Shifting the Power Dynamics in the Church

power dynamic in church

Power lies not in the pastors’ hands but with the laypeople the pastor is called to oversee.

More than a decade ago, I heard these words for the first time: Pastors will come and go, but I will remain here. It was a chilling reminder that the power lies not in the pastors’ hands but the laypeople that the pastor is called to oversee in many cases. Each pastorate has been tricky trying to navigate these unspoken power bases. In all reality, it is a balancing act trying to develop strong relationships while listening and then finding out who the church’s powerbrokers are within the early days of arriving. 

When facing power forces within the church, the pastor must either allow the fiefdoms to continue or shift the power dynamic to embrace a more significant role for others in the community of faith.

Instill Teachability

I define teachability as the growth of continual learning by using what is learned positively to help the church move forward. Through personal discipleship, the pastor teaches effective leadership traits from a biblical standpoint. The teaching is done not from a top-down approach but by coming up alongside another and communally serving with them. I have found that when you invest in others, they are more apt to be open to learning from you and then using what they learned in developing others. 

In many churches, the dynamics can shift with a few key leaders being developed and then released to lead in their areas. Over time, the fiefdoms that once controlled the church will begin to soften and then crumble as these new leaders invest more and more in people within the church.

Empower to Lead

Every person within the church is passionate about something. Find the ‘something,’ and watch the church change in short order. I have found that people want to serve, but they are unsure of where or even how to help. When you empower people to lead in their passion, it leads to a revolutionary win-fall of individuals and families who become invested in the church. In a day and age where families are becoming more disconnected from the local church, it becomes easy to get families to embrace the culture by allowing them to live out their giftings thus becoming connected rather than disconnected.

Too many leaders try to dictate leadership instead of empowering others to take up the mantle of Christ. This trait is where leaders fail. Through personal or group discipleship, the pastor instills the church’s values. Once the values are embraced, the pastor should encourage the people to go lead in their area of passion. Passion harnessed for Christ can power the church to a great future.

Execute the God Plan 

Inside each person that sits in a pew or chair weekly is a gift from God to the local church. God has a purpose and plan for each person, and as a leader, you can shift the power dynamic within the church by allowing your people to execute the God plan inside them. 

Recently a group of lay leaders asked me what my thoughts were on a children’s play, and my fallback position was, ‘what do you want to do?’ Because at the end of the day, I know that my giftings are not leading a play, but for these godly people, it was there’s. I wanted God’s plan and purpose for them to lived out by following their passion.

Think about it this way; what areas within the church do you need to let go of and allow others to lead? For me, I can’t be the worship leader, office manager, children’s teacher, janitor, greeter, and the pastor. However, many pastors try or even feel they ‘have to’ be over all these areas. Execute your giftings by following God’s plan for your life and the local church and allow others to lead in these areas. 

If the church is going to represent God’s best, then everyone inside the church must serve in the community of faith. Serving starts by surrendering one person’s will for God’s. The pastor instills teachability into the people through personal discipleship or strategies for discipleship by weekly teachings and small group investment. Once a group of lay leaders has been simultaneously developed, these new leaders need to be empowered to lead in their area of passion. In this stage, the pastor encourages innovation and even failure to enable newfound leaders to find their leadership feet within the church. The last step in shifting the leadership dynamic is to execute the God plan within the local church. What works for one church may not necessarily work for your church. 

Find where God is leading, lead with him, and allow God to guide by obeying his calling for the church.

From Outreach Magazine  5 Ways to Regain Momentum as the Church Reopens