Dr. Paul Borden
Rocky Mountain Church Network
Taken from Growing Healthy Churches July 2014 E-Newsletter
In most congregations, regardless of size, there are one, two or three key lay leaders that carry an inordinate amount of influence. They carry this influence for a variety of reasons, some good and some not so good. In most cases they have served the church with varying degrees of consistent commitment for a number of years. In other cases it may be their wisdom, their influence in the community that is carried over into the church or even their real or perceived generosity. As congregations grow or decline, it is often a direct result of their influence and how it is felt throughout the life of the church. These people may be in leadership positions but not necessarily.
Since most congregations in our nation are in decline or on a plateau in attendance these individuals play a key role in whether the congregations of which they are a part can experience systemic transformation. If these people, for what ever reason do not want it to happen, it usually does not, and if they do, transformation may happen with great success. Many times such people are labeled as church bosses, tribal chiefs, the God Father or God Mother etc. Most wise pastors soon learn who such people are because they carry influence with most of the congregation.
Although we often hear a number of bad things about such people, I have been more and more impressed with the number of key influential laity I have run across in conducting congregational consultations. In many cases I find that such people are often against change because they have seen it attempted so poorly for so long. They’ve watched pastors and denominations bring in program after program that while promising positive change, often failed. However, often such people really do want to see the lost saved, desire to see their congregation have influence in the community and do want to experience genuine health resulting in growth.
We must remember that many of these influencers have seen pastors, denominational leaders and other (so-called) experts come and go making a big to do with little of substance happening. However, if they do believe that the change is really about the Kingdom of God and it makes sense and has a track record of effectiveness they are often open to using their influence for Godly change. When such occurs, these are the people that enable change to not just be initiated but to continue steadfastly, when others get tired. Such laity is the pastor’s best asset in leading change. Often these are the unsung heroes of congregational transformation and the real people of faith God uses to accomplish great things.