PROMISES GREAT REWARDS!
CONGREGATIONAL LEADERS MUST DEAL WITH NUMEROUS CHALLENGES.
THREE AREAS OF CONCERN ARE CONSTANT:
ISOLATION, OVERWORK AND BURNOUT OF CONGREGATIONAL LEADERS:
Congregational leaders can be isolated by being placed on a pedestal and put in the spotlight. Many congregational members hold their leaders to higher standards than they hold for themselves. Other congregational members may think that the Leader “only works one day a week”, and this can tempt a leader to “prove them wrong” by overworking.
PROGRAM OVERLOAD AND EXHAUSTION:
A congregation of any size can have too many programs. Even one program that fails to help a congregation meet its mission is one program too many.
MINDING THE GAPS BETWEEN THE DESIRED COMMUNITIES AND THE PERCEIVED REALITIES:
Members and Non-members come to a congregation expecting community. In many congregations there is a gap between member and nonmember expectations of community and connection. There is also a gap between the community expectations and the perception of the actual community. There is yet another gap between members and non-members surrounding the perceptions of the community. These gaps have significant consequences.
THE COST OF THESE PROBLEMS ARE HIGH
LEADERSHIP ISOLATION, OVERWHELM, AND BURNOUT...
...eclipses a leader's presence, clouds their thinking and stifles creativity. These factors can rob them of physical, spiritual, psychological and social health. This can Jeopardize the leader’s vision and the mission for their own life and the life of the congregation that they serve.
PROGRAMS THAT DON’T WORK...
...waste human resource, time, money, and leisure opportunities, while failing to meet the missional needs of the congregation and the needs of members and non-members. This leads to the burnout of staff and volunteers, and apathy on the part of members and non-members. Ending unneeded programs improperly can lead to backlash from committed supporters of the program and cause distracting and destructive conflict (even if the program is causing them to overwork and burnout!) If there is a congregational history of burnout from such programs, there may be resistance from both congregation and staff to engage in important new programs.
THE LARGER THE GAPS...
...between the communities of connection that are hoped for and the perceptions of the reality of what exists, the greater likelihood of disappointment, disillusionment and conflict. This can reduce or halt your non-member conversion to member and create member apathy or even members converting to non-members.
THE GOOD NEWS...
The Good News is that these challenges, that seem to be obstacles, are marking the path out of the wilderness and into the promised community for which we yearn. The benefits of successfully addressing these challenges are not only great, they are essential!
RESTED AND REFRESHED
When leadership has the necessary time for rest, recreation, and reflection, they are refreshed. With their creativity, presence, and health restored, their focus on the realization of the vision and their strategic thinking on carrying out the mission becomes more effective.
MISSION RESOURCES RECOVERED
Recovering the resources of time, talent, and treasure from non-essential programs in the proper way allows all those resources to be re-directed to those activities that improve the realization of the congregation’s mission and vision with full devotion and without emotional blowback.
GROWING CONNECTED COMMUNITY
Creating the conditions that will improve and foster true human engagement and connection between leaders, staff, members and prospective members increases trust and creates a contagion of hope without the need for hyperactive and exhausting efforts on the part of the leadership. When people find the community of their hopes, or even more than they dared to hope, they are moved to share that community with others.
TODD ECKBLAD, M.DIV, ACC
Congregation Leadership Coach
As a former clergy leader, I have served large, medium, and small congregations, and understand the unique challenges faced by congregational leaders. I admire the courage and passion that they possess to take on these challenges. I have struggled with and learned to utilize and successfully navigate these challenges to create engaging ministries and programs that organically thrive. Ministries that thrive, not due to the charisma of any one leader or a group of leaders, but by the God-given charisma of the members and non-member attenders of each congregation that I served. So, if you would like to do congregational ministry with less stress, conflict, and decline, while experiencing more joy, engagement, and growth we should talk. Contact at me at (201) 897-2383 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.