The ordained leader tries to be collaborative, but has trouble letting go of the approval process; new ideas often get caught in the bottleneck of his overwork. The budget is never quite in the black so the congregation spends a lot of time looking inward, and can be anxious instead of hopeful about the future.
At the start Pedro could see that if the leader would allow teams to form, the congregation had the energy to be more involved in the community. He met with him and presented some ideas for outreach, but never got the okay to proceed. He tried meeting with the decision making Board, but they deferred to the ordained leader.
After trying one more time to get the leader on board Pedro was ready to quit, or try to get rid of the leadership, or do something dramatic to create change. But the leader was well liked, and it wouldn't help the vitality of the congregation to have a battle over his leadership style. Pedro realized it was time to lead from the side by working around the formal authority.
People in the local community were talking about how they could take a more active role in protecting the environment. Pedro announced at church that he was starting an environmental ministry and invited other church members to join him. He decided to have a leadership team from the start, and have that small group decide together how they would reach out to the community, how they would engage in study and action, and how they would connect their work to the gospel.
The team funded the advertising and flyers for the community themselves, and reached a large number of people from the town right away. They had already decided that they would add to their leadership team anyone who had a passion and desire to help make the environmental ministry happen---whether they were members of the church or not. The environmental ministry took off, developed leadership inside and outside the church, and helped the people in town to better see the Church as integral to the community.
“But I was still disappointed” Pedro shared. “I was hoping the leadership would see the ministry and realize that they should be more collaborative. They didn’t even notice the team approach! It was worst when I would get complimented for my leadership, as if I’d done it all.”
Leading from the side created a great ministry at this parish, and gave Pedro an opportunity to be the collaborative leader he wanted to be. But it didn’t change everything. The bottleneck still existed. New projects still struggled to work through the hierarchical system. Pedro realized that people were still afraid to work around the leadership. He’s learned that leading from the side is slow and doesn’t guarantee that the whole system will change.
Do you have leading from the side successes, near successes, and failures? I'd love for you to share them on my contact page.