A couple of days ago, I introduced this series on senior leadership teams. Today I want to take a look at the roles of this team. Again, I’m assuming for the purposes of this series that there is a separate team of elders if you are in a church. In this instance, I’m talking about the team at the top of the organization overseeing the day-to-day ministry and operations of the church.
These critical roles apply across any organization. It’s not uncommon for the Senior Pastor or CEO to own these responsibilities. What makes a great senior leadership team is when everyone on the team shares responsibility and ownership for these roles. When it’s a team rather than an individual, it leads to a healthier organization.
For an organization to be healthy, these are the seven roles of a senior leadership team that can’t be delegated:
- Modeling team-based ministry from the top of the organization. It gets very difficult to challenge other staff and volunteer leaders to build and develop teams in the church if it’s not being modeled from the top. More important, the senior leadership team needs to model what “healthy” team-based ministry looks like. We’ll cover that more in future posts, but this includes both healthy conflict and unwavering unity. (You can have both.)
- Identifying and implementing the strategy for accomplishing the vision. This, of course, assumes a clear vision for the church has previously been established. The senior leadership team, though, is ultimately responsible for identifying the strategies that will be used to accomplish that vision. They fill the gap between vision and execution.
- Leading the staff and volunteers. Every person, whether they are in a staff or volunteer role, needs to be connected through your organizational structure back to someone on the senior leadership team. There shouldn’t be any staff members, volunteers or ministries floating out there without leadership and direction connected back to the vision.
- Keeping everyone aligned and focused on the vision, strategy and execution priorities. In the early days of a church plant, this is much easier. Because there are fewer people initially, church plants stay very focused out of necessity. As churches grow, though, the senior leadership team will have to work hard to keep everyone focused on the church’s overall vision and ministry strategy. (As a side note, that means God may call someone in your church to launch a great ministry that’s not a part of the church’s vision and strategy. It just means that may be their personal mission, and not the church’s mission. When that happens, you need to encourage the individual but protect the church’s mission. We actually need more of that.)
- Considering and responding to the opportunities and threats that might impact the health of the church. Many times these come from outside the church. The senior leadership team needs to keep their eyes on the environment where ministry is taking place. It’s similar to engaging missions in a foreign land. We need to be aware of our surroundings to maximize the opportunities for change in our strategies. This is what will distinguish the churches that last for generations.
- Facilitating communications with other staff, volunteers and the church. No, once the church grows beyond two people, everyone won’t be included in every conversation that shapes the direction of the ministry. That said, every healthy organization needs good communications. Of course, since the rest of the staff and volunteers can’t be involved in every conversation, they have to be willing to trust their leadership.
- Monitoring key metrics and making sure the ministry is moving in a healthy direction. It does no good to continue “doing church” without knowing whether or not what you’re doing is helping people take their next steps toward Christ. You need a reality check. Is the church healthy? Are people taking steps? Are you reaching new people? Stories of life change are important, but as the church grows you’ll need more than intuition and feelings to measure the health of your vision and strategy.
How is your team doing in each of these areas? It might be helpful for you to take 15 minutes in your next senior leadership team and have some honest discussion about how your team is working in each role. Are you performing at your highest capacity?
What is missing from this list? What other role have you seen in your experience that is critical to building a strong senior leadership team? Join the conversation by sharing your comment.