How will you grow as a
pastoral leader this year?

What are our greatest strengths and weaknesses?

If the people in our Church were asked to describe our greatest strengths and weaknesses, what do you think they would say? I’ve put this question to Presbyterian pastoral leaders in different settings over the last 12 months. And every time I ask this question, I receive the same answer.

Our greatest strength is our preaching. Most of us know this already. We believe that good preaching matters. We talk about the importance of good preaching when we gather together in conferences. Colleges have preaching development programs to cultivate good preachers. And most ministers work hard on their preaching. So it shouldn’t surprise us that the people in our Church identify our preaching as our greatest strength (and the National Church Life Survey results in 2011 and 2016 say the same thing).

Most of us also know our greatest weakness. But unlike preaching, we don’t talk about it much. We don’t have many conferences in this area. Most colleges lack development programs to cultivate it. Most of our pastoral leaders struggle with it. And the people in our churches see straight through it. Are you ready to name it?

I think we struggle with this common weakness, because unlike good preaching, we’re not yet convinced that it matters. Unfortunately, empirical research among organisations generallyi, and churches in particularii, has found that it does matter. In reality, it is the factor that matters most. If you’re surprised by this claim, then you’re not alone.

"When Mike Dodson and I were researching and writing Comeback Churches…we wanted to find what factors led to church revitalization. We expected to find prayer, preaching, evangelism, etc. We researched and we studied more than 320 churches. We called them and did multiple interviews with dozens of them. Do you know what we found? Everything rises and falls on leadership" iii

Read the full article from Christianity Today here

Why can’t we be good at both?

Because we believe good preaching matters, we don’t leave it to chance. We look for the gift of preaching or teaching in aspiring pastors. We create conferences to grow in our preaching. We cultivate good preaching through intentional development programs in college. And we refine our preaching on the job by listening to good preaching, and by reading books on preaching. In short, we’ve worked hard to become good preachers, and we’re now reaping what we’ve sowed.

Preaching does matter, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Our Church needs pastoral leaders who can lead as well as they preach. In time, and with the right help, there’s no reason we can’t be good at both.

Since 2013, Christ College has invested heavily in the development of an innovative leadership development solution unlike any other. The Leadership Development Program (LDP) is a suite of six tailor-made subjects and an integrated field project that form a coherent development program consistent with world’s best practice. The LDP is designed to develop leaders who:

  • Have a leadership style shaped and driven by the gospel
  • Make and develop disciples and leaders towards maturity in Christ
  • Form and empower effective teams with complementary strengths
  • Adapt, innovate and lead change across diverse contexts
  • Understand and value their own gifts and calling
  • Improve in their effectiveness over time

In 2019, the was incorporated within the Internship program. However, it can still be completed as a standalone program. Our Church knows how to develop good preachers. It now has the potential to also produce good leaders.

What can you do to develop further?

Application forms for the LDP are available on the LDP website here.

Dr Jonathan Pratt
Director, Centre for Pastoral Leadership

i Green R. (2009) Management Matters in Australia: Just how productive are we? Canberra: Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Collins J. (2001a) Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap…and others don’t, London: Random House, Collins J. (2001b) Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. Harvard Business Review July-August: 136-139, Kouzes J and Posner B. (2012) The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

ii Pratt J. (2010) ‘Growing Healthy Churches’: Voices from the Churches. Directions 2012 Research Project. Epping: NSW & ACT Baptist Churches, Rainer TS. (2005) Breakout Churches, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, Stetzer E and Dodson M. (2007) Comeback Churches: How 300 churches Turned Around and Yours Can Too, Nashville, Tennesee: B&H Publishing Group, Bellamy J, Cussen B, Sterland S, et al. (2006) Enriching Church Life: A Practical Guide for Local Churches, Adelaide: Openbook Australia, Keller T. (2011) Corporate Renewal Dynamics. New York: Redeemer City-to-City.

iii Stetzer, E. (2016) ‘My Love/Hate Relationship with Leadership, Christianity Today, 13 April 2016.