Leadership Formation in the Church

By Kent Carlson
VP of Spiritual Formation

“As leaders, the most important thing we bring to the church is the person we are becoming, because that’s what everybody sees, that’s what gets reproduced, and that’s what people will trust. Therefore, we must order our lives in such a way that we as persons and as a leadership team are experiencing increasing contentment, contagious joy, and a deepening confidence in God.” —Dallas Willard

Leadership teams in churches have dozens of relatively important decisions to make every year. Some of those decisions will be very significant decisions that deeply impact the life of the church. There is a danger, though, in focusing most of our energy in getting the decisions right. We try our best, of course, but we can count on the fact that a certain percentage of our decisions will turn out to be either unwise or have negative implications. It’s just the nature of the beast. During times of high stress or difficulties, where we had many high-impact decisions facing us over the course of a month, I would usually gather our elders together and remind us all that we will not get every one of these decisions right, so let’s aim for seven out of ten and be kind with ourselves if we don’t meet that goal.

If we consider all this carefully, we will see that making an unwise decision here and there throughout the year rarely has a significantly negative impact on the church. I speak from experience. There are so many decisions to make that it is impossible to get them all right. But what does impact the church significantly is how we make the decision. If the leadership team is humble, kind, discerning, and gracious, as opposed to contentious, demanding, controlling, or exhibiting a power over others mentality, the formational results for the church are always, in the long-run, good. This requires a commitment to our own personal and communal formation. Who we are together, as leaders who walk the way of Jesus, this becomes a transformational power in the church, regardless of the decisions we make.

The following is a brief story of one leadership team at Brentview Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta. Kent Werner, the chairperson of the elder board, shares a little of his story during a time of decision-making and communal formation on the elder board. It is a story of discernment and changed plans and experiencing the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit during the midst of all of it.

If you desire to learn more about how your church leadership team can get into the details of formation and discernment, please contact Kent Carlson. In addition to personal consultation and coaching, we have a year-long process that you may be interested in, which can be adapted during this pandemic season.