7 Ways to Respond to Power Groups in the Church

In an earlier post, I suggested several types of power groups that exist in many churches today. I also noted that a power group per se is not intrinsically bad. They come in a variety of types and quality.

As many of you requested, and as I promised, I am utilizing this article to address possible ways to respond to power groups. My list is not exhaustive, but I do hope these seven suggestions are helpful.

1. Pray for the group. You might begin to see those people from a different perspective. Or God may positively change your relationships with those in the group.

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2. Find commonalities with the group. A pastor recently wrote me about his experience with a power group in his church. He learned that two members of the group had been involved in ministries to abused children. He had led a similar ministry at a former church. He asked those two members to help him start a new ministry to these children. Now the pastor is in great favor with the group.

3. Work around the group. Ask the question: What is the primary concern of the group? Once you determine what the mindset of the group is, you can lead around the group. There will always be unlimited ministry opportunities; do those for which you are the most passionate while not offending the group.

4. Let the berry bucket take effect. The berry bucket is a metaphor to describe church members. "Older berries" are those who were at the church before the pastor arrived. "Newer berries" are members who joined the church after the current pastor was in place. Newer berries tend to follow the leadership of the pastor more readily. Sometimes you just have to wait for the power group's authority to diminish.

5. View the power group as sheep to be shepherded, not enemies to be fought. One of the many mistakes I made as a pastor was to view certain members and groups as adversaries. Sure, many of them were a pain in the posterior, but they still were Christ's sheep. I should have been more spiritually mature to see myself as the undershepherd rather than the opposing team.

6. Confront the power group if their sinning is bringing harm to the body. Please hear me clearly. If you do take this difficult step, you could lose your job. I have seen it happen too often. It is a bold step and a courageous step, but it can be a step that moves a pastor to the ranks of the unemployed.

7. Sometimes you have to leave. Would I recommend you leave a church if the power group is hindering the ministry of the church, and if all other attempts to move forward have failed? Maybe. I am always reticent to suggest that leaving is the only option. But the reality is that sometimes your departure is the only option you have left.

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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