do so quite often. My home church pastor,
Rev. Bill James Bell, was an able and faithful minister of change. Because I
was part-time, teenage custodian, I knew a little about his schedule and leadership.
One Saturday, it went something like this:
A.M. - A planning breakfast deacon's meeting
A.M. - Supervision of custodian (namely, Lloyd Elder)
Noon - Conducting a small church wedding
2:00 P.M. - Memorial service of a church member
Late Afternoon - Evangelistic/enlistment visitation
Evening - preached a revival service at a neighboring church
In the larger scheme of things, the effective minister changes the model (pattern)
of leadership as the ministry situation changes.
In charting your course, three proven contemporary models of leadership are
complementary and interactive in the practice of servant leadership.
“Conduct,” expressed in styles and models, becomes two sides of
the same coin:
- Style refers to the pattern of behavior and manner of
life customary in a leader’s performance of functions and tasks in changing
situations. These are presented in SL#67,
#68, and #69.
- Model refers to a consistent shape, pattern, and process
in the practice of a leader’s influencing the achievement of organizational
mission and goals. An understanding of style and model is often best seen
as complimentary parts of the whole. Presented here are three contemporary
leadership models(there are others) through which you may practice servant
Model #1: Mission/Vision-Centered Leadership usually is highly
participative and includes elements of other models--prophetic, charismatic,
and transformational; it works with congregational issues and its suborganizations.
It also moves toward intentional results. (this article--SL#70)
Model #2: Coaching/Team Leadership usually ranges from directive
to participative styles; it expresses pastoral, equipping, “frontline”
and educational models. The coaching model works naturally toward the other
two. Model #1 and Model #3
Model #3: Management/Administrative Leadership is often
directive in seeking to be efficient and high-task performance; it works
through structures, policies, programs, people, and other resources. (see
Two other leadership styles are reported but not recommended: “Controlling”
and “Retreating.” They are “out-of-bounds” when
they become too much of a good thing. Directive moves toward “controlling,”
even over-management; “participating,” when over-emphasized,
becomes “retreating,” even hands-off dreamers.
Model #1 Mission/Vision-Centered
Source: This model is abstracted from SkillTrack Vol. #2 - Mission-Centered
Leadership: Translating Vision Into Reality by James D. Williams and Lloyd
Elder, published by the Moench Center for Church Leadership, Belmont University,
Summary: Model Objective and Content: The mission-centered
leadership model is a significant expression of CLGrid (8,8) --Transformative
Style (see p.54)-- and of the highest levels of congregational servant leadership.
Mission-centered leadership is the capacity to lead the congregation:
- to establish a kingdom-size mission as its true center;
- to assess its actual situation, opportunities, and challenges;
- to cast vision, objectives, and goals toward the future; and
- to empower the members to translate vision into reality.
- Warren Bennis--“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision
- Max DePree--“Every organization, in order to be healthy, to have
renewal processes, to survive, has to be in touch with reality. I happen to
believe that the first duty of a leader is to define reality.”
- Stephen R. Covey--“A mission statement that results from broad-based
involvement and that is based on principles [is like] a compass needed in
the hands of every associate.”
- What is at the center of your church? That is the impelling question. When
kingdom mission starts and stays at the core, servant leadership impacts every
1. A Mission-Centered Planning Model
A mission-centered model of planning moves the church from vision to reality
(see Steps in Planning graph later in this article).
- Mission Statement - used synonymously with purpose, describes
what the church was designed to do; it describes why the church exists through
- Vision Statement - states what the church will do about
its mission in space and time, usually representing the dream and prophetic
voice of church leadership interacting with the congregation.
- Situation - assessing the factors that characterize the
environment of the church and its community, including external information
(demographics and changing social structures of the community) and internal
information (statistical data, profile information on membership); also identifying
the values and aspirations of the congregation, accurate future forecasting,
and planning assumptions.
- Direction/Action - objectives, goals, and strategies flowing
out of the mission/vision. Objectives are broad outcome statements that identify
priorities and directions for an organization. Goals are more specific, precise,
measurable statements of intention. Strategies describe the most effective
action steps to achieving goals.
- Implementation - the process of putting action plans into
place, describing in specific terms what we plan to do, when, who will have
responsibility for it, and what resources (fiscal and human) are necessary
to carry it through to successful completion. The steps for implementation
have to do with strategizing, scheduling, recruiting and assigning, resourcing,
- Results/Reality - Mission-centered leadership seeks real
results, not merely activities. All good planning seeks to evaluate outcomes,
or “how well we have done.”
2. Mission: Purposes of the Church
- To Worship - A host of passages makes it clear that the
wellspring of the church is worship. “To him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
- To Fellowship - The NT word koinonia implies
that “all” the saints are bound together by the Spirit in love
and unity with one another. Eph. 3:18 provides a wonderful contextual phrase
. . . “with all the saints.”
- To Disciple (Educate) - This cardinal purpose of the church
emerges directly from the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).
- To Minister - Unless the church cares actively and deeply
for people--all people--it cannot be effective in witnessing to the power
of Christ’s redeeming love.
- To Evangelize (missionize) - At the heart of the Great
Commission, is the imperative of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ (Matt.
28:18-20). There is no boundary that Jesus does not cross, nor want His followers
3. Developing a Mission Statement
The mission of the church is the living out of its nature; it is doing what
Christ would do if He were here in the flesh. When members have reached consensus
on what God wants them to do, then everyone can begin to say, “This is
my church and this is my contribution to its mission.” Six steps lead
the church to develop, redefine, or renew its mission statement:
- Search the Scriptures - begin with biblical guidance.
- Ask and answer key mission questions of the church.
- Collect and tabulate responses from members.
- Write a single-sentence mission statement; a concise yet comprehensive
statement that raises the following questions: Is it biblical? Is it specific?
Is it memorable? Is it measurable?
- Push the mission statement into your future; it may emerge as your church
- Adopt, communicate, and celebrate your church’s mission statement.
Let it become a watchword and a commitment for the whole church.
4. Casting and Communicating Vision
Mission-centered leadership develops and communicates a motivating,
energizing vision. Guidelines include:
- Bathe in prayer: “What is God’s vision for us?”
- Create a vision, put it into clear words.
- Communicate that vision to others (small and large groups).
- Remember that vision always involves a participating team.
- Captivate others by using metaphors, parables and pictures.
- Build support for the vision; repeat the vision over and over.
- Coach others to create commitment to the vision.
- Use emotionally charged words to elicit excitement.
- Secure both organizational and personal acceptance.
- Keep clear the mission and vision.
5. Assessing the Congregation’s
Leaders know or want to know answers to key questions:
- How is God at work in us now; wants us to do?
- Where has the congregation been; is headed?
- What are the memorable stories from the church’s history?
- What has been accomplished; in ministry areas?
- What are the congregation’s values; its culture?
- What part of the community is the church reaching or not?
- What are the environmental factors that the church faces?
- What are the demographic, economic, political, legal, and ethical forces
at work in the church community?
- What steps should the church take to serve the community?
- What is necessary to create a “community of commitment” that
will live out its core values, dreams, and goals?
6. Direction: Action Planning
Objectives should be written for each of the five church functions, answering
six strategic questions:
- Why? - How does this proposed ministry/action plan advance
the congregation toward its mission/vision?
- Who? - What publics/groups within the church and community
will be involved and impacted by the ministry action plan?
- What? - What measurable, beneficial impact will the ministry/action
plan have on the church, community, world?
- When? - When--time urgency--is the implementation of the
ministry/action plan, and what is its degree of risk?
- Where? - Where should this ministry action plan be implemented?
- How? - What skilled leadership will be required and how
much will it cost to train and deploy them?
7. Implementing the Vision Toward Reality
Keeping the mission/vision clearly in mind, a good implementation plan includes:
- Strategizing - “What actions will we take?”
- Scheduling - “When will each activity take place?”
- Recruiting and Assigning - “Who is responsible to
see that it takes place?”
- Resourcing - “What are the equipment, space, money,
and worker needs to carry out the activity?”
- Monitoring - “How will we check up to be sure the
plan is functioning properly, with results, and on time?”
a Sound Financial System
Visionary plans cannot be implemented without funding. “Can we afford
it?” “How can we afford it?” “Can we afford not
to do it?” Steps: 1) promotes biblical stewardship; 2) establishes ministry
priorities; 3) budgets and spends wisely; 4) practices controls; 5) chooses
capable financial leaders.
9. Providing Adequate Facilities
A mission-centered church seeks to provide adequate space and facilities for
new and expanded ministries. Space should be planned, affordable, balanced,
and used efficiently.
Conclusion: Measuring Results Against Plans
Evaluation is the “reality check,” measuring performance against
plans, seeking not merely activity but “real results”-- such measuring
is a dynamic process guided by knowledgeable people, with proper standards.
Evaluation helps move the church from survival, to success, to significance.
That’s “translating vision into reality.”
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© 2006 servantleaderstoday.com; hosted and copyrighted
by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at www.servantleaderstoday.com
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership