Clay Scroggins’s 4 Secrets to Leading with Influence When You’re Not in Charge

North Point Ministries had a problem.

Though the network of six Atlanta-area churches is one of the largest and most influential ministries in the United States of the past two decades, its growth (at least in terms of attendance) plateaued recently. Many leaders in that situation may have panicked.

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Plateaued Attendance Isn’t Always Bad

Clay Scroggins, who serves as the lead pastor of North Point Community Church, sees it differently.

“There is a ‘digital disruption’ taking place in our church causing attendance not to decline but to change,” Clay said during a recent Pushpay webinar entitled, How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge. “There is something happening with how the world works now where people are comfortable, if not preferable, toward consuming church digitally but still engaging in the ways we want.”

Clay notes that while attendance has declined or been static in recent years, other key metrics have increased, including giving, volunteer involvement, and small-group participation. Clay, who leads one of the North Point churches, serves under the leadership of Andy Stanley, North Point’s founding pastor. During the webinar, Clay described how he has attempted to leverage influence when dealing with this digital disruption at North Point with limited official authority on the topic.

4 Behaviors of an Influencer

Clay specifically pointed to four behaviors from his new book, How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge, that he employs to influence his peers on the topic.

1. Lead yourself

He remarks that too often we excuse our lack of growth in an area by blaming those in authority over us for not helping us improve. He urges leaders to take responsibility for their own growth. For example, to better understand how church participation has changed in the last decade, Clay became a student of digital engagement, studying how other industries are increasing engagement online.

2. Choose positivity

Clay urges leaders to “climb the ladder of positivity.” To do this, he tells leaders to take the attention off of themselves and put it on others. Instead of looking at what’s important for you, focus on what is important for the entire team. He points to the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 2 as a great example on how to do this.

3. Think critically

Think through the problem and don’t just resort to “doomsday” predictions. Specifically, on the topic of North Point’s digital disruption, Clay says, “The church is not dying. In 2017, we had more people than ever before. We had more giving. We had a larger number giving than ever before, and we had more people give than ever before. We also had more people giving on a plan than ever before (shout out to Pushpay). We had more people serving than ever before. We had more guests than ever before. So to just look at attendance, ‘Oh, the average weekly attendance is down,’ that would be an oversight.”

4. Reject passivity

When a leader isn’t the person in charge, he or she can sometimes tactfully sit back and wait on others to tell them what to work on. But don’t do it. Choose to act instead, Scroggins says.

“That’s why I’m trying to attack this particular problem of how can we create better pathways for people that may include the building or may not,” Clay says. “The great news about rejecting passivity is that, if you can do it now, if you can begin to pick up things and clean out closets before it’s time, it’s going to give you more influence when you get into a seat of authority.”

Toxic leadership

The topic of leadership within the church can be a tough one.

Many have felt slighted or downright hurt by leaders within the church or other congregants asserting authority in the wrong ways. That’s why it’s critical for ministries to lead by example and hire emotionally intelligent, competent staff to serve the church. To learn more about good leadership qualities among church staff and the traits you should look out for in bad candidates, download the free ebook, Toxic Leadership, today.

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