Unlocking keychain leadership: instead of centralising authority, empower others – especially young people.
Part 2 of 7 Series on ‘Growing the Church Young‘
“Our pastor has been transformed by Jesus, and now he’s the definition of authentic. In fact, he’s the most authentic person I know. And he doesn’t treat us like we’re kids… He treats me like I’m his younger friend – Mark, age 23” (Growing Young, pg 50)
- First keys to the house.
- First keys to the family car.
Getting a set of keys is a sign of trust and freedom and responsibility.
Churches that grow young understand the importance of ‘giving keys away’. But the term ‘keys’ is not simply referring to keys to a car or building. They are keys to decision-making, to entrusting and to empowering.
Sometimes we are hesitant to do just that. Not that we don’t want to. I have frequently heard people talk about ‘wanting to include younger people’ and ‘wanting more young people in leadership’. But often that inclusion comes with strong attachments: ‘you need to do it this way.’
Growing Young is not about churches who let people do what they like! But it IS about churches whose leadership structures see themselves as walking alongside of, coaching, encouraging and empowering young people (indeed all people) to make decisions; decisions that will affect them and the church. The term used is ‘keychain leadership’. ‘Keychain leadership’ is a leadership style that gives people permission to try something, and to either succeed or fail, but that also walks alongside those people to help them learn and grow. Keychain leaders are “very aware of the keys they hold, they’re constantly opening doors for some while training and entrusting others who are ready for their own set of keys.” (p 85)
Management expert, Patrick Lencioni writes:
“There is just no escaping the fact that the single biggest factor in determining whether an organization is going to get healthier – or not – is the genuine commitment and active involvement of the person in charge” (p 58)
- are mature…. in experience, not necessarily age
- are real… rather than focussing on being ‘relevant’ or ‘cool’
- are warm… not distant
- know what matters to people… not just to other leaders
- entrust and empower others… believing that others are capable
- take the long view… keep an eye on the end goal, rather than short-sighted steps
To think about and discuss
- Reflect on the quote above by Mark. What stands out for you?
- What keys are you holding? Who are the people you can open a door for and walk alongside?
- What training opportunities exist for people to develop leadership capacity?
- Who is ready for their own set of keys?