Reaching Good Decisions Together

Imagine how much simpler it would be if you could just make decisions in a vacuum—and everyone and everything lined up according to your perfect plan.

Of course, life in Christian communities of faith does not work that way. Thank God! Any one of us alone, even with the best of intentions and most inspired of visions, could wreak havoc in the church or organization we lead and serve if we had sole authority and chose to make all decisions alone. On the other hand, without vision and some clear direction of purpose, communities of faith can flail, flounder around, or fall into mindless repetition.

Pastors and priests must navigate between acting as a “benevolent autocrat” and as a laissez-faire facilitator. At one extreme is the temptation of imposing their personal visions and serving as the default decision-maker; at the other lies the temptation of abdicating any responsibility for providing direction, in the name of “shared leadership.”

So, how do decisions actually get made—and then implemented—in the Church? What do pastors and priests understand about leading decision-making efforts? How adept are they at different ways of engaging and leading decision processes?

We asked newer clergy what has made decision-making in their congregations or organizations challenging; how they themselves have responded to trouble and resistance; and what they think their relative strengths and weaknesses in decision-leadership are. In interviews, we also asked clergy about decisions they handled well and decisions they did not handle well. This section explores what clergy reported about their own decision-leadership.

StoriesView All

It’s Not All About You: The Benefits of Shared Leadership

What would you do if a few disgruntled members of your congregation were interrogating potential newcomers and scaring them off?


Developing a Discerning Community: Steps Toward Collaborative Decision-Making

For many small churches, a significant membership increase would be a dream come true. The Rev. Crystal Hughes knew that for her new parish it would also mean navigating an emotional minefield.


ResearchView All

Decision Leadership: Clergy Strengths

We asked recently ordained pastors and priests how strong they believe their skills are in different components of leading people through decisions.


Decision Leadership: Clergy Weaknesses

Most clergy surveyed identified progress assessment, social network analysis, and course corrections as weak spots in their decision leadership skills.