Dwell home churches are led by teams. This offers a number of advantages, but can cause problems as well. A successful home Church must maintain the unity of its leaders. Disunited teams usually can't lead home church growth and the strength of relationships among leaders directly affects meeting quality. Strong groups nearly always have skilled encouragers and visionaries on board with the maturity to work as a team. For these reasons, it is essential that home church leaders learn to deal with conflicts maturely and quickly. When working with fellow leaders, the following considerations are helpful.
- Encouraging fellow leaders
- Can you name personal characteristics you admire in each of your fellow leaders? If not, you need to spend time with God pleading for a more realistic and fair assessment of your colleagues.
- Can you name accomplishments you appreciate for each leader? Again, pray for your eyes to be opened, and for the humility to admit their value to the ministry.
- Have you articulated any of these points to your fellow leaders in person during the past two months? If not, you are grossly tardy in your encouraging role. They will find criticisms and advice hard to accept from you if you are weak in encouragement.
- Pray for vision for each of your fellow leaders. Ask God to show you why their unique contribution is important. Then look for an opportunity to express your vision to each in a non-showy and realistic fashion.
- Pray together for each other. Make your prayer times opportunities to review what God has bestowed on the church through each of your leaders, not just a time for fretting and problem solving.
- Resolving personal conflicts
- Take time to spell out and resolve conflicts as they arise. Help each other resolve personal problems.
- Encourage each other whenever possible. Controversy needs to be balanced with encouragement, kindness, and approval.
- Take time for positive social relating with other leaders. Spending time with your fellow leaders should be a priority
- If an unresolvable problem arises, seek help from your home church coach or sphere leader.
- Leaders should agree on a realistic, hardworking standard for home church leadership. Leaders not living by it should be criticized to their face, rather than behind their back, and challenged to step up.
- If you feel you must offer criticism to a fellow leader, your perception should be objective, and serious. Avoid picking at each other for unimportant issues, which leads to a critical atmosphere.
- Observing the principle of the "man on the Spot".
- You should exercise extreme caution when you encounter negative thoughts regarding another leader's ministry, especially if that work is carried on outside of your direct view. This is because the person on the spot is usually the best to judge what is happening.
- The value of other leaders in this situation is mainly to question the situation, rather than define it. In other words, by a questioning process, the other leaders should bring out any doubts they have about the ministry of the one on the spot. However, if the answers given are sensible and correspond with objective fact, they should be believed. Also, if a leader contradicts an account given by a member, we should be disposed to believe the leader over the member, according to 1 Timothy 5:19. However, the passage is actually about elders, and other evidence might cause us to believe the member over the leader. We should certainly report any suspicious incident to our overseer.
- It will often be necessary to re-asses your impression after talking to the one on the spot. If doubt lingers, you should usually keep it to yourself until the situation is completely clarified.
- Leaders should be very wary of tendencies found in most people to second guess other workers, and to feel they know best. We should be very reluctant to meddle in the decision making process of another group beyond questioning those leaders.
- All leaders should however, submit to questioning of their ministry by other leaders - even questioning of a close nature. It is by being questioned that we reexamine our own position, and benefit from other leaders.
- A leader who refuses to be questioned, or who takes offense at being questioned is displaying an immature attitude that contradicts team leadership. Such refusal becomes an issue in itself, and must be resolved before a reasonable level of cooperation can be expected. While any leader may react defensively at first, we have no excuse for continuing in such a posture. Ultimately, refusal to be questioned by fellow leaders is grounds for dismissal from leadership.
- Don't withdraw from a leader who flares up when questioned. This problem won't go away, and must be resolved at any cost. Get help from your home church coach or sphere leader if needed.
- Each home church leader should commit to seeing real success in the work of all other leaders. Unless we can honestly affirm this goal, nothing we say is reliable.
- Communicating respect is key. Other leaders should be viewed as colleagues, and treated with all due respect. There should be an assumption of basic competence, and this should be shown in demeanor and words. How is respect communicated?
Large Leadership Meetings
- It is usually a good idea for leaders' meetings to be chaired by an older leader. This role does not connote any superiority, it is done only for the sake of order and direction.
- Focusing the ministry is crucial. Unless leaders focus the majority of their attention and efforts on work that is needed and effective, frustration and negativity will inevitably result. Ascertain whether the bulk of effort by workers and leaders is being used on problems, or on positive, strategically sound ministry.
- Look at the chart below. We should make sure to prioritize issues that are important, but not urgent.
Ineffective leaders' meetings tend to focus on issues that are both important and urgent or urgent, but not important. Sometimes, we waste time dwelling on what's neither important nor urgent, like who members are dating.
- Follow the principle of focusing on the responsive field. Within each ministry sphere, identify the most promising people at this particular time. Avoid the three most common errors in this area:
- trying to force feed a believer (or non-Christian) who doesn't want it.
- ignoring good growing Christians, because they are doing alright.
- greasing the squeaky wheel. This means expending the work of the church (and the discussion time in leader's meetings) on people who demand and complain the loudest, at the expense of more promising members who make less fuss.
Dealing with Negativity
- Every leadership team has to deal with negativity and defeatism from time to time. These attitudes are damaging in the extreme to the morale of the home church and its workforce.
- Distinguish between negativity and realism. The admission of authentic problems is essential before they can be resolved. However, every problem area should be appraised without exaggeration, and the power of God to work through the situation should be expressly admitted. Considering the power of almighty God, if our admitted problems are leaving us depressed and defeated, have we realistically assessed the situation?
- Leaders need to remind each other that Christian work, like all war, is full of reversals and unexpected misfortune. Yet unexpected victories emerge as well! The setbacks we see today should be seen in the light of the overall history of God's working with the home church. It is usually easy to see that there have been periodic reversals, but overall progress.
- Negativity regarding other leaders' ministries is particularly suspicious (see the earlier discussion of "the man on the spot").
- We should try to verbally balance negative facts with positive ones in the leader's meeting. It is common to have most people in the home church earnestly seeking growth, but to focus on the few who are uninterested or defeated.
- A leader who is projecting negativity and defeatism in the leaders meeting should be reminded to express faith in God.
- When real problems arise, are the leaders only bemoaning the situation, or are they also creating steps to correct the situation? If no steps are possible, why spend much time discussing that particular situation? While we may need to mourn together at times, we also need to move on to a positive agenda.
When your leadership team is unified, focused on needed ministry, accountable to each other, well-motivated, and trusting God to act, you can expect good things to happen. If any of these things are missing, on the other hand, you need look no further when wondering what's wrong with your home church.