Am I a Leader Who Retains Great Workers?

(Adapted from an article written by Luke Landes in Career and Work)

 by Tracy W. Jaggers

One quality of great leadership is the ability of delegate. Visionary leaders know this, and delegate to move the organization forward productively. Delegation reveals trust. The leader who delegates declares, “You are here because you are a vital part of the process in accomplishing our shared vision, and I trust you to do the work God gifted you to do.” This leader has no problems getting or keeping workers!


Visionary leaders often stop there. As a result, a big piece of the puzzle is obscure. While the leader may say they trust the workers, if they fail to allow the worker to make decisions because they believe they must maintain control of the vision, they are actually saying, “I do not trust you.”

A lack of authority prevents the organization from moving forward. Processes come to a halt, waiting for the visionary to make the next decision. Therefore a trusted worker/volunteer may lose heart and choose to go to a setting where they can use their gifts and talents in a role in which they are trusted and valued.


Leaders must give both the responsibility for the task and the decision-making authority to do it within the worker’s gifts and talents!


What can I do if I find myself working a task where I have been given responsibility but no authority? This can be a frustrating and debilitating! You want to do a great job because you are sold on the organization’s vision, but your creativity and decisions are discounted, impeded and distrusted. You’ve been given the responsibility to accomplish a task, but you keep being blocked from doing your task by the very leader who gave you the task in the first place. Also, you may even be reprimanded and held accountable for a task’s failure because of the decisions you were prevented from making.

First, don’t be that type of leader. Second, be faithful to the task and the vision. Finally, pray for God’s wisdom and guidance as you serve faithfully.

Responsibility – involving personal ability to act without superior authority.

 Authority – the right and power to command, enforce laws, exact obedience, determine,                                              influence or judge.

 Accountability – answerable to a superior authority.


Responsibility without Authority = Distrust/Impotence

Responsibility without Accountability = Anarchy/Chaos

Authority without Accountability = Tyranny/Dictatorship

Accountability without Authority or Responsibility = Oppression

Responsibility + Authority + Accountability = Freedom/Peace

Tearing Down the Barriers to Successful Revitalization


by Tracy W. Jaggers

My first exposure to Church Revitalization (which was a term I was unaware of during those days), I found that attempting to “fix” a church that was dwindling and broken, had all the complexities of building a super-computer with a pair of needle-nose pliers and a roll of Duct tape.


For me, it was because I was inundated with pastoring my family through a crisis. I was just too physically and mentally drained to expend any more energy, even on the needs of the flock. We had hemorrhaged by 21% before I was cognizant of any bleeding at all. With an unplanned revival, that included me, my family, my deacons and some key leaders, we not only saw rejuvenation, but we surpassed our former status by 37% and began to experience real, unified ministry inside and outside the church. It was not because of an intentional process. It was because of brokenness, confession, prayer and shared responsibility.


Immediately following this revival, I read “Breakout Churches” by Thom S. Rainer. That was us! We were a breakout church by the grace and power of the Lord. I am so glad I didn’t know to lean on any processes or procedures at that time, because God got all the glory.


I am now convinced, through the life of men like Nehemiah, that there is a place and time for an outsider to come into a local congregation and help them rebuild the “walls” of their struggling and declining assembly. Just like Nehemiah, I am blessed to be in a position where we come alongside church leadership and walk with them through a process that has been tested and verified numerous times in the past few years. We do not claim to be experts, just research and development ministers. There are two things we have experienced, that have attempted to stifle the possibility of success in the renewal process; conflicts and cantankerous individuals. Allow me to offer ten hindrances that can become obstacles to a successful revitalization.


1) Misrepresentation of a Willingness/Readiness to Change – change is uncomfortable for many. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “The only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper.” I wonder if he ever changed a diaper. It is not always pleasant – for the changee or the changer. But, when a church is in an “awful mess,” change is the only workable solution to the discomfort. Change may seem like a universally-accepted part of the process, but knowing we need to change, and actually making the change, can be in definite opposition.


2) Leaders who are not totally committed to the process and the duration – pastors can give the impression that they are aggressively for the revitalization process, when in reality; they don’t want one more alligator to wrestle with while they are draining their swamp. They are tackling lots of impressive daily projects, while omitting the things that result in real renewal and health for the church. Some are fearful that the process will reveal their inadequacies or inactivity, and others are simply unwilling to surrender the time it takes to encounter true revival.


3) Fear of losing influence/leadership – this can be true of leaders, or of members who formerly were movers and shakers; when they spoke, people listened. They refuse, aggressively or passively, to lose their perceived power. They don’t care about moving forward, as much as they desire things to remain the same.


4) A presupposition of what the change will look like and how far it will take us from our sacred programs, plans, event, ministries and methods – I have seen situations when there was a barrier of rigidity against any change. It was concerning the perceived outcome to their specific ministry area. The leader(s) and/or the congregation want assurances that the final results of the process will not draw them too far from their comfort zone. They can also be fearful that it will cause conflict to which they are resistant.


5) Expecting the process to fix ALL the struggles – The demise of any church is most likely multi-faceted and complex and the problems and the struggles of the congregation did not happen overnight. Few home repairs happen without numerous trips to the hardware store. We don’t always have the proper tools in our toolbox, or we break something else while we are trying to fix the first problem. Partnership is a vital asset here! Working together as a team is indispensable. Revitalization may not fix everything in the church. It does offer the expertise of numerous laborers, and the tools they have tested, to help facilitate healing, growth and conflict resolution.


6) Holding on to our pet programs or externally-offered events – Would you give up VBS? Probably not; but a church cannot allot all the annual finances and the entire church calendar to VBS. What would the church accomplish the other 51 weeks of the year with no resources and no time? All committees, ministry teams, events, programs and activities must be held with a loose grasp so an accurate evaluation and adjustment may be accomplished.


7) Revering meetings over ministry – Is corporate worship more valuable than the salvation of the lost and the healing of the hurting? Before you say no, take a look at your church’s budget and see where the bulk of the money is spent. Today we tend to build, program, and staff for the weekly worship event over everything else. Sure, it is important, but is that what Jesus emphasized as the focus of His ministry? (Matthew 18:11; Isaiah 61:1-3)


8) Underemphasizing discipleship – Sunday School/small groups/Bible study and the pulpit offer a certain level of equipping. The key to church health is personal growth. The task of the minister is to mature the saints of God into the fullness of Christ by equipping, edifying, unifying and instructing in the knowledge of God (Ephesians 4:11-13). It is every member’s responsibility to dive deep into the Word of God (Psalm 1:1-3; 119:11). No one can physically thrive on one meal a week, served every Sunday morning at 10:45! Each and every day we must personally feed our hungry souls.


9) Leadership “trust issues” – if church members are not following, where can you lead them? I heard John Maxell say, “If you turn around and no one is following, you are not a leader.” It is extremely hard to lead when you have lost the empowerment of others to be led by you – it is kind of like trying to push a garden hose around your yard instead of dragging it behind you – it’s probably not going to end up where you need it to be. We must present a clear and compelling vision and a strategy to reach the vision that includes the majority of the congregation. If they sense the leader is committed, they are more likely to join the venture.


10) Micromanagement vs. membership empowerment – Can you accept different outcomes than what you have in your own mind? Can you accept team members taking a different route to the same goal? Can you even accept temporary set-backs and/or failures? Or, do you demand every member use YOUR terminology and follow YOUR template? Leaders must give both the responsibility for the task and the decision-making authority to do it within the worker’s creativity, gifts and talents! One quality of great leadership is the ability to delegate without micromanaging. Visionary leaders know this, and delegate to move the organization forward to productivity. Delegation reveals trust. The leader who delegates and empowers declares, “You are here because you are a vital part of the process in accomplishing our shared vision, and I trust you to do the work to which God has gifted you.


Always attempt strategies that build bridges to a bright, new future, and be careful not to allow barriers and hindrances that keep the church body from realizing God’s goals of restoration and revival. The Lord needs loving, barrier-busters!


I conclude with nine possible barrier-busters: (not ordered by importance)


1) Perform a change/readiness assessment to determine resistance to or reception of a revitalization process.

2) Unpack the entire revitalization process and the timeline to secure a commitment to the evaluation, assessment and training phases.

3) Reveal the tools that will be utilized to perform the observation and evaluation phases and show how the tools will be measured.

4) Utilize the surveys, interviews, observations and evaluations to give a possible scenario concerning the level that change and conflict may be expected.

5) Train the leadership group in the necessity of teamwork, unifying factors and conflict resolution.

6) Develop a discipleship strategy for small groups, coaching, and one-on-one mentoring. All plans must emphasize biblical advancement with spiritual maturity as its measurement tool.

7) Work with the natural leaders (person(s) of peace) of the church to obtain the strongest positive reaction from the congregation.

8) Prayer! This is not the final straw, but rather the vital conduit for inviting the presence and power of God into the revitalization process. This communication should be a dialogue with God. It should be no more than 50% vocal expression from us and at least 50% listening for the heart and mind of God.

9) Confession – confessing to one another so that we may be healed (James 5:16). Many revivals have been conceived in the confession of one person or a group of people. Confession gets the attention of the Holy Spirit, since He is the one who convicts us of sin, of righteousness and of judgment (John 6:8).

The Task of Church Revitalization (Part 1)

by Dr. Terry Rials

The church in America is in big trouble – that’s what all the experts are saying. The church has been in a serious decline for a long time. Scholars cannot even agree upon when the decline began, but Southern Baptist Churches have experienced a steady decline in baptismal rates since 1956, its banner year. It has been sliding downhill since. In the last decade, Southern Baptist Churches have seen church membership decline by 10%, Sunday School decrease by 15%, baptisms drop over 30%, and the number of people joining Baptist churches plummet by nearly 50%! It’s easy to talk about the churches somewhere else who are experiencing this, but this phenomenon is hitting too close to home. We have this problem right here in our Association. As I look at the statistics, it’s happening to nearly ninety percent of the churches in the Association, maybe even to the one to which you belong.

What are we doing about this steady decline? Some sit around and talk about the ‘good old days’ and do nothing because they don’t agree with what is happening. Some ascribe blame and we’ve seen plenty of that. Some blame those who hold to an old, outmoded traditionalism, which isn’t working anymore. Some blame the mega churches of stealing members from smaller churches. Some blame their pastor or denominational leaders for the decline. Some blame the lack of door-to-door evangelism, the lack of churches holding revivals, the lack of discipleship training programs, or failure of the church to keep up with culture. The truth is – there is enough blame to go around. For many of you, this is the first time you’ve heard of this problem.

As in the days of Nehemiah, we need to look around at our crumbling walls and discover that we are a reproach to the name of our Lord (see Neh1:3). A reproach is a condition of shame, an occasion given to the enemy for him to exult in our defeat. Every Sunday with an empty parking lot, an empty building, and empty altar is a reproach to his name. We need earnest repentance, honest admission, and public confession (Neh 2:17). The problem is with us, all of us.

The good news is that leaders are addressing this problem like never before. We learned that it doesn’t come from a national movement; we’ve seen plenty of those in the past fifty years. The Church Growth Movement, the Church Health Movement, the Missional Church Movement, and the Emerging Church Movement have each tried to turn-around the church, so far with very limited success. The real pattern for success is the biblical one, alluded to by famed preacher G. Campbell Morgan, who metaphorically challenged young preachers to put their sailboats out into the water, put up the sail and wait for the wind to blow. We need a movement of God, but the wind of God isn’t blowing.

In the next five articles, I would like to explore the journey of leading churches back to vitality and life. We’ll explore how to set the sails and wait for the wind of God to blow.

Giving Our Best and Our All!

by Tracy Jaggers

I just finished perusing a 60 page article entitled, Effective Leadership in the Church. I was disappointed to see that it reiterated the same old list of managerial requirements I have seen proposed for years that fits almost every type of business.

The church is not a business. It is a family! But, it pains me to say, I am seeing more and more “leaders” that are treating their church as though the flock owes them everything. Some have an attitude of a sheep-shearer, rather than a shepherd! They give only as much passion and energy as they would an hourly position at the local Chick-fil-A (as a matter of observation – I think most employees at Chick-fil-A are more committed to the mission of that restaurant than some pastors are to the Master of the church).

You may say, wow Tracy that seems a bit harsh. I challenge you to look at the ineffectiveness of Southern Baptist churches nationwide and convince me I am wrong. 70-80% of our churches (nationwide) are plateaued to dying. God, forgive us for ceasing to be a hospital to a hurting and dying world, much less the struggling and impotent church.

Let’s look at what effective leadership IS! Is it:

  • Great oration of the Bible?
  • Teaching lectures with no thought of transforming the lives of those who “listen?”
  • Moderating “peaceable” meetings?
  • Directing fun and/or labor-intensive mission events?
  • Printing and sending out slick-looking communications?
  • Striving to maintain a happy flock?

OR, is it:

  • Instilling the Word of God in such a way that people are compelled to respond with new thinking and holy living?
  • Discipling followers so they disciple others? [If we expect little, we get little!]
  • Revealing to the family – the anointing, direction and goals the Holy Spirit has birthed in you through penetrating prayer?
  • Painting a vision of hope and victory by joyfully sharing and modeling the gospel?
  • Being a person of integrity?
  • Keeping the vision of the Lord in front of the family at all times?
  • Working alongside your flock in local and worldwide evangelistic efforts? [BEWARE: You may get some sheep smell on you!]
  • Protecting the flock from the enemy’s schemes and exhorting them to consistently stay unspotted from the world?

What do you want for your family? I pray you want the best! I desire all to be saved by the Lord and eventually, all of us enjoying heaven together. I have heard pastors admit they give only 60-70% effort – no wonder there are 70-80% of the churches that claim to be plateaued to dying.

Lord, may we never be guilty of just giving a little when you gave Your all! Help us to be grateful children, and sold-out shepherds until we see You face to face!

Healthy Teamwork


Unified Focus and Commitment to the Core Values of the Church

The Key to teamwork is having a common goal and loyalty to the values and direction of the church. Who sets the goals may differ from church to church but the principle is universal. An effective team is committed to accomplishing the goals. Team does not have the letter “I” in it. We must work as a single unit to complete a common goal.

Mutual Involvement

In order for a team to be successful, every member must pull their own weight and no one must bear the burden alone.

Effective Communication

A team must dialogue. Dialoguing means, in a group of two, two people must talk and two people must listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a “ratio” reason! Issues within a team should be handled through face-to-face communication. There is no sure proof of correct understanding in emails or text messages alone.

Decision-Making with Mutual Appreciation

A team should have a defined hierarchy with mutual interaction and appreciation. Teams have a coach, but not a lord or king! Joint decision-making is healthy (“In the multitude of counselors there is safety” – Proverb 11:14; 15:22; 24:6) Members of the group should be respected for their ideas and areas of expertise.

Efficient Search for Ideas

Brainstorming is one way that groups come up with possible solutions and new processes. An effective team determines problems and needs; investigates the cause/source; offers possible solutions; synthesizes the ideas and determines healthy options for the good of the body.

A Positive Attitude

Negativity is like a black hole sucking the life out of a group, but a positive attitude gives hope and passion to the situation. There are stacks of evidence revealing the benefits and motivation found in pep rallies, cheerleaders and home-field advantage. We flourish when we are cheered on, given a word of encouragement, or a simple pat on the back for a job well done.

Remember, no one man can take the place of an entire team, except maybe Peyton Manning!



Does God Expect Every Church to Grow?

by Tracy Jaggers


I just completed speaking for two Church Revitalization Labs with the Southern Baptst of Texas Convention. During the first lab I was asked by a pastor, “Do you believe God expects every church to grow numerically?” My first response was to thoughtlessly blurt out, “Yes,” but I restrained myself and responded cautiously by asking if I could get back to him during the next break. Between that question and the lunch break, I researched for the biblical response, and here is how I answered: I firmly believe….

1)    Every God-called pastor sincerely wants his church to grow.

2)    The Great Commission verifies that this is the mission of the church.

3)    A lack of growth is not natural – someone who is mentally and/or physically challenged is known to be abnormal and is diagnosed with a type of disorder.

But What May Be Hindering a Rebound in your Church?

1)    A pastor who wants to be the sole care-giver – the church is a body that is expected to work TOGETHER. You and I are not to be Lone Rangers.

2)    A Lack of Vision on the part of the leader and/or congregation.

3)    A Lack of Planning, Strategy, Process, Systems, etc.

4)    Workers who are untrained and/or unempowered to do the work of the ministry.

5)    A leader who Micromanages – nothing happens without his approval and therefore, nothing happens!

6)    Too many meetings, or worthless, unproductive meetings.

7)    A lack of adherence to the mission, values, vision and purpose of the church.

8)    An Internal focus rather than an external, community-centered focus.

We usually falter and fail because we’re not growing in maturity and unity. In a speech given to the Presbyterians for Renewal, Mark D. Roberts, Executive Director of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Seminary, pastor and author, said, “One cannot read Ephesians with an open mind and not conclude that the church of Jesus Christ is supposed to be growing in size as well as strength.” I concur!

Ephesians 4:14-16 says, As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Even Jesus, in Luke 2:52, “kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and favor with men (italics mine).” As our perfect example, we see that He grew in all aspects as well.

Growth is not confined to one dimension of the Body of Christ, just as it is not confined to one dimension of our own individual life. If we grow physically, but not mentally, we are abnormal. If we are not growing physically, mentally, socially, relationally, etc. we are looked upon as abnormal. We, as the Body of Christ, are to be maturing/growing spiritually, socially, relationally, evangelistically, economically, numerically, etc. in unified effort.  The church that is not growing in every aspect is abnormal and has a problem that must be diagnosed and corrected.

The Bride who is maturing and unified in obedience to Christ WILL GROW in all aspects into Him Who is the Head. Let’s get GOING and GROWING for the Kingdom.

Blowing Your Church Off the Plateau

by Tracy Jaggers and Dr. Gary L. McIntosh

Many churches in the US are listed as declining or stagnant (plateaued). The declining church is easy to recognize – the parking lot is empty and the pews or chairs are vacant. But how is plateaued defined and how does a church blow themselves off the plateaued status?

Plateaued is defined as: reaching a level, period, or condition of stability or maximum attainment. Should the body of Christ ever allow this definition to be used of a local church? Of course not! The church must never allow herself to be known as “plateaued;” if this is actually a real position. The church must always be growing, yet about 29.9% of the churches around us affirm that they are declining and another 44.3% say they are plateaued or stagnant *. This is alarming! Here are a few possible causes for churches plateauing and ways to blow your church off its plateaued status.

REASONS:    1) Plateaued churches usually have high leadership turnover.

2) Plateaued churches normally emphasize fellowship over evangelism.

3) Plateaued churches rely on older programs and events, and lack creativity.

4) Plateaued churches are committee or congregation-driven rather than

leadership-driven. Those with the vision should usually lead.


1) Churches must commit to trust and follow growth-minded leadership.

2) Think, act, react and live like you want to grow!

3) Start or do something new; think outside the box!

4) Publicize using various methods – websites, blogs, mailers, twitter, email…

5) Focus on those outside the church (on the lost); “for such were some of you.”

6) Get every member involved somewhere. No excuses!

7) Expand, remodel, put out more chairs–plan/prepare for/expect them to come.

8) Be a Great Commandment and Great Commission church.

9) Light the fuse and run with the explosion!


Readjusting Your Church’s Focus


by Tracy Jaggers

People normally resist Change. Why? Because it is uncomfortable and inconvenient. It can be dangerous as well – dangerous to lead and dangerous to live through. It is difficult, emotionally draining and usually carries numerous fears. But it is high time that we get off our couches of ease and join the ranks of God’s risk-takers. The church has always thrived under persecution and we are beginning to see an opportunity to thrive staring us in the face. But, if we keep on doing what we have been doing, we will keep on getting what we have been getting – and to me, that is unacceptable.

“The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less” — Vaclav Havel

Church revitalization is a journey, to discover God’s unique calling for your church, in the specific setting in which you live. Readjusting your focus is really a call to look at the values of your church and determine first, “are they what God values?” Second, if so, “how can we adapt our church and ministries to meet those values?” Readjusting your focus is a spiritual evaluation process that begins as our church seeks to join our member’s lives and our church’s ministries with what God values. When we are walking in total obedience to the purposes and plans of God, we cannot help but find growth and excitement as we join God in His “thing,” instead of expecting Him to join us in ours. It is uncomfortable to let go of the steering wheel, but when we do, we find that it was never our car to drive in the first place, and God has never had a wreck!

In the process of readjusting your focus, you should seek to determine answers to

8 probing questions:

  1. Why do we exist? Why are we here? What is God’s purpose for us?
  2. Does our past reveal an attitude and plan for growth?
  3. Whom has God called us to reach? Who is our target audience? You won’t reach everyone, but we should be willing to reach anyone.
  4. Who has God shaped us to be? What are our core values?
  5. Where do we believe God is leading us? What is our vision for the future?
  6. How do we need to change our ministry model to meet our vision?
  7. How do we apply our values and vision within our setting? How will we know if we are meeting our goals?
  8. How do we implement these plans over the next 3, 5, 10 years? (Strategic and Long-Range Planning)

“A ReFocused church is a church that has been repositioned to engage in an intentional ministry that births new life—ministry that equips attendees of a local church to reach the unchurched, launch new ministries, and plant new churches… and become reproducing-disciples” – Unknown

10 Characteristics of Spiritual Leadership

leadershipby Tracy W. Jaggers

There is a marked difference between leadership and “spiritual” leadership. There are lots of successful and effective leaders in the business world, but there are few that get people to follow their vision to the grave. As much as I hate to say this, Adolf Hitler could be considered a spiritual leader. He convinced a large German populace to follow his vision for ruling the world. Yes, he was deceived and probably even demonic, but he impassioned people of all ages, even religious leaders, to follow his strategy.

So, what is the distinction here? I define leadership as the power, capacity or ability to lead other people. Spiritual leadership is defined as the God-given ability to set goals and declare God’s vision to the body of Christ in such a way that believers voluntarily and harmoniously join in those goals as their worship offering to the Lord. With that being said, here are the character qualities I believe are vital to successful spiritual leadership:

Listen without mentally critiquing the speaker’s motives or ideas. Affirming the speaker,      as you listen, reveals you are engaged in the discussion.

Expect the best from every follower – don’t be negative. Not everyone will do it YOUR       way. Allow for personal creativity and innovation.

Adjust your ideas and plans to coincide with the Lord’s vision – reject self-centeredness.      Let the process be fluid enough so the Lord can offer options along the way – then        join Him.

Direct all praise for any success to the Lord – this is NOT about you. If you find yourself    angry or disappointed, it’s probably because the goals are yours and not His!

Encourage willing obedience to God’s plans instead of reluctant compliance. Following        the Lord or leading His flock because you have to, is not the same as loving to    serve Him because He first loved you.

Respect everyone – from the greatest to the least; from those “under” you to those “over”    you. Give preference to one another. Never look down on others, because He has         chosen the weak. Publicly acknowledge every follower’s hard work and discipline         or correct privately.

Search for the best way to accomplish the Lord’s plans. Take it step by step – Nehemiah       was a great example of this!

Hold fast to the Word – the Bible must be your Standard Operating Procedures.

Involve every believer in the journey. Let everyone know they are a vital part of the body   of Christ and as such, all should serve. We must never allow anyone to sit on the        sidelines.

Pray fervently for the wisdom, guidance, protection and blessing of the Lord. If it is not       His plans, then it will probably falter or fail. Prayer is the key to success!

Did you find yourself in this list of the productive spiritual leader characteristics? I hope so. We are living in time when it is imperative for us to be competent, productive, and compelling leaders. We must be evangelistically-effective and spiritually-consistent so others ask why we have hope, love, joy and peace. Leaders must mirror the vision the Lord has shown us and we must lovingly recruit every believer to join that vision. We cannot afford to let down our congregation, the lost, or the Lord.