21st Century Leadership: Collaborating Beyond the Usual Suspects

The days are gone when leaders can be Lone Rangers.  And the days are long gone when Pastors can possibly be good at everything  – cloistered in a theological library to craft sermons while simultaneously scheduling pastoral visits, preparing for classes for God’s children of every age, and ensuring that the lights are on and the bulletins are printed.  Even small rural congregations would be wise to recognize this.

Most of us have become more specialized professionally and it starts young. Suburban children go to science focus schools starting in kindergarten. They specialize in sports and musical instruments from a young age.  For whatever reason – time limits, peer pressure – we pick our thing and go with it.  There aren’t many Renaissance People these days.

We need specialists.  But most of all we need to collaborate with them.  This article explains what I’m talking about.

(Pixar is) “very intentional about wanting people who are artists and animators, and the coders, and the music people, and the screen writers to be constantly bumping into each other in random ways to spark ideas.”

What if we as church leaders invited people to share their expertise – whether it’s in agriculture or dentistry or law enforcement or graphic design – as we discern what our communities need in mission and ministry?  A great church staff includes authentic collaboration between the educators, musicians, administrators, and the pastoral leadership.  But we also need to collaborate with the banker, the guidance counselor, and the caterer for ideas and perspective.

The art of collaboration” blends conventional ideas with “spice” – that simple something that turns expectations upside down or stretches our plans in new directions.  Sometimes adding jalapeno to a cornbread recipe results in a miracle.  Adding a pop of color to a little black dress or a string to a finger painting makes all the difference.

Even the smallest congregation can expand it’s collaborative influences.  But it takes a leader – most likely the pastor – who will let go of the reins and invite new voices with a variety of specialties into the visioning.

Image of Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger.

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