Developing a Leadership Culture in the Church - Lesson 2

Answers to Common Questions

Common questions raised regarding leadership in the church often focus on the areas of qualifications, the role of communication, evolving structure and core values.

Mark Olmos
Developing a Leadership Culture in the Church
Lesson 2
Watching Now
Answers to Common Questions

I. Qualifications

II. How does this ministry structure function?

A. Meetings

B. Mission

C. Communication

D. Growth and restructuring

III. What about small churches?

IV. Leadership culture

A. Leadership training

V. Core values

A. Loving God

B. Loving people

C. Passion for the vision


  • Four commitments that are essential to creating a culture of leadership are commitment to sharing, developing people, growth and making leadership a priority.
  • Common questions raised regarding leadership in the church often focus on the areas of qualifications, the role of communication, evolving structure and core values.
  • The process of developing lay pastors follows the pattern of identifying elders that are shepherding people, training them, commissioning them when they are ready, leaving them in the areas you found them and deploying them with clear orders.

Mark Olmos shares how to create a structure and church-wide mindset that pinpoints where leaders are needed, identifies who the potential leaders are, and provides that the training they need to serve effectively.

We are going to talk a little bit about how leadership culture functions in a church and respond to some of the questions people ask about what this might look like, what it looks like in our church, what it might look like in different churches.

I. Qualifications.

One of the questions we get a lot, that I have gotten through the years is, what about qualifications? What do you do for qualifications for leadership?

Thank God, we don’t have to make that one up. In 1 Timothy chapter 3 and in Titus 1, we have the qualifications for deacons, we have qualifications for elders. The qualifications for deacons are the ones that we use for ministry coordinators because we consider the deacons as servants who make ministry happen. So we walk people right down those qualifications, we actually teach them in one of the initial classes what it means to be a leader. We walk down, step by step, about their family, their character, their personal spiritual habits, etc., etc.

The same thing with the lay pastor level. We use the elder qualifications for that and we walk down each one of those things with them and show them practically what it means today to live up to these standards.

Whenever you teach qualifications, it is really important for you, very important for you to say that this is about direction, not perfection. Because if you don’t say, nobody will volunteer to be a leader because nobody feels qualified. We look at our own lives, we can always think of ways that we fall short. But you say, “This is the character that you want to aspire to, to be a leader in the church, and that you need to be growing in each one of these areas.” We teach qualifications to our leaders and we make sure that they can check off that box and say, “You know what? I am willing to commit myself to aspire to grow as a leader.” If you take a look at them, they are very practical. It is what God asks of leaders in His church.

Let me tell you why it is important to do this. There will be times when you need to remove a leader in your church. If you have not taught them qualifications, then it may just become a battle of opinions: “ I don’t think you are doing your job” or “You are not being what a Christian should be.” They are saying, “No, I am.” You say, “No, no.” On the other hand, if you teach qualifications, and I tell them this in the class, I say, “We’re teaching you this so that you will know how to qualify for ministry.”

There have been several times in the history of the leadership I have been involved in, where I have seen a spirit of dissension, a spirit of rebellion, a spirit of contentiousness in people that was corrected and then the person continued. We brought along another pastor and corrected it again. Still it continued. We finally came to the sad conclusion that we had to remove that person from leadership. It has always been hard to do, but you are there to protect the flock and leaders have so much influence. If you leave a leader that is unqualified in the church, it becomes kind of a doorway for Satan to get in and to mess with your body. I encourage you to qualify your leaders well. Have them aspire to that, making clear what you expect of them in terms of their qualifications. Then hold them to it. Correct them if you have to. That is where qualifications come in for us.

By the way, what we add to qualifications is, in our church we have a process. In our third week we have a Membership Class, then we have a Christian Growth Class. We have a Ministry Class and a Mission Class. In the Ministry Class we do what we call a “shape” where we take a look at their spiritual gifting and their passions and their experience. We do our best to slot them for ministry. It is really important that when you are qualifying the leaders, that they also have the kind of “shape”, the kind of ministry gift to be a leader. When you put a non-leader in a leadership position, it can be very frustrating for them and a lot of stress. Be sure that you have some kind of process to check their gifting and to put them there.

The last thing about qualifications would be the DNA of the church. There are very qualified spiritual people in your body who simply don’t believe in the DNA of your church. You may say, “We are passionate about reaching out to seekers and having a seeker sensitive or seeker accessible place for them.” They may be from a place that says, “No, we are here to grow the body deeper and as they grow deeper, they will reach out.” They may have a different philosophy of outreach. It is so important when you have leadership, to have philosophical purity at the top. Otherwise, it starts to bleed into these ministries that they want to start or they will start bucking what you are trying to do. So when it comes to qualifications, not only spiritual, not only gifting, but they have to be committed to the DNA of your church as well, the mission, the vision, the strategy of how you are going to accomplish that mission. That is where you will find really strong leaders. That is how we qualify them.

II. How does this ministry structure function?

A. Meetings.

Next question would be, How does this ministry structure function? We talked about the ?_____(05:51.0) structure, and how we divide every ministry into four and then they have their ?_____ as well.

One of the strengths of the ?_____ system is that it basically puts two meetings in your week, every week. You meet with your _____? Leader and then you meet with your ?_____ and that’s it. Sometimes we have ten meetings a week or five meetings, we have to meet with this committee and that committee and that committee. Again, when you divide your ministry into four, then you meet with your four people and then they go and meet with their people. You will meet with the person who is part of your ?_____. So I’m meeting with the executive pastor and then there is also church operations, family ministries and creative arts that get together. From that meeting, the whole ministry of the church happens. After they meet with us, they tell us basically what is happening in the church, where we are heading. Then we meet with our ?_____.

So in terms of the meeting structure of a ?_____, it is really simple. You will only have two meetings a week. If your church is 200 people, you have two meetings a week. Say your church is 2,000 people, you have two meetings a week. We have 4200 people right now in our church. Two meetings a week. That doesn’t mean that I won’t have a few mentoring meetings and some other things, but in general I will meet with our executive pastor and then I will meet with my ?______ and off we go.

In terms of how it functions meeting-wise, you just have those two meetings.

B. Mission.

You may say, “How does it all work, what do you do?” That is dependent on the mission of your church, what you are trying to accomplish.

We are trying to reach as many people as we can in the west valley of Phoenix. We want to reach people and lead them to become fully devoted followers of Christ. We aggressively go after that. We are strong believers in invitational evangelism. So we do our best to have people come in, to provide series’ that are high impact; and once they say “Yes” to Jesus, then have a very strong discipleship ministry.

So we know our mission. We know our strategy and our vision. That is where it starts. In terms of how you are going to function is first. Why did God put you on this earth? Why is your church where it is? What has God called you to do? There are some churches in history that have not been very big, but have had a powerful and vast vision for reaching the world.

There was a Moravian church that was so passionate about reaching out to the world, they actually had a vision to have a prayer vigil 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 100 years. Within 23 years they had sent over 200 missionaries all over the world, even though they never grew bigger than 300, 350 people. It does not matter your size. You can make as much of an impact as you want to make, but you have to know what your mission is. Because that is going to drive how your church functions.

C. Communication.

We know what our mission is. So, what happens is, our senior pastor says, “This series is coming up and this is what we are going to do.” Our executive pastor meets with us and he says, “This is the season we are going into, this is what we are going to be focusing on.” I listen to what he is saying and I meet with my ?_____ and I say, “Okay, gang, we’re going through a season where we are going to be doing this. I want the small groups to do this. We’re going to add a class here. We are going to be doing this.” Then they meet with their ?____and they do the same thing. It goes right down from the senior pastor. The senior pastor continues to cast vision and to lead where God leads him. Sometimes he calls all of the audibles and changes things last minute and he passes that down to the executive pastor. The executive pastor tells us and we make sure everybody is on board, every ministry, all the way down to the servant that is opening the doors and letting people in, all know what we are doing.

It is really key to function like that. You can tell just from that, communication is really key. A senior pastor cannot go off for two months and then come back and start talking about new ideas. You have to stay in constant contact with the people in the church. In our case it is the executive pastor. They have a very close relationship. They meet all of the time. He knows what the senior pastor is thinking, where God is leading him, what He wants us to do. Because of that, the executive pastor can then come to us and say, “This is where God is leading us.”

By the way, the senior pastor sits down with us every week as well. He finds out how we are doing. He pours into us. He talks a little bit about what he is dreaming. He saves the details and the big things for the executive pastor. Again, we pass it down to all our ministries. Can you see how that works, how we all stay on the same page? Again, communication is really key because everything the senior pastor is feeling kind of goes down.

With twitter and Facebook, it can become a little complicated. Once in a while we will lose track of our senior pastor and we just check twitter or we check Facebook and he is telling those people everything that is going on, so I guess we have a new program and we make it happen. We do our best to keep it tight. With the new social network, it can complicate things at times. Communication is really important.

D. Growth and restructuring.

One of the things also that happens is, people say, “Do the ?_____ stay the same all the time? No, they don’t. Actually, we have what we call the revolving structure all the time. Think about it like a growing body. You start as a baby. You start to grow. Your bones get stronger. You are able to stand. Your muscle structure gets stronger. Your bones keep growing. You start to mature. You get strong. There is constant change that is going on. In any growing organization, any growing church, it is the same way. For instance, right now we have kind of a strange ?_____ structure in my department. We have small groups. We have first steps. We have equipping and leadership development. We had no place to put care and missions. We had them lumped together in the past. So they just put them under me. It is kind of an odd, little side of my ministry. We have said, “You don’t really fit, but I’m going to oversee this for now, be sure you have a good ?_____. We have in the future a hire that is coming up and we are going to develop a healthy ?_____ that stands on its own. We know that is evolving and growing. Also, the pastor in charge of that has so much on his plate, that we have put him first on the hiring que so that he can get a person to do mission.

What you are going to find is that as you grow, you are going to grow in different areas. For instance, your children’s ministry may explode because you are in a suburb with lots of families. Then your ?_____are going to grow. You may start with a ?_____ with children’s ministry and four leaders and they are going to say, “We need to hire two of those leaders and we need to continue to ?_____ out and continue to equip more leaders to fill in the holes.” Wherever God is blessing you, you are going to see more growth and you are going to have to multiply those ?_____, they are going to grow out. Once in a while you determine about when you need to hire.

Anyone know what the number is for hiring? Usually about between 120 and 150. If you have a person that is dealing with that many people, that many folks in the church, that is about the time you want to hire. It is different in every church. Some churches have a real high volunteer philosophy. Other churches are a little bit more high capacity staff. So whatever fits. But when a ministry area grows or a ?_____ grows that you see is going to need full-time or part-time support, then you hire them. So it is a constantly evolving type of situation in any ministry, especially if it is healthy.

III. What about small churches?

What about, we are a small church? How are we going to do this? How does a small church do this?

In a small church it also works as well and this is the beauty of the structure, your ?_____ will be a little bit smaller. You will have your senior pastor and then you will have the people around him. It will depend on the mission and vision of your church. I will give you an example. I know that there are some churches that use the four E’s. There is evangelism. There is edification. There is equipping. There is extension.

Evangelism is your outreach. That would include the worship service. Edification is your discipleship ministry, children’s ministry, Sunday school, all of those things, small groups. Equipping ministries are your leadership development, your ushers, your greeters, equipping people to serve. Your extension ministries are your service to the community or to missions. You may have a missions arm that goes out of the country and you have a local that serves schools, the homeless and people around you. Edification has pastoral care, to take care of the needs of the body.

The pastor would meet with the four E’s, maybe as an administrator. If you are a smaller church, if you are a pastor, you divide your ministry into the four areas. You may have one or two full-time people and then the rest are volunteer leaders. What you are going to find is that as the church grows and the capacity grows, then you will be able to hire more of those, so that pretty soon the pastor will be over four full-time leaders, overseeing ?____.

At the level we are, I oversee full-time staff too as part of my ?_____,which is really necessary because we have very big ministries. Again, it is what we call “scalable.” As a scale, it will grow per the scale of your church. It is really up to the Lord and your faithfulness as to how big your church is going to grow. But the ?_____ system will keep up with that. You just keep dividing into smaller and smaller ?_____ in any area that starts to grow.

IV. Leadership culture.

Remember, it is in the midst of this that you are going to see people, kind of like cream rises to the top, you will be able to fill in your church with really good leaders from these as well. It almost doesn’t matter what size your church is. Let me tell you when I learned this.

I planted a church with five people about 20 years ago. Five people in the living room just like a lot of people do. They start in the living room with five or six committed people. God began to grow us. When we hit 150, I really didn’t know what to do. We had grown, not a team of five, but a team of 12 ministry coordinators. Then we went to 200 and 250. I had 20 people in a room that were all ministry coordinators of some kind. We tried to have a meeting and we tried to have them all talk and share what God was doing in their ministries. It was unwieldy, it was really bad. So I called this friend in town, his name was Wayne Cardero?_____(17:41.4). He had a church called New Hope Christian Fellowship, and I later worked for that church. He pulled us together and he talked about the ?_____ structure that he had learned from Loren Cunningham?_____(17:52), that he had learned from Wayne Pratten?_____(17:53.2). We said, “That looks kind of different” because right now it is 20 ?_____(18:01.3).

So we started putting people into ?_____ and started dividing people into ministries. It was awesome because then, as a pastor, I just needed to meet with four key leaders that would then meet with their ?______. Everything, all of the communication got smooth, all of the needs were met. Everything was being done with excellence. All of a sudden there was a leadership vacuum and more people were being pulled into ministry. The burnout level for me went down because at that point, as a church planter wanting to hold all the reins of my church, I started letting go and I started seeing how that when you involve other leaders and you create this structure, all of a sudden you have this community of leadership.

A. Leadership training.

Then I started hearing, “Can you train us in leadership? Can you help us in leadership?”

Let me give you two books that helped us a lot in leadership training. Sometimes you say, “What do you do in the training? How do you teach leaders?” There are some very simple books that are out there that have been used for years in the secular world to train leaders well. One of them is “The One-Minute Manager.” I don’t know if you have ever read it, it is a very short book. It is almost a one-sitting read. It is expensive for a short book because it is a very powerful concept. It teaches you how to effectively manage people that you are asking to do a task. Over the years we have taken our leadership through the “One-Minute Manager.” They love it. They say, “This is awesome” because it teaches you how to set clear goals for your people, to write them down so that you agree on what they are, to praise them, to catch them doing something right, to reprimand them when they are doing something not quite up to speed, but to both agree on what should be done. And in the end, everybody is happy because communication is clear, goals are clear. So, “One-Minute Manager” is really key.

Another thing we have used in training is “Leadership and the One-Minute Manager” which I think is a great companion to that. “Leadership” and “The One-Minute Manager” are both by Ken Blanchard ?_____(20.06.8). One of the things it teaches you is how to lead leaders that are different from each other because as you know, we deal with different kinds of people. The way he divides it is by commitment and competence. Sometimes we have people who are highly committed and highly competent. We say, “Take that hill” and they go and take the hill. Other people are highly committed, but they are not competent. They need coaching, they need a little bit of help. Sometimes you have people that are highly competent, but not very committed. They need a little bit more character work. Sometimes you have people that are not competent or committed at all. You kind of wonder why they are leading at all. Those are the kinds of people that you will encounter.

Again, our goal is to go and find the best resources we can and to teach people how to lead. That is a great book because it teaches you how to lead people well. It really does. Different kinds of personalities. We equip our leaders right down to ?_____. As a matter of fact, I took one of our leaders to it and he said, “This is great.” He took his leaders to it and they loved it. They ordered 20 books for the 20 coordinators in their area. They are going to go through it and teach them how to manage things well.

There are all kinds of resources out there. You need to pick what fits the culture of your church.

V. Core values.

One last word about the leadership culture. It is really important. We are not talking about a corporate structure. We are talking about something that is organic and very dynamic. We are talking people. In a church the reason that we are different from a corporate organization is because the bottom line is not money, it is not profit. The bottom line is that we are building disciples for Christ. We are helping people become fully devoted followers of Christ, including our leaders. We are not using them as a means to an end. We are helping them develop into everything that God meant them to be.

Sometimes when you hear a presentation on leadership culture, you may say, “I don’t want our church to go corporate. I don’t want us to be cold and profit-based.” We are not talking about that at all. We are talking about building a family. We are talking about building a structure where they share your core values.

A. Loving God.

What are the core values? When people say, “What are people like in your church?” what would you say? What we try to do is to say, “We want our people, one, to love God with all their heart. We do. We want people who love God and it shows in their actions, in their attitude, in their commitment to excellence, in their commitment to God and to the mission God has given them. We want them to love God.

B. Loving people.

Secondly, we want them to love people. We do. We want a people-oriented family here at our church because I think Jesus did, don’t you think? Jesus did. So we teach our people to love people, and we love them and love each other. We are willing to bend over backwards, to drop everything to go and help people. You do things. You teach them to love one another the way Christ does.

C. Passion for the vision.

We want people to have a real passion for the vision that God has given us because we believe it is a Biblical vision. We want to make a difference in this world.

So they love God, they love people and they are difference makers.

What is the culture you want in your church? If you were to have a team of people and they were to meet somebody from someplace else, and that person were to come to you and say, “I met your people. This is what they are like.” What would you want them to say? You make those your core values. You download them into the entire structure that you have and from top to bottom, from the senior pastor to the person who hands out bulletins, you are going to have a culture, again of people that are infused with those Biblical values and are being led well. You are going to see a lot of strength in that in your church. Again, that is one of the things of the leadership culture.

You determine the values. You could make it cold and corporate, or you can make it deeply spiritual, deeply prayerful, deeply loving. It is totally up to you. But when you do it well, God can do such great things through the leadership.

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