Servant Leadership: Practices
Conduct: Three Interactive Leadership Models
Mission/Vision-Centered Leadership” (SL#70)

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:

Model #1 Mission/Vision-Centered Leadership

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, 1999, 2004.

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:

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).


2. Mission: Purposes of the Church

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:

4. Casting and Communicating Vision
Mission-centered leadership develops and communicates a motivating, energizing vision. Guidelines include:

5. Assessing the Congregation’s Situation
Leaders know or want to know answers to key questions:

6. Direction: Action Planning
Objectives should be written for each of the five church functions, answering six strategic questions:

7. Implementing the Vision Toward Reality
Keeping the mission/vision clearly in mind, a good implementation plan includes:

8. Establishing 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; hosted and copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership