Bob Farr likes to keep moving. During recent travels, while changing from one plane to another, he picked up a small book on things a leader must do. He’d read it before his next flight was over. A few weeks later during another layover he picked up another small book nine things successful people do differently.
“It got me to thinking about what are nine things that pastors need to do to be successful,” Farr said. He couldn’t think of any small, simple guide like that in United Methodism, so he started looking inside himself, and talking to people from his previous congregations to get their perspective on what he had done right (different/effectively) while leading their church.
“I asked them ‘Why did you follow me?’” Farr said. “Sometimes the answers surprised me.”
The answers to those interviews and Farr’s introspection built to his latest book, co-authored with church consultant Kay Kotan, entitled The Necessary Nine. Farr addresses whether leaders are born or made, and concludes even born leaders go through a lot of (continuous) development (and self evaluation). For the most part, the traits and behaviors identified can be learned and when practiced over time can be developed into traits of effectiveness.
The Necessary Nine are behaviors of successful pastors and church leaders. The authors point out the nine leadership traits are important for all church leaders to have, not just pastors. These are the practices that Farr thinks will lead to desired outcomes. When properly applied, Farr believes these practices can be transformational for people in church leadership roles.
“Our hope is that pastors and laity leaders will read the book together and it will result in healthy conversations to help both pastors and churches become more effective in reaching more people for Christ,” Kotan said. “Although the book is a pretty quick read, it is packed full of best practices, stories, and is a guide for a pathway to improved effectiveness for both pastors and congregations.”
But it’s not all on the pastor and laity leaders. After going down the list of nine behaviors for pastors, the book concludes with two chapters on traits of effective congregations.
“As the top things effective pastor do differently began to surface, we ran across another piece of the puzzle we felt was also commonly found.
There is a certain “lightning in a bottle” phenomenon that occurs when effective pastors are teamed up with effective congregations,” Kotan said. “We then began to examine what traits are found in effective congregations.”
Kotan and Farr believe the ingredients contained within the nine things pastors do differently and the two traits of effective congregations identified in the book are interwoven in an understanding of and conviction in the Great Commandment, the Great Compassion, and the Great Commission. When they see a church and a pastor in their sweet spot being effective, they believe it is due to the combination of these traits standing on the foundation of the Great Commandment, Compassion, and Commission. These together create the “X-factor.”
They believe that by working together, pastors and congregations can continuously learn, develop, and strive towards effectiveness to reach more people for Jesus Christ. Their prayer is that through working together, every pairing of pastor and congregation can indeed create this “X-factor” of effectiveness and be all that God has created them to be, become, and do to reach the mission field for Jesus Christ.