Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Spiritual Intelligence (SQ), and Missional Intelligence (MQ) are the keys to an effective search process.
Over the course of the last 14 years, the leadership of The Center for Healthy Churches has assisted hundreds of congregations in their search for new ministerial leadership. While every one of these search processes is unique and has its own peculiarities, some common denominators help define what makes for a successful search.
Through trial and error and after decades of collective congregational leadership experience, we have landed on several key predictors of success for a healthy transition process. Among them are:
- A spirit of humility from all participants
- A willingness to abandon pre-set agendas and biases for the leadership of the Spirit and genuine Spiritual Discernment
- An honest and informed awareness of a congregation’s DNA and context
- A realistic approach to a Congregational and Next Pastor profile
It’s that last task that often sidetracks a ministerial search. When evaluating candidates, many search committees focus on a slick resume, work experience, a sermon or two, a predetermined age bracket, denominational loyalty, doctrinal purity, gender, appearance, cover letters, educational background, etc. While these are contributors to getting acquainted with a candidate, they do not actually reveal what is most important about the person being considered.
Thus, we have begun introducing the concepts of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Spiritual Intelligence (SQ), and Missional Intelligence (MQ) as key predictors of effectiveness and success in the various search processes we are part of.
Many of you will recognize the importance of EQ, as it has become a key ingredient in nearly all hiring practices, regardless of the vocation. (https://www.knowledgecity.com/blog/emotional-intelligence-in-hr/)
The five key characteristics of Emotional Intelligence translate very well to the ministerial world:
- Social Skills
Each of these are clearly attributes that any effective minister needs to be aware of and engaged in learning and refining. Being thoughtful about the presence or absence of EQ in the life and work of a minister is a minimal requirement for Search Committees.
We have added to the EQ traits two additional realms of “intelligence” that we have found are key predictors for effectiveness in ministry.
The first we call Spiritual Intelligence or SQ. It is a person’s ability to embody the Fruit of the Spirit delineated in Galatians 5:22-23. These nine traits (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) are at the heart of what it means to live the life of a Christ-follower. One of the lessons most churches have learned is that without some aspect of these traits residing in the heart of a minister, it will not matter how stunning they are in the pulpit if they do not actively display evidence of these fruit.
The second “intelligence” we ask committees to consider is Missional Intelligence or MQ.
Leading in a congregational setting in the 21st century demands a deep desire to learn and adapt to a very different culture than most of our churches have known across their history. While holding onto the unchangeable nature of the Gospel, effective ministers must show an adaptive skill set that is open to innovation and creative disruption. The MQ of a minister must be constantly learned and honed so that he or she can lead in turbulent times with calm confidence in the power of the Gospel to be relevant in any culture.
We have found that creating a list of questions and desired outcomes that relate to EQ, SQ, and MQ is a necessary exercise for any Search Committee seeking any ministerial leader, regardless of their title.
Determining if they are emotionally healthy, love and live for God, and understand present-day ministry are at the heart of a successful call.
In addition to focusing on these traits in the life of the minister, healthy churches also ask similar questions of themselves. How does our church embody emotional, spiritual, and missional intelligence? Are we willing to admit our shortcomings in living out the lifestyle, values, and priorities that Jesus and the early church so clearly believed in?
We often find that churches have adopted a consumer culture in which they expect their ministers to provide services that fit narrow pre-conceived ideas and expectations. When music or language or new insights, or a new ministry focus challenges them, they often react like a consumer, pushing back and withdrawing or undermining the congregational leaders in the process. Asking your ministers to be paying attention to EQ, SQ, and MQ without your doing so individually and as a church is a formula for conflict and discord.
Undergirding the entire healthy search process, as noted earlier, is a profound sense of humility. The calling of God to ministry and to a specific ministry is a deeply spiritual and mysterious experience. When done well, it should always evoke awe and humility among everyone involved.
Being the church in the 21st century is challenging and will only become more so. It is only when laity and clergy alike embrace a stance of humility and seek to embody emotional, spiritual, and missional intelligence that the church of Jesus Christ can fulfill its potential. With the right blend of these traits and qualities, we believe any church will be able to “accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.”
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