I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was asked to speak at a Mega Church Conference (before you even think it – I know that is the worst title for a conference ever!). But it was by invitation only and your church had to have an attendance of more than 1000 (now you love the idea, right? Wrong!) Anyway… It was a really fun event with a lot of terrific people. One of the other speakers did a talk that was simply titled “Why Leading A Mega Church Is More Challenging Than Leading A Large Company”. He started with a Peter Drucker quote, “the four toughest jobs in the world are to be President of the United States, President of a major university, to be the Chief Adminstrator of a large hospital and the Senior Pastor of a large church.” The speaker went on to give the following list to explain the challenges in leading a very large church. The list in bold are his exact words. The stuff after that are what I could remember of his explanation based on some sketchy notes. Take a read and tell me with which of these you agree (whether you lead a mega church or not). Hint: While I have tremendous admiration and respect for this presenter, I only agree with about three of following.
- Cumbersome structures – In a mega church you have to work with and gain the approval of three groups: the staff, the elders and the entire congregation. In a buisness the structures are not this political.
- “Murky” goals – What does it look to win? Success in a church is a moving target. Business has very clear goals and everyone knows the bottom line.
- Mega churches attract more than it’s far share of “kooky” people – Since the church is a gracious place (as it should be) it can be a home for a lot of “kooky” people. Business don’t have to deal with this. And this is particularly challenging when they end up on your staff or eldership.
- Long term members consider themselves experts – Unlike share holders who trust the business to executives and hold them accountable for the bottomline, many long term members think they know more about the “business” than you do. And many staff members think they know more about “business” than you do.
- Stakes are extremely high! – As church leaders we are dealing with the deepest values of people. And we are dealing with salvation. Businesses have a lot at stake…but not as much as we do.
- Christian people are bad at confrontation – Churches often have to deal with people who are passive-aggressive in the name of nice-ness. Business doesn’t have to deal with that.
- We often inherit other peoples staff – When a football team hires a new head coach, they get a whole new staff. When a politician takes a new office, they get a whole new cabinet. But when a pastor comes to a new church, they often inherit other peoples staff. That’s a challenge that business doesn’t have to face.
- Moral standards are higher – A CEO can have a personal indiscretion and not suffer any consequences vocationally. If a senior pastor of a mega church messes up, everyone knows and it could certainly cost him his job.
- There are very few acceptable ways to vent – Cussing? No. Yelling? No. CEO’s don’t have to deal with that.
- High demands of weekly presentation to share holders – A CEO might stand before the shareholders quarterly or more likely annually. But the senior pastor will stand before the shareholders every week and give a new presentation.
Edit: I got some wise counsel telling me that this post made the presenter look bad, so I took away the pic and the name. My intent in this blog is to let people in on what I’m thinking in hopes that it will develop leaders. As I re-read the original post I don’t think it accomplished this goal. So here is the edited post.