I recently caught up with Tony Morgan to talk about his new book, “Take the Lid Off Your Church, 6 Steps to Building a Healthy Senior Leadership Team.” It just released on Amazon! Click here to get your hands on a copy and check out the interview below.
Paul: You recently released the book “Take the Lid Off Your Church, 6 Steps to Building a Healthy Senior Leadership Team.” Why does every church need a Senior Leadership Team?
Tony: Because God designed ministry, including leadership, to be accomplished through teams. He modeled it with the disciples. It was the system he used for for the early church beginning with sending out the disciples in teams of two. In America and even in churches, we tend to think of leadership as an individual. That’s not the way God designed leadership especially within the context of the church. If ministry is supposed to happen in teams, it better be modeled at the top of the organization.
Paul: What is the connection between the Senior Leadership Team of a church and barriers or lids that keep the church from growing?
Tony: There are a number of factors that cause churches to get stuck. Certainly key factors include unity of vision, values and strategy. Additionally, leadership capacity is an issue. All of these considerations flow from the health (or lack of health) with the senior leadership team. If they aren’t unified, the church will not be unified. If they aren’t empowering each other to lead through their strengths, the church will not engage people to use their spiritual gifts to their fullest. Of course, one key to healthy senior leadership teams is helping them understand the roles they can’t delegate. Unfortunately, too many teams invest too much time responding to what’s urgent rather than focusing on the priorities. When that happens, the church is guaranteed to get stuck.
Paul: When most people hear the term “Sr. Leadership Team” associated with the church, they automatically start thinking “mega-church.” How are the concepts in this book helpful to “normal” churches?
Tony: If you’re waiting to establish a healthy senior leadership team until you become a megachurch, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever experience that type of growth. I argue that building a healthy senior leadership culture needs to begin as early as possible in the life of the church. In the early days, that may mean that qualified lay people are part of that team. As churches grow, it’s not uncommon for the team to be composed of paid staff. The size of your church is no excuse, though, to delay establishing healthy leadership at the top of the organization.
Paul: As a church grows over time are their stages of life or attendance thresholds where a Sr. Leadership Team needs to change how it’s structure or how it operates to lead into the future?
Tony: If your church is growing rapidly, your structure will probably need to change frequently. It wouldn’t be unusual for some churches to have to reassess structure every 18 to 24 months if they are experiencing unusual growth. The key thing to think about is span of care. Once a team grows beyond six to eight people, it’s almost impossible to both get ministry done and provide appropriate care. And, frankly, the dynamic in meetings has to change once you get beyond eight people. At that point, it’s very difficult for everyone to contribute to the conversation and engage in decision-making. If you are routinely monitoring span of care at every level of your ministry (both staff and volunteers), it’ll force you to rethink structure to maintain health. Of course, the other key factor driving structure change is a strategy shift. It’s very difficult to shift strategy unless you’re also willing to shift the structure.
Paul: You’ve personally served on the Sr. Leadership Teams of 3 very influential churches. If you knew then what you know now, what could you have done differently to make those teams more successful?
Tony: Even in the healthiest of teams, there will be seasons of dysfunction. If you’re in leadership, Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team should be mandatory reading with periodic refreshers. And, this is going to sound self-serving, but I think the healthiest of teams also need a coach to help root out that dysfunction and preserve team health. When we’re living out ministry leadership day after day, it’s very difficult for us to discern the small tweaks that may be needed when it comes to building trust, managing conflict, making sure everyone is pulling the same direction, etc. And this is coming from a guy that’s worked with several great teams. Don’t try to go at it alone. Develop an ongoing relationship with someone who knows your team and isn’t afraid to engage the tough conversations that pastors like to avoid.
Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of TonyMorganLive.com. He’s a consultant, leadership coach and writer who helps churches get unstuck and have a bigger impact. More important, he has a passion for people. He’s all about helping people meet Jesus and take steps in their faith.
For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). With Tim Stevens, Tony has co-authored Simply Strategic Stuff, Simply Strategic Volunteers and Simply Strategic Growth – each of which offers valuable, practical solutions for different aspects of church ministry. His book, Killing Cockroaches (B&H Publishing) challenges leaders to focus on the priorities in life and ministry. His most recent books on leadership and ministry strategy are available on Kindle.
Posted in Leadership, Staffing