Depending on the structure of your church and its governance model, Pastor and Leadership relations will vary.  The Pastor/Leadership may be elected or appointed, and the Leadership/Board could be Apostolic, people from outside the church who serve as overseers of the Pastor, Leaders, etc.  There’s a lot of models and a lot of variety, but all have one thing in common—relationships.  Without relationships (no matter how the leadership is chosen and how the system of governance is set up), it all functions within the boundaries of relationships.  As a result, the health and growth of the church is dependent upon the health of its leaders’ relationships.

How does the Pastor and Leadership relationship work?  And, what does it look like?  Before we get into that, let me share something that God taught me over the last 37 years of Pastoral ministry— “The Board (leaders) serve the Pastor.  The Pastor serves the Board (leaders).  Together, they serve the people.  United, they serve the community”

The Pastor/Leadership team should be serving Christ and be pursuing His will for the church and the community, but, unfortunately, the opposite is oftentimes true.  Instead of serving Christ and pursuing His will, it seems that some Pastors/Leaders pursue an idea or model of their own making (bad idea), and, consequently, the church suffers.  When the church suffers, the community suffers, and the vision and mission of Christ to reach the world is diluted. How do we change this?  In my experience, to combat this difficulty, there are two simple yet profound principles that improve Pastor and Leadership Relations and, as a result, produce the environment conducive to increased church health and growth.
Principle #1 – Be honestBe honest with yourself.  You don’t know it all.  You need others as much as you think they need you.  To be honest is to value your relationship with Christ and others above what you value about yourself.  This principle is a scriptural way of developing self-confidence.  The main problem we all have while leading with others who may be more educated, experienced, knowledgeable, older or even financially wealthier than we are, is to pretend to be something we’re not. In context, pretending to be something we’re not is building a relationship on a false premise that will never produce healthy results.  Once you are honest with yourself and you start valuing others above what you value about yourself, God will supernaturally begin to develop a self-confidence in you that enables you to lead effectively. As the leadership team members grow in honest relationships with each other, it will produce an environment for God to move the church forward, and the people will begin to experience honest relationships with each other.  This simple yet powerful principle will cultivate favor/trust in the community that the church is trying to reach, and will, thus, provide the opportunity for more people to come to know Christ.

Principle #2 – Be trustworthy.If you’re good on principle #1, you can talk a good talk. Awesome!  But, can you walk the walk?  Do your actions produce trust among people?  Contrary to popular opinion, trust is earned, never given.  People do not automatically trust other people, and church people do not automatically trust their Pastor.  Unfortunately, in our culture, church people have learned how to be cynical.  Some will jump in right away and will be willing to serve; others will take a “wait and see” approach (especially if the leadership is new).  They reserve judgment on how much they can trust.  Is this a right attitude to have?  That’s a different discussion.  The point is… trust is earned, never given.

For leadership to effectively move the church forward, a level of “informed trust” must be prevalent.  I believe God created us with a desire to trust.  That desire to trust is expanded when we do what we say and keep our word.  This informed trust begins with transparency.  You as a transparent leader are who you are no matter where you are!  You do not say one thing to one person and then something else to the next person.  You do not manipulate others to move your agenda forward.  Why?  Because you don’t have one.  You are only following God’s agenda for the church.

Truly, when trustworthiness is cultivated amongst leadership and you’re being honest, you’re not pretending and you’re being transparent, and people will begin to trust your leadership.  The onlookers will buy into your church’s vision and will be willing to serve.  Your trustworthiness as a church will shine like a beacon to a community that is desperately wanting to trust.  That is when God will open doors of opportunity that you never imagined possible.  Why?  Because they trust you.  My prayer is that your relationships with others become honest and trustworthy, and, as a result, will produce healthy Pastor/Leader and church relations.

Jerry & Lisa Harris


Jerry Harris is passionate about people and building churches to reach their communities. Before joining the Southern Missouri District as Church Planting Director, Jerry and his wife, Lisa, served as lead pastors at St. Charles First Assembly of God, guiding the church to grow and expand to reach St. Charles and Warren County, Saint Louis City and St. Louis County. They have been married since 1970 and have three married children with nine grandchildren. Jerry left a professional career with the railroad industry in 1982 to become a full time pastor. His formal education is in Business Management and he also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Education from Global University. In addition to pastoring, the Harris’s have served as nationally-appointed U.S. Missionaries for the Assemblies of God to the inner city of St. Louis. Jerry is the president and founder of Inner City Ministries of St. Louis that planted and developed churches in St. Louis City and County and also in Washington Park, Illinois, and of Reach Missouri Network, a newly formed 501(c)(3) corporation that has enlarged and broadened the vision of ICM.