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Good leaders practice making good decisions

May 12, 2016 | by Bud Brown


How we make them is a hallmark between pastors who are naturally hardwired by God to lead declining churches to renewal (roughly 15 percent of those in ministry) and their ministry colleagues who aren’t similarly wired.

Contrary to what we expected, our research revealed that rapid fire decision makers are generally poorer at leading church turnarounds. In contrast, the most effective renewal leaders are those who are slow, thoughtful and collaborative decision makers.

Fortunately, pastors can learn to be more effective decision makers. We’ve developed a variety of techniques that we impart in our mentoring relationships. Here are two; one helps the “ready, fire, aim!” crowd work more deliberately, the other insures that impulsive decision makers bring others along with them.

Rule of 3

This simple exercise not only requires greater deliberation, it also boosts creativity by requiring you to think of multiple options before settling on a decision. It’s a simple exercise.

  • At the top of a blank sheet of paper, write down the decision that needs to be made. Include a few details highlighting the nature of the problem. Underneath that write out how you’ve solve this problem (or seen others solve it) in the past.
  • Draw a vertical line down the center of the page
  • In the left-hand column write out what you’re leaning toward for this decision.
  • In the right-hand column list at least three new options, all of which are outside your “tried and true” zone.
  • Pray over this for several days.
  • Consult with your mentor or coach to discuss the options.

Decision alignment

Impulsive pastors tend to make decisions without giving careful thought to who will be affected. It’s easy for a pastor, particularly the solo pastor of a small church, to turn someone else’s work upside down by making rapid decisions. (Could this be one reason why the snap decision makers tend to pastor stagnant churches?)

Fortunately, this is also easily fixed.

  • Look at what’s on your calendar for the next quarter.
  • List what decisions you need to make over that quarter.
  • Reverse engineer those decisions to see who will be affected by them. (Don’t stop with just one name; more often than not multiple people are touched by a given decision).
  • Set appointments in your calendar for when, where, and how you’ll discuss these decisions with each person who will be affected. Jot a few notes about what you plan to say about those decisions.
  • Confirm those appointments by phone or email. Drop a “reminder” so that you’ll be reminded a few days ahead of time so you can review your notes and be ready for a thoughtful discussion that brings each person into the process.

“Ready, fire, aim” isn’t just a bad idea. It’s ineffective leadership. By practicing the rule of 3 and decision alignment, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a thoughtful, innovative and collaborative decision maker. And those are the ones who lead churches in renewal.

Photo source: istock

Bud Brown

An experienced ministry leader, writer and educator, Bud Brown is co-founder of Turnaround Pastors and co-author of the ground-breaking Pastor Unique: Becoming A Turnaround Leader. He is a change leader in many venues — small rural, upscale suburban and mega-sized churches. He brings special expertise to change leadership in the local church, mentoring pastors to become revitalization leaders, training churches how to find and recruit the best talent, and training leadership teams how to achieve their shared goals. Bud also trains pastors in conferences, workshops and coaching sessions. 

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