If your Lead Team tries to focus on everything, you won’t accomplish anything. 

It’s good that your Strategic Leadership Team has the freedom to talk about anything, to be honest, and deal with reality as it happens, but what are the primary areas you should focus on? 

When your Executive Team, by whatever term they are called, and whether paid or includes volunteers, creates an agenda, what should be on it? 

Typically, the teams that simply “go around the table and give updates” are not highly effective. 

Communication is always helpful, but when the whole group works on something together, the results are stronger.

Even if your Lead Team solves a few problems with an open agenda, a good thing, of course, perhaps those problems could have been solved by others, which allows you to give more time to forward-focused thinking.

What are the primary categories your exec team is responsible for? What should you obsess on? 

It’s true that crisis situations will change things.

Like in wartime versus peacetime, military leaders focus on different things because life is no longer “business as usual,” and typically, they have to make more decisions and faster. 

But without having a baseline or benchmark of what your lanes are, it’s difficult to get the important things done and make real progress. 

Further, when the senior leadership team isn’t clear on what to focus on, the rest of the team can’t be clear on their focus either. 

Every church, business, or specialized organization has unique differences, but let me offer a guide to the areas of concentration that may serve you best.

Take this list and compare what you do, then tweak it to serve your team in the most effective way.

7 Primary Responsibilities of your Lead Team:

1) Spiritual Discernment 

The Lead Team is responsible for discerning the voice and heart of God related to the ministries, staff, and best interest of the congregation.

Strategic thinking is essential, but spiritually discerning God’s voice and heart must always come before strategic planning.

What is God saying to your senior pastor? What is God saying to each person on the team? How does Scripture influence your direction and decisions?

Prayer is the forerunner and foundation for your church’s present plans and future dreams.

Key questions:

  • Does your team allow a prompt of the Holy Spirit to interrupt your process or change your plans?
  • How do you know when it’s your own thinking or the mind of God?
  • Does your team have a track record or pattern of slowing down to hear what God wants?

2) Vision and strategic planning 

The Lead Team is responsible for developing, communicating, aligning resources, and monitoring progress toward the vision and strategic plan. 

This is often considered the heavy lifting, the arduous responsibility of the team.

Vision planning and even vision-casting is often fun, it’s inspiring, and it’s great to dream! But the moment you get serious about effective strategic planning, the tone at the table changes.

The moment you move from discovering the vision to figuring out how to see the dream come true, your team faces the true weight and reality of leadership.

Strategic execution is central to leadership.

Outcomes matter. That’s why you’re in the room.

Key questions:

  • Do you remain confident about the direction God wants for your church?
  • Do you consistently review the strategy and hold yourself accountable for results?
  • Do you cultivate joy in the process?

3) Culture and values for the church

The Lead Team is responsible for ensuring appropriate processes are in place to cultivate and monitor church culture, values, and spiritual health. 

It’s impossible to separate culture, values, and spiritual health at your church.

For example, if the culture is toxic, inward-focused, or divisive, it’s difficult to increase spiritual health.

Every church has a culture, just like your staff has a culture (and the two are very similar). The culture of your church is not what you write on the wall; it’s the attitudes you express, and the beliefs you demonstrate, and how you live your lives.

The culture of your church reveals your values and determines the potential of your overall spiritual health.

Key questions:

  • How would you describe the culture of your church? Is it what you want?
  • Is your church aligned with your values? In what ways?
  • Would you say that the spiritual health of your church is vibrant and growing?

4) Stewardship of resources

The Lead Team is responsible for ensuring alignment of resources to the vision, strategic plan, and conformance to regulatory standards and best practices.

If you know me, you might question if I wrote the previous statement. Your hunch is right. That kind of super-smart stuff comes from our CFO, Norwood Davis, who gave me great input for this post’s outline!

What I can address with you is the importance of how you handle the money.

God has entrusted you with the wise management of financial resources given through faithful people. Don’t take this lightly; every dollar matters.

That doesn’t mean that you should lead like joyless scrooges, think with a scarcity mindset, or lack generosity. It simply means to be wise with God’s money.

Key questions:

  • Do you regularly teach biblical principles of generosity and tithing?
  • Do you have sound financial systems and accountability in place?
  • Do you and your team do all that you can to use every dollar wisely?

5) Culture and effectiveness of staff 

The Lead Team is responsible for ensuring appropriate systems to cultivate and monitor staff culture, health, and performance.

Let me offer you a five-point outline that will serve you as a framework for how to think about staffing. (NOTE: Don’t ignore this because your staff is smaller.)

  1. Culture
  2. Selection
  3. Development
  4. Teamwork
  5. Performance

You may have other leaders on the team to help you with much of this, or if your church and staff are smaller, your lead team may own more of this detail. Either way, it’s important to continually think through all five areas to know you are building and cultivating a healthy and productive staff.

Key questions:

  • Is your staff culture healthy? How do you know?
  • How do you select the best possible staff?
  • How do you care for and develop your team?
  • How well does your team function together?
  • Does your staff create the results you hope for?

6) Problem-solving

The Lead Team carries the bottom line to solve problems, and in best-case scenarios, anticipate them before they happen and cause damage.

It’s not the executive team’s responsibility to solve all the problems, but it is their job to solve the big ones.

Unfortunately, some senior leadership teams avoid tough problems, dump them on staff who aren’t prepared to handle them, or won’t make the tough decisions.

What problems do you need to solve that no one else can? That’s always an agenda item for your team.

Which of those problems are real problems to be solved, and which might be tensions to manage?

Key questions:

  • What problems are you facing right now that only you can solve?
  • Which problems are mission-critical for vision and momentum?
  • Is there a timeline when solutions are required?

7) Innovation and Improvement 

The Lead Team is responsible for fostering and embracing new approaches and making existing systems and processes better, so your ministries can thrive.

Much like problem-solving and probably more so, all innovation and improvement should not come from the Lead Team.

If all the new ideas come from your executive team, you are not getting all the best ideas.

The first role of the lead team regarding innovation and improvement is to foster an environment that is conducive to and permits change.

Next is to make sure the innovation and improvement are in full alignment with the vision.

And finally, to ensure that innovation and improvement are actually better, not merely different.

Key questions:

  • Is your church and staff team open to change?
  • What ministries are in need of innovation?
  • What are the top three things that need improvement in your church?