Moving From Caretaker to Risk-taker Leadership

Volunteers handing out meal donations to the needy at a food drive

Borrowing terms from a friend of his, Gary McIntosh once wrote of three kinds of leaders in the church today; risk-takers, car-takers, and undertakers.[1] While we can all understand reasons not be an undertaker leader, there is a place for caretakers in churches as this refers to taking care of those in the body of Christ. However, our leadership and our service should not be to these exclusively. Our mandate and the purpose of the New Testament church is to reach those yet to believe. Without risk-taking leadership in our churches how can we flourish and be fruitful to the Great Commission?

Moving from being a caretaker to a risk-taker is to not let our fears overwhelm us into not attempting to meet the needs (physical and spiritual) of the community around the church facility. When we allow our fears to overtake our thinking, we become emotionally paralyzed to serving as Christ served. This will keep us from empowering members to serve according to their God-given gifts and passions. Instead, we attempt to find ways for members to use their “gifts” inside the church. We must move beyond caretaker leadership.

Becoming risk-taking leaders means being willing to empower people to fulfill their purpose, each one utilizing his/her skills, gifts and talents to a lost and dying community. Healthy growing churches continuously encourage, teach, and train every member to put into practice his/her God-given abilities outside the confines of the church facility.

This does not imply that we buy into every thought of ministry to the community from church members. No church, no matter the size can meet all the needs of their community. Yet, I believe God has given every church a particular set of strengths to help meet the needs of their surrounding community. In every situation always be ready to ask: Does this ministry meet the core values of our church and does it match our God-given strengths and gift mix?

In all of his tenure, whenever anyone came to Herb Kelleher, founding CEO of Southwest Airlines, with a suggestion for a change within the airline, he always asked the following. Will this allow us to give the customer the best flying experience at the lowest fare in the industry. (paraphrased) He was asking does this meet our core values?

If a new idea does not align with your core values and encompass some of the strengths within the church, this is likely not going to be a great fruitful ministry for your church/organization. There is much to be considered in implementing any new ministry. Not all ministry ideas are God-breathed for your church. Help your church find your niche ministries. One resource to use for new possible ministries can be found at; Microsoft Word – New Ministry Questionnaire.doc ( or Microsoft Word – New Ministry Questionnaire.doc (

Becoming a risk-taking leader also requires creating a risk-taking culture in your church/organization. What can you do this week to explore being a risk-taking leader and creating a risk-taking culture inside your organization?

[1] The Exodus Principle pg 45, Broadman and Holman

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