Three Dimensions of Leadership: Practical Insight of Management, Finance, and Boards, for Churches and Christian Organizations

Some of us remember reading and using Olan Hendrix’s classic Management For The Christian Worker. He has had over fifty years of ministry experience with church and para-church organizations. He has learned over those years of ministry that one of the key ingredients to accomplishing a mission is to have effective leaders in place. You need leaders doing the things that make them effective, and not doing those things that can distract from their leadership. For an organization, including the church, to be effective, the leaders need to have a plan with measurable goals and divisions of labor within the body.

At our 2003 conference on Christian schools, co-sponsored by Christian Schools International, Christian Education and Publications invited Olan Hendrix to be a keynote speaker on this topic. Governance was at the top of the list for many schools surveyed on their school’s greatest challenge. The Three Dimensions of Leadership contains much helpful information that can be transferable to the local church.

In our seminars on strategic planning, CEP has emphasized that planning is not unspiritual and certainly not unbiblical. God himself is the master planner and history is the unfolding of the consummation of his master plan. Nor does planning excuse the leadership from the responsibility of much prayer and homework. As Hendrix reminds, planning, done biblically, does not mean depending less on the Lord but rather knowing what he expects of us in serving his purpose in the church.

Hendrix writes, “Leadership without management is fluff. Management without leadership is mechanical.” That statement sets the stage for discussing the what, why, and how of leadership. Hendrix also relates leadership to management because the two, while inseparable, are different.

I am so glad that our Westminster Confession of Faith speaks to the sufficiency of Scripture. We can, by God’s common grace, glean some helpful and practical advice on leadership and management from the area of general revelation. Although the Scripture is not a management textbook, it is a book that reflects the outstanding traits of good leaders while warning us of characteristics that cause much ill through the history of God’s people. Not all problems in organizations (particularly churches) are spiritual in nature. Some result from simply not doing commonsense things in planning, budgeting, organizing and training the people.

The church and most Christian schools are governed by volunteers, which require a different approach from paid staff. There are some practical points we need to remember when working with those volunteers. This book includes several. Hendrix continues to learn better ways to accomplish a mission. I appreciate that about him. In this book he reflects his appreciation for the work of John Craver. He has learned from Craver how to take the concepts of governance and apply it to Christian schools, other Christian ministries, and churches. Following the Craver governance model, Hendrix reminds us of the need for the board to be clear regarding its own work, to resist the temptation to micro-manage, and how to relate to the organization’s staff in a way that enables them to evaluate the results or ends of the organization’s mission.

I have and am presently serving on several boards where applying some of Hendrix’s principles and concepts have proven to be most helpful in keeping the ministry and mission clearly in focus. Asking and answering the question, “how are we doing regarding our mission” is a key to effective leadership and management. Elders, deacons, Christian school boards, and other ministries will find much to glean from these154 pages. This would be a good study guide on what we call strategic faith planning.

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Charles Dunahoo pastored churches in Georgia and Alabama before being called to his present position as Coordinator for the PCA of Christian Education and Publications (CEP).

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