I am of the opinion that church plants shouldn’t have any board or official governance for three years. A great advisory team will work perfectly while a leader is beginning the church.
There are several reasons for this. The most dangerous one to me is leadership and rule should come after paying a price and in a new team there hasn’t been time for gifts to be proven.
So what do you do about accountability? I suggest collecting a team of outside successful people and leaders. Ask them to be an advisory board for three years. Go ahead and report income usage and work with them on major issues. And concentrate on growing the church. Spending time in weekly or monthly board meetings can be a waste of time at the early stages. If you are working with a qualified advisory board team from around the country you will see great returns in your own development.
This brings me to your leadership demeanor in your early days. Authority and giving confident direction is often frowned upon in our culture. Yet people respect the assertive leadership style from a young or newly-called leader. It makes them nervous when you try and build consensus on issues with the fledgling church. There was a study done that showed that 32-year-old new managers were much more highly esteemed and followed when they were “bossy.” When you are in a church plant lead boldly give the orders and watch things grow.
I have noted that building a team is important for starting a church. But clear, assertive leadership from the pastor is essential too. After you get the church up and running you can be more consensus-building and in fact the church will require it.
I think this is what Paul was getting at when he told Timothy to not let anyone despise his youth.
You will be criticized but you may as well be criticized for leading the church into success as opposed to not making direction clear. When I was starting with one of the plants I have done in a church that grew very large, I started out trying to do a collaborative leadership with an evangelist. We went nowhere and we spent nothing but energy just trying to keep the boat from capsizing. Too many captains leave you at the mercy of the sea.
I had done one thing that was fairly intelligent. I had stipulated that if it wasn’t working I could fire them and abandon the experiment. There was tension that would have been unnecessary if I had just been bold enough to step up and give the orders to begin with. Intuitively I knew for a long period of time I had to show real strength. And it is a fact that church teams perceive assertiveness as competency.
You will be accused of the church being your “show.” Don’t sweat it – it is your show. You and God are making this thing work. Remember Moses received the same criticism, as did Paul. The children of Israel asked Moses, “Who made you our boss anyway. And look you’re taking us nowhere.” God in not so wonderful ways confirmed his commitment to Moses.
Boldness was a sign of the Holy Spirit’s infilling in the Book of Acts. Of Couse this means you need a mentor that can help you keep your humility and assist in those bigger decisions as well.
If you are going to plant a church you are going to have to lead with a firm hand. And direct with clarity without any tentativeness. You are going to have to be politely bossy. Or your chances of success will be lessened. Forget all this stuff about servant leadership and such. A new church plant is an aberration from the norm. Of course you can serve but your most effective service is to lead the thing and lead it strongly.
If you don’t have this confidence or you are not wired for this approach don’t start a church. And if a team member wants to have collaboration and undo input send them on their way to start their own church.