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Best Practices in Church Leadership

Posted: 6/24/19 at 4:15pm. Column by Craig Harwood.

Today’s church requires all of us as leaders, whether on staff or volunteer, to stretch our thinking and tackle issues that previous generations just weren’t required to face.

How will you, as a local church leader, discover new or expanded practices that might help you overcome current obstacles or enable you to create breakthrough and enhance the vitality of the local ministry the Lord has set you in?

For staff, it means building on our seminary foundations and embracing an expanded leadership role.

For the volunteer leader, it means stepping beyond “that’s not how we do things around here” and learning to effectively lead in a church community that has outlived its current practices.

This is not a new approach I’m asking you to consider. Throughout Scripture we are reminded of those who have gone before us into uncharted leadership situations and stepped by faith into the uncomfortable and unknown to embrace new beginnings the Lord had destined for them.

Uncertainty about what’s next might be exactly where God wants you right now.

Uncertainty about what’s next might be exactly where God wants you right now, so that by faith he can encourage you while proving that he is the one doing the work and the victory will be his. This can therefore release the burden of the outcome, increasing your confidence in him and validating the situation you are standing in as his work for you.

Over the coming months in this column, I will be glad to address topics that are on your mind if you want to send me your suggestions. I also plan to address a series of topics that illustrate some best practices in leadership for today’s church leader. Some of these include:

  • How to articulate vision, set strategy, and establish plans with your staff and volunteer leadership
  • How a group of volunteers (personnel committee) should conduct a performance review of a pastor
  • How clearly defined outcomes and goals can help with performance reviews of both staff and pastor
  • How to effectively engage conflict within a church body
  • How to administer corrective action when there has been a transgression
  • How to establish a ministry residency program for those considering full-time ministry
  • Conducting orientation and onboarding for staff and volunteers
  • How managing part-time staff is different from full-time
  • What legal liability is assumed by a personnel committee in the administration of its duties
  • Engaging and building trust in your team and with your community


Craig Harwood has over 30 years of experience in corporate human resources and pastoring churches. He can be contacted at craig.t.harwood@gmail.com.