One of my client churches was located in suburban St. Louis. The then relatively new pastor, who had succeeded a long-time pastor, brought me along side and hired me. The former pastor was the classic chaplain. Warm, compassionate and people-oriented he was brilliant over coffee in the living room and at the hospital bedside. He was beloved by his people not so much for his preaching ability or leadership skills as for his ability to make each congregant feel loved, included, and cared for and to foster a sense of community and connection among his people.
The new pastor loved people too, but his strengths were quite different than his predecessor’s. This pastor’s skill set was in the areas of teaching and leadership. In particular, he was a gifted visionary able to see and articulate a future for the church that was both exciting and very different from its past and present. The church began to grow quite rapidly, fueled by an influx of young professional families.
Predictably, the church began to be polarized not long into the new pastorate. Folks who were wired to appreciate strong visionary leadership gravitated to the new pastor as a breath of fresh air. Those who had been drawn to the church under the predecessor pastor’s leadership missed his people skills and ability to generate congregational warmth and belonging.
When I sat down with a group of leaders, it became clear that the problem was not one of personalities but rather of values. [Read more…]