If you want to cause someone to lose their religion in church, take the seat of a little old lady who has been sitting in the same pew since Noah beached the ark.  If you didn’t need salvation before you sat down, you will afterwards.

In my early days as a minister, I assumed that real leadership in the church came from those who had been appointed by the selection committee. Most folks knew the church constitution better than the Bible and, in fact, when a scrum broke out, the only chapter and verses quoted as proof texts were from Article 3; Section 4; Paragraph 1; Sentence 2.

I used to assume that influence in the church came from the folks who got elected in leadership positions with cool titles like Chairman, Vice Chairman, Deacon, Elder, and Bouncer. If you’ve ever served on a church board, you need a Bouncer occasionally. Trust me on this.

The little old ladies in the back pew had the real power in the church. However, they wouldn’t serve in an official position because, “they had done their time and it was time for the young people to run the church.”

Ha! It took me three years, but I figured them out. They might not have a fancy title, but they could change the tide of opinion with just a few comments of support or criticism.

The Kansas Leadership Center believes that our world will be a much better place if we can reframe the antiquated idea that position equals leadership.  

KLC Leadership Principles

  1. Leadership is an activity, not a position.
  2. Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere.
  3. It starts with you and must engage others.
  4. Your purpose must be clear.
  5. It’s risky.

If you have any leadership tendencies at all, you might be like me and want to be Charles in Charge.  I’d encourage you to spend some time leading from the back pew of the church.  Here’s some pointers I observed from the little old ladies:

  • Keep quiet and observe
  • Wait for the right time then speak your mind
  • Don’t editorialize your remarks
  • Be as direct as possible so there is no room for misunderstanding
  • Don’t apologize for what you think
  • Smile



Photo purchased from iStock.