Church Leadership Essentials: What Every Pastor Needs to Know

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What is the most important leadership skill needed among pastors for this season of the Protestant church in America? Increasingly, I am focusing my time and attention on discerning the answer to that critical question. While it is dangerous to paint with too broad a brush, it appears to me that pastors of established churches as opposed to church plants — excluding megachurches for now — face a common scenario. Almost invariably, their churches are in decline.

Thus, I am convinced the essential skillset needed for the majority of pastors today can be described as turnaround leadership. Unfortunately, training as a turnaround specialist is a relatively unexplored concept in theological education, and very few ministers enter the ministry with those talents cultivated and honed.

Most of us have had to learn on the job, as the season of church growth has given way to widespread decline. There is, however, a growing body of work available related to turnaround skills in the corporate arena, and we can learn a great deal from them as we navigate these uncharted waters. Translating ideas from one world to another can be risky, but there is merit to understanding how others have stopped the decline of an organization and brought fresh vitality, energy and direction to people who thought their future was bleak.

Scan the web for articles about the psychology of turnaround leadership, and be prepared for a lengthy reading session. In my research, four core principles have emerged that seem to have relevance for ministers in churches that are facing decline and longing for turnaround. Declining congregations often have lost sight of their primary reason s for being and are dejected, dispirited and depressed. A turnaround pastor sees something in them, in their setting and in their DNA that, if properly nurtured, can become the fire that generates energy and passion for the future.

Jesus saw something in his disciples and others he encountered that most people simply could not see. He looked beyond their failures Peter and their liabilities tax collectors and invited them to imagine a future that was more than they could fathom or imagine. That ability to see what others cannot see is a key trait of a turnaround leader. When churches are in a season of decline, the congregational culture often descends into a season marked by secrecy, scapegoating, isolation, turf-protection and passivity.

Life Together

Staff members and key leaders desperately need a catalytic leader who can make the covert overt and bring to life a culture where conversation and dialogue is normative. Greg Atkinson has the uncanny ability to get to the heart of issues, and offer solutions and resolutions in a practical and meaningful way.


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He packs 34 key leadership principles into concise but powerful chapters. This book is the vital leadership training that many seminaries fa Think of this book as a toolbox full of leadership tools for pastors and other church leaders. This book is the vital leadership training that many seminaries fail to offer.

It can revolutionize your ministry. Get A Copy.

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Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 05, David Hardin rated it liked it. Some great tips but as many assumptions. This is a quick easy read. If you are brand new to ministry there are a lot of great practical lifelong principles to make a part of your ministry. There are also a lot of assumptions of how to "do church" taken from nondenominational contemporary mega churches. Attempting many of these ideas even if they are good in established traditional church just simply won't work.


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