44 Lessons On Church Leadership From Lyle Schaller* (Part I)
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.
1. “If the discussion about the budget can be shifted from money to ministry, from economy to effectiveness, and from means to purpose, there may be no ceiling on what Christians will do to fulfill their calling.” Parish Planning, p. 46
2. Members of self-renewing congregations who operate from a balanced sense of purpose 1) know who they are and where they are going; 2) are able to assimilate members by a deliberate, conscious and intentional effort; 3) are more sensitive and responsive to the contemporary needs of people 4) are less interest in continuing traditions, customs and old organizational structures; 5) they know and believe in what their church is doing; 6) expect to overcome crises, no matter how large; 7) have redundant communication–no secrets, and few disruptive surprises; 8) encourage discussion of differences; 9) are not overly dependent on any one leader; and 10) recognize that their church is merely one of many expressions of Christ’s church. Parish Planning, pp. 73-75.
3. “The probability of failure in an organization (system) decreases exponentially as redundancy factors [in communication] are increased.” Parish Planning, p. 225.
4. “Innovation is basically the adding of something new, rather than the reform or replacement of an existing element. The effective innovator, therefore, emphasizes that what he is proposing is change by addition, not change by alteration, or change by subtraction.” Parish Planning, p. 86
5. “The effective innovator is the person who is willing to share the credit generously for successes, and to carry gracefully by himself the blame for the failures.” Parish Planning, p. 87.
6. “[Do not] mistake politeness for agreement. People have a natural tendency to avoid disagreement or unpleasantness and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the local church.” Parish Planning, p. 121.
7. “The greater the sense of mutual trust, the fewer the limitations on what a congregation can do. The greater the toleration of diversity, the larger the opportunities for ministry and for personal growth through study and response in service.” Parish Planning, p. 156.
8. “Everyone naturally turns to look to the past for guidance. This is normal and natural, since a person knows the past with greater certainty than he knows the future.” Parish Planning, p. 170.
9. “You really can’t begin to understand the gospel until you are called on to tell others about Jesus Christ.” Parish Planning, p. 188
10. The higher the level of conflict, the greater the likelihood that one or both parties will resort to legalism and/or litigation. The Change Agent.
11. “In most congregations the internal reward system recognizes and expresses appreciation for the work of lay volunteers with adults, with youth, and with the administrative apparatus of the church. Persons who work with children, however, usually have very low visibility, tend to be overlooked, and are more likely to be awarded dead rats rather than silver beavers.” Effective Church Planning, p. 130.
12. Guilt can be induced in congregations by “unlimited tenure systems;” urging people to accept job they do not enjoy and do not want; motivating contributions, attendance and service by Law rather than Gospel; articulating vague goals, i.e. without stating who is responsible and the projected timetable for attainment of the goal; and using the phrase, “We ought to do more.” Effective Church Planning, pp. 150-1.
13. The fruits of motivating by pushing the ‘guilt’ button are deep and lasting hostility. Efforts to implement a legalistic approach to motivation appear to produce divisive and destructive conflict. By contrast, efforts to motivate people through an emphasis on a neighbor-centered, loving [Gospel-oriented] approach produces healthy fruits. Effective Church Planning, p. 160.
14. “As pastors move away from the old pattern of trying to live up to some idealized model of ministry and begin to identify, affirm, and build on their own strengths, they tend to develop a leadership style that not only is compatible with a potentialities-based planning model, but they also begin to develop an aptitude for identifying, affirming, and building on the strengths and potentialities of individual members of the congregation.” Effective Church Planning, p. 170.
15. Numerical growth in small churches happens 1) rarely; 2) reluctantly; 3) only by accepting significant changes; 4) when several members committing themselves to an ‘adopt-a-member’ strategy; 5) when smaller churches find themselves surrounded by a flood of newcomers who ‘take over’ control of the church and change the style of congregational life; 6) by attracting a disproportionately large number of that three percent of the church population who move into a community and immediately become hard, faithful, and self-starting workers in the church; 7) by committing themselves to a serious study of the Bible with an emphasis on evangelism and discipleship; 8) when the church implements a multi-year ministry growth program which requires that the pastor’s tenure last at least five or six years to finish completely. Growing Plans, pp. 16-17.
16. “The greater the lay control in any size congregation, the less likely it is that the congregation will begin and maintain significant numerical growth.” Growing Plans, p. 18.
17. “I have found no evident to suggest that the commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is any less among the members of the small-membership churches than it is among the members of rapidly growing churches. They may be some difference in how members of different churches express their Christian commitment, but that is a different subject from the depth of commitment.” Growing Plans, p. 21.
18. “From the days of the New Testament churches to today, orthodox Christianity has experienced great difficulty in reaching and including in worshiping congregations people who have no hope for tomorrow.” It’s a Different World, p. 39.
19. “Professionals in the church tend to think in terms of functional categories, while the laity often conceptualize reality in terms of relationships.” Activating The Passive Church, p. 20.
20. When a congregation’s governing body drifts into a permission-withholding stance when new ideas, ministries and programs are proposed, this tends to inhibit the creativity of the members, halt the flow of creative ideas, and encourage passivity. Activating The Passive Church, p. 48.
21. “Looking backward and second-guessing the past tends to be one of the most fertile sources of passivity.” Activating The Passive Church, p. 49.
22. “Polity and size are the two most influential factors in shaping the role of the pastor and the relationship between the minister and the lay leaders.” Activating The Passive Church, p. 32.
(To be continued on Monday)
Thomas F. Fischer
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