Recently I read this post by @outreachninja Bob Franquiz. He describes what he calls a “frankenstein church”. In his description what he is referring to is a church that brings in leadership from the outside, rather than raising leadership from within. I know that Bob is trying to be provocative, and to generate interest in his free webinar. I know that his heart is for the family of God, and the Mission of the Body of Christ.
While I usually agree with Bob in his writings, this one, kinda rubbed me the wrong way. Mostly, I struggled with it because it was not a thoughtful discussion of the benefits of building a leadership pipeline (very true), or even a thoughtful discussion of some of the bad things that can happen when new leaders from the outside that are not invested in the methods and mission pre-existing in the church (also fairly common).
The post was written in a way that suggests that the only good way to grow leadership was from within, and failing to do this always causes a resulting ugliness in a ministry that is easy to see.
So I want to add some balance to Bob’s post by talking about some benefits and drawbacks of both leadership development plans. As I do this, I want to suggest that there is a balance and there are decisions to be made about any leadership role. LIke most things there is no one right answer for every situation.
Develop leadership from within the ministry
- is a natural outgrowth of a spiritual formation process.
- provides mature believers challenges for their faith that causes continued growth.
- produces leaders who are already familiar with programs, theology, doctrine, policy.
- produces leader that are generally accountable to the remainder of the leadership hierarchy or group.
- produces leaders that tend to be emotionally invested in status quo.
- leaders tend to replicate themselves, so you end up with less diversity in the leadership pool.
- requires a bootstrapping period while the first batch are being equipped.’
- depending on the body, may not produce the broad range of talents and gifts necessary to support ministry plans
Engage leadership from outside the ministry
- can bring in talents and gifts that are currently lacking in the body.
- requires hiring period, but less bootstrapping so can be enacted more quickly
- can bring in personalities and opinions that are divisive
- can bring in leaders who are not ready to be accountable
- can bring in leaders who are not familiar with programs etc., who can unknowingly harm existing programs.
I think that Bob in his article is focusing on these three drawbacks. He doesn’t exactly spell this out, but that is what I smell. The fact is regardless of how you “acquire” leadership, you need to have a good way to onboard leaders so that they know what is expected, and to ensure that divisions or factions don’t form. You also need to guard against stagnation and inertia within the leadership community so that a resistance to change does not develop. You should ensure that ministry plans are aligned with leadership acquisition and development timelines.
Check out these ther ministry staffing and leadership posts: