CMIN316 - Art of Leadership
Dr. Paul Shrier
April 12, 2004
Situational Leadership Theory in Multimedia Ministry
There are few more frustrating elements of ministry within the contemporary church than dealing with multimedia teams. From the initial planning stage to the actual execution, there is usually great tension on all fronts within the team. Yet, at the same time, churches that are trying to reach the rising MTV-generation with low attention spans and multi-sensual experiences are forced to consider multimedia ministry. So the question is raised: how can multimedia ministry be moved from a necessary evil into a flourishing, secondary element of ministry that is smoothly executed to draw a congregation into the presence of God? The answer lies with the leadership. Given the complexities of the creativity, technical skill, and communication required to operate any multimedia event, Blanchard and Hersey's "Situational Leadership Theory" provides a strong leadership model for multimedia ministries.
There are few elements of ministry that are more complex than multimedia ministry. This is not to say that it is more important than other areas of ministry; in fact multimedia ministry should always be on a secondary level within ministry. To lead within this ministry field requires a certain level of creativity, and technical competency. In addition, a leader must possess good management skills (delegation, organization, etcÉ), communication patterns, and problem-solving ability. While multimedia leaders requires many of these skills, few leaders are chosen actually possess them. Typically, a multimedia team leader is chosen simply because of technical competency. A church decides they want to add PowerPoint to their worship and sermons, so where do they turn? They put out a plea to the congregation asking if anyone feels gifted with computers would like to serve. While this may work for carrying out the technical requirements of the ministry on a small scale, as the sub-ministry grows, so will the frustration; many people who are technically competent do not possess the skills it takes to lead a multimedia ministry. Two very large frustrations proceed from this poor leadership: the "creative/technical gap" and the communication problem.
As multimedia demands grow, the creative/technical gap becomes more evident. Typically within the sub-ministry there are two main parties: those who plan the creative need of the sub-ministry, and those technically capable of carrying out the desires of the creative planners. The main problem that stems from this is an inability to be in the other members' shoes. For the creative members, they typically have an "anything should be possible" mentality, and do not understand why something "just can't be done." For the technical members, they typically are very hesitant to add complexity to their job, because of the usually large amount of time required fulfilling the needs of the creative members. They also have a hard time understanding why adding certain elements add value to the creative service.
In February 2002, twelve surveys were passed out to
members of the Azusa Pacific University Chapel Programs Multimedia Ministry
Team. The first question asked those surveyed to identify what type of role
they played in the multimedia ministry. On a scale of 1 to 5, the person was
labeled whether their job was creative or technical in nature. It so happened
that out of the 12 surveyed, four were technical, four were creative, and four
were in the middle, meaning their job was one that often bridges the gap
between the technical and creative.
who identified themselves as creative felt that the largest problem with most
multimedia ministry leadership was poor attitude. Often the multimedia leaders
seemed inflexible, or rigid. The creative people desired a leader with good
communication skills, even more than one with technical competency and team
compatibility, although those come in close second.
Those who identified themselves on the technical (or task) side of the multimedia ministry felt the biggest frustration between the technical and creative had to do with the creative players not having a full understanding of their job, and the time and effort required to make "simple changes." Surprisingly, the technical people rated "technical competency" very low on the scale of attributes desired from a leader.
Communication and flexibility were the two highest rated attributes.
Those who identified themselves as "bridges between" the creative and technical felt the largest frustration for the technical side was poor communication and lack of vision. They were also frustrated with the creative member's inability to carry out desired goals and visions. This group valued both communication skills and technical competency as top priorities, emphasizing that most people in these roles felt that the leader must be able to communicate and take care of tasks.
These surveys results indicate that bad communication among team members is the primary problem which leads to many creative/technical misunderstandings. However, another very large source of conflict within the sub-ministry is communication. Communication is vital to the execution of effective and distraction-free multimedia ministry elements. Depending on the size of the sub-ministry, poor communication skills can either be a slight inconvenience that has to be managed around, or a point of conflict that demoralizes members of the team or stunts creative development. Typically the execution of a multimedia elements occurs as follows: the creative members plan the desired elements needed to communicate the message, then the multimedia team leader decides how to execute this element, and delegates the specifics to members who can produce each element (i.e. video producers, graphic designers, etcÉ). On the day of the event, the elements are brought together and then communicated to the members in charge of executing the elements (PowerPoint operators, audio technicians, lighting technicians, etcÉ). Communication is top-down, except when things are going wrong, and typically information is communicated on a "need to know basis." As a result, individuals do not understand the big picture and are only expected to carry out their role within the ministry. This isolation can lead to demoralization. This is not to say that all members need to be intimately involved with the workings of the other members, as it would seem to be a waste of time to explain to a video operator why a certain singer needs to be EQ-ed differently. However, typically what is found is the extreme opposite, where nothing is communicated except the bare minimum which causes the individuals members of the team to lack vision for the entire ministry and appreciation for other members.
There is a problem that underlies all of the surface problems of multimedia ministry. It is leadership. Leaders within the sub-ministry do not have a vision and therefore lead as one driving a car without a set plan on how to get from point A to point B. They task-manage projects and problems with out focusing on the larger picture. In addition there is no development of "subordinates." Leaders are typically happy with members when they perform the job asked of them with no (or few) mistakes. If there is any desired development, it is only that the member becomes more technically competent to minimize their errors and maximize performance. The team member is a means to an end and little is invested in that member to develop the person into a self-sufficient, and confident team member.
Ministry is not the only place in which the team member has been treated an and end where little is invested in their development. This is where anyone seriously concerned with this problem should take a lesson from the business sector. Brian Fidler states, "Often the need for leadership is signaled by its absence."
Fidler goes on to explain that all
management requires a balance between reactive administration and proactive
leadership. All managers are expected to be leaders; however, not all leaders
need to be managers.
There are two key important elements to leadership: (1) leaders are to inspire their "followers" by communicating the purpose of their actions and instilling confidence, and (2) leaders motivate followers in order to achieve the desired result. This must look like more than just an organizational chart. Management is an organizational chart; leadership is something far more personal. Leadership is about inspiration and motivation, and this cannot occur by only explaining who is answerable to who and where one must go when they have problems. While it is necessary to the manage a team, leaders should not confuse management with leadership, as often occurs.
Omar Bradley said that, "Congress can make a general, but only communication can make him a commander."
Ministries are the same way in that any senior pastor, worship pastor, or
school administrator can determine who the multimedia team leader is, but if
that person does not have the ability communicate in a way that inspires and
motivates the fellow members of the team, than they are nothing more than a
reactive administrator. L.G. Bolman and T.E. Deal state:
Organizations which are overmanaged
but underled eventually lose any sense of spirit or purpose. Poorly managed
organizations with strong charismatic leaders may soar temporarily only to
crash shortly thereafter. The challenges of modern organizations require the
objective perspective of the manager as well as the brilliant flashes of vision
and commitment that wise leadership provides.
The first of the two main scenarios
is more common within multimedia leadership. It should be no surprise that
multimedia ministries lack vision and purpose when the leaders main focus is
the sea of leadership theories amidst the bookshelves of every bookstore in the
nation, where does one turn in order to find an acceptable, adaptable, and
effective leadership style that will suit the needs of multimedia team
leadership? Authoritarian model is used with members that leaders feel lack
confidence and capability. The problem then is they have a tendency to limit
creativity and responsibility. The other extreme is the democratic models,
which are used when the leader trusts the maturity and capabilities of their
members. The downside is that members of the team may wonder who is ultimately
in charge and have a hard time understanding when lines of authority have been
Leaders then try to mix the two but run into problems when team members get frustrated at the lack of continuity in leadership style. Therefore, the best approach for a multimedia team leader is Hersey and Blanchard's "situational leadership theory."
and Blanchard noticed that:
The function of the leader under
[previous theories of leadership] was obviously to set up and enforce
performance criteria to meet organizational goals. The main focus of a leader
was on the needs of the organization and not on the needs of the individual.
Thus they devised the situational
leadership theory that focuses equally on the development of the team member
and the goal achievement of the organization.
noticed that there were essentially four types of team members characterized by
development levels (D) one through four. D1 members were individuals with low
competence for the job and high motivation. D2 members had low to some
competence and low motivation.
Low to some
Moderate to high
D3 members had moderate to high
competence but low motivation, and D4 members had high competence and
motivation. According to Greg Gardner and Gary L. Harrelson:
Competence is defined as the knowledge and skills a learner brings to a task and is best determined by demonstrated performance. It can be developed over time with appropriate direction and support during the formal and informal education of the learnerÉCommitment is a combination of a learner's motivation and confidence in a skill. Motivation is the level of interest and enthusiasm the learner has for acquiring a particular skill. 
The goal of situational leadership
theory is to move a D1 or D2 member to a D4 member. The beauty of situational
leadership theory is that it recognizes that the developmental level of a
person is not universal throughout the organization or ministry. For example,
just because a member is good at making a PowerPoint presentation does not mean
he is a good communicator, or vice versa. Therefore, the leader of the team
must assess each of the team members in their particular areas of
responsibility in order to determine how to lead the member into a
self-reliant, productive member of the team.
studies will show that most members enter a team in the D1 or D2 development
stage. While, they are probably correct within most organizations, it is at
this point that I observe that multimedia team leadership is quite different.
It is my observation that most people are asked to be a part of a multimedia ministry
team because they have some level of competence. Although not universal,
typically leaders do not go looking for members to join there team who do not
have any clue how to carry out the job. This is an advantage the team leader
has going for him because in most cases the person has bypassed the D1 stage
when it comes to team members primary role. This does not mean the team member
is not at the D1 stage in other essential elements (i.e. communication,
team-work, time management, etc &), but at least when getting their foot in the
door, there is some level of competency within the actual task they are
required to do.
assessing the developmental level each
team member has within each
desired trait within the team, the leader must then appropriately develop his instructional/leadership style to that member. Hersey and Blanchard put that, "The critical point [is that] leaders select the descriptors that best draw them into the appropriate style for a particular situation." The four different developmental stages call for four different leadership styles: (1) directing, (2) coaching, (3) supporting, (4) delegating.
Directing involves making the decisions for the
team members in order to aid in the
fewest possible mistakes while the member is learning what is required. This
requires high amounts of direction and low amounts of support. Coaching
requires the leader to be highly directive, yet at the same time highly
supportive. Once the leader reaches an appropriate time to use the supporting
level, it is essential for him to back off on direction but remain involved by
support. The final level of delegating is the ultimate goal for all leaders
and it is here where the leader essentially removes his hands except only to
monitor the effectiveness of the delegation of responsibilities.
At this point it becomes fairly
If development level is &
&the leader uses
evident that depending on what
D-level you are at determines what S-style of leadership is used. When there
is a D1 member, the leader adapts to a S1 style of leadership, when there is a
D4 member, the leader uses a S4 style.
paradoxical element of leadership is that if leadership is done correctly, the
leader is essentially putting himself out of a job. It is this reason why many
leaders are hesitant to develop members of their team past the D3 stage.
Leaders do not mind if team members are highly competent in their job.
However, some leaders do not want team members to be highly confident at the
same time. What leaders must realize is that very few people actually put themselves
out of a job. When a ministry is running itself effectively and smoothly there
is more time to invest in other elements of the ministry that were previously
not even plausible. The leader does not build up followers into leaders to
make himself useless, the leader builds
followers into leaders to make himself useful for higher purposes that are only realized with the
freedom and expertise of a competent and confident team. The fear of becoming
useless must be put aside in order for true situational leadership theory to
develop phenomenal team members.
the Bible itself does not support one leadership theory completely, it is clear
to see within the biblical text how situational leadership theory is used in
key places with some key people.
Jesus' leadership is still one of the most baffling human realities ever brought to the face of the earth. To follow a guy who actually informs His followers that they are to deny themselves, die to themselves, and follow him, is strangely odd in a world that tells its inhabitants that "life is about them." Yet if one looks at His method for calling, equipping, and empowering his disciples, one will realize that the principles of situational leadership theory were used very extensively by Jesus himself.
The initial call of His disciples is where the reader first finds Jesus using principles of situational leadership theory. In Mark 1:16-20, Jesus simply calls out the men to follow him with only the promise of becoming fishers of men. Here Jesus is highly directive and fairly low on support. Becoming fishers of men is not explained, and there is no room for discussion. They simply must follow Jesus' directive and commanded to give their time and energy to follow Him. The followers initially exhibit no competency, yet their commitment to drop everything and follow a man from Nazareth must have been very high.
Early on, the disciples have not necessarily become more competent, and are also waning slightly in commitment. Mark 6:6-11 is the famous passage of Jesus sending out the twelve. Jesus decides it is time for them to be sent out two-by-two into the surrounding area so they can experience ministry first hand. Jesus has transitioned to a coaching role in leadership. Even James R. Edwards points out that, "The sending of the Twelve appears premature and may catch us by surprise, for the record of the disciples to date has not been reassuring."
Jesus models that transitioning between D-levels and S-types can sometimes appear to be irresponsible, but the risk is vital in order to aid in the development of the member of the team. To do this effectively, He gives them detailed instruction concerning what must be done, and encourages them saying, "don't worry guys you can do this." Jesus is both highly directive and highly supportive.
Probably the greatest question ever asked by Jesus is "who do you say that I am." In Mark 8:27-33 Peter displays some level of competent understanding and informs Jesus that he believes that Jesus is the Christ. At the same time, we see Peter's wavers after Jesus informs the disciples what it means for Him to be the Messiah. Within this passage one sees Jesus take on a supportive role to leadership. He never really gives any clear directive as to what the disciples must do because He is the Messiah. Instead he takes a more supportive role by informing Peter that on the solidity of his statement is where the church will be built.
Jesus closes His earthy ministry to the disciples with what tradition has labeled the "great commission." Matt 28:18-20 says:
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
The disciples have finally reached a D4 level of followership/leadership. Their leader's response is to pull back on the direction and support. He recognized that they were competent and committed enough to take it from there. It is clear that Jesus never abandons them, as His own statement indicates that He will always be with them, yet at the same time, the church would never be the same, because from this point forward God entrusted His ministry to the human body of believers. In this act, God gives us the ultimate model of being a leader that essentially puts Himself out of a job.
Where it is hard to force Jesus into the situational theory of leadership is that he does not transition the disciples from D1 to D4 smoothly or in order. This suggests that these stages may be effectively used in other orders, depending on circumstances. Jesus does react situationally to his disciples by directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating with the final result of creating highly competent and highly confident disciples that are capable of bearing the burden of ministry after their leader had left. This is the key to situational leadership theory. (This is not to say that Christian leadership will be competent without God's direction. Rather, I focus on the fact that God entrusts the body to handle ministry in a relatively hands-off manner.)
biblical example of situational leadership theory is between Moses and Joshua.
In, Numbers 14 Joshua appears is a reconnaissance person for the Israelites.
Here Joshua is clearly at the D1 stage and Moses reacts by giving him clear
instruction with relatively little support. (As the story progresses, Moses
increases his support, while remaining fairly directive of Joshua when Joshua
is informed that he will
Promised Land.) Numbers 27 picks up the pattern of situational leadership when
Yhwh tells Moses to lay his hands on Joshua to give him some
of Moses' authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. At this point, Moses is not directing Joshua, but giving him the support and authority he needs to carry out his responsibility. By the end of Moses' life, the Bible clearly boasts that Joshua is competent and confident enough to take Moses' place leading the Israelites. Deuteronomy 34:9 states, "Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses." Joshua had become the D4 follower/leader that was required to replace Moses.
What is the key message of this research for leaders of a multimedia ministry team? It seems, the point is to realize that God made it a habit to transform people who were not competent enough to handle any element of ministry, into leaders who were capable of representing God. If God is capable of "letting go" and allowing those He has developed take on greater responsibility, so too should it be the goal of multimedia ministry leaders to be developing their followers to be able to confidently and competently handle the responsibilities within multimedia team leadership.
The ultimate goal
of a multimedia ministry is to draw participants into the presence of God
through multiple senses. The fine line any multimedia team leader has to walk
is the line between engaging and distracting. When dramas, videos, special
music and the like are added to a service, it is very for them to cross the
line of engaging to distracting by becoming the focus of the service. In
addition to that, it should be the job of any technical operator to minimize
distraction during the service. The paradoxical thing about working within
multimedia elements of a servic, is that you know you are doing your job well
when no one is noticing you. It should be a primary focus of a multimedia team
leader to effectively equip and support his team to minimize distraction and
What must stem
from any multimedia ministry is a vision for the ministry? Why does this
particular sub-ministry exist? Often, leaders within multimedia ministry teams
are not capable of creating a vision because no one has ever stressed the
importance of doing so. Throw in the fact that most multimedia leaders are
chosen based on competency with computers than leadership skills, and it is
easy to see how this necessary element to the team can be overlooked. In the
strictest sense multimedia is simply more than one form of media. Types of
media include the traditional form of speaking, singing, reading, but with the
growing use of technology they also include videos, graphics, and presentation.
In addition to these elements, dramas, presentation of communion elements,
incense burning and other experiences that draw on other senses should be
understood under the multi-media umbrella because they are all forms of
experiencing God through different medias.
It is essential for the church to
recognize that we must attempt to bring the message beyond the typical methods.
Thom Bower puts it this way:
by putting a message into video format will not automatically increase its
reception, nor should we merely copy the mediums being used in the boarder
community. But if we do not use electronic communications and use them well,
then our message may be ignored by many who fail to see the relevance of
anything we communicate.
The church gets its authority to use multimedia from both the Bible and church tradition. One of the best biblical examples of using more than one media to get a message across is found in Genesis 15:9-21. This passage is the first covenant made between God and Abraham. The strange thing is, in the midst of making a covenant, God informs Abraham to bring Him, "a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old along with a dove and a young pigeon." What follows is instruction for Abraham to cut the animals in half and put the halves on opposite sides of each other creating a stream of blood in the center. In ancient time, this was done to signify that it would be better for these animals than it would be for the two parties making the covenant if the covenant was ever broken by one of the parties. Here we see a perfect example of God and Abraham taking advantage of using a form of media - visual and sensory experience - to solidify the importance of a covenant. Sure, it isn't a computer and a multimedia projector, however, it does establish that from very early on, God expected us to seek and pursue His truth through more than one media.
There are countless other biblical
examples as well. There are over 140 references in the Bible to the use of
incense in worship. For centuries, worshipers have used incense to draw them
into worship. It is once again, an example of a different media that is
enabling worshipers to come into the presence of God, in this case through
smell. Even signs like circumcision and baptism, and ceremonies like communion
are all forms of media that are put in place to make the participant experience the worship of God holistically. The
biblical example of worship and pursuit of God is a holistic one, and therefore
that gives us modern worshipers the freedom to experience and interact with God
in as many different forms as we can.
Not only does the Bible give us justification to use multimedia in worship and ministry, but tradition as well. The problem with most people who oppose church multimedia is that they recognize this "new technology" as something drastically different from "old technology." At one point a book from a printing press was the newest form of technology. One of the main purposes of the printing press when it first arrived on the scene was to be able to print the Bible in mass amounts to allow the common man to experience God the way traditionally only the religious elite could. This said, the importance is to realize that a fully functioning multimedia ministry is much larger than a PowerPoint presentation, and it should be the goal of the leader of the team to develop it beyond that. Jennifer Proudfoot, a United Methodist symposium organizer said, "The gospel is still the same story - the story of hope and love - but we need to consider telling it in the new media so that folks might hear it."
Unlike a lot of areas within ministry that are confidential distrust inexperience, multimedia team leaders have a great opportunity to develop leaders because of the lack of confidentiality of the work and the close mentorship that is easily developed. Therefore, it should become the priority of the team leader to develop other leaders, not just task manage multimedia events. Leaders should assess the needs of the team and ministry, assess the current members of the team and where they are on the developmental scale, purposefully engage with the team as to advance the developmental level of the team member, and then look for areas of expansion in the ministry. When this is "completed," it should be the responsibility of the leader to take the newly developed leaders and effectively train them to be developing the newer team members.
Like all areas of life, communication is
key to the effectiveness of multimedia ministry. An effective multimedia
ministry will have healthy, open lines of communication in both directions.
Leaders should be looking for and expecting feedback and suggestions. Team
members should have a clear understanding as to the vision and purpose of the
ministry, as well as a clear understanding of their role within the ministry,
the role of their other team members, and the role of any leadership within the
sub-ministry. Expectations should clearly be laid out, as well as areas in
which the leadership is hoping for growth from the team member within the
sub-ministry. Finally, elements of the service or event needed to be clearly
discussed to all members of the team. If worship bands meet in order to run
through songs and discuss any problems or suggestions other team members have,
so too should multimedia ministry teams.
The action plan for the leader begins
with (1) assessing the current team members within the ministry. Once
determining the competency of each team member, the leader must then (2) being
to take specific, and direct steps that will move the team member into a higher
D-level of competency. Once significant members within the team are brought to
D4 level competency within the skills needed to lead the ministry team, the
team leader must then (3) take specific steps that will draw them out of the
actual production of the multimedia events. After this the leaders time will
be spent focusing more on developing the leadership skills of the team members, not their
technical competency. This will then (4) enable the team members (who are now
leaders) to develop new team members, thus the process starts all over.
So how is all of this going to change? It starts with leadership selection. The days of selecting multimedia ministry leaders simply on the standard of their capability to operate PowerPoint must come to an end. There should be greater expectations of the sub-ministry, thus creating greater expectation and demands on the leader itself. If desired results do not follow, there should be no shame in shifting members around as to create an atmosphere that allows for growth within the ministry. This will not always (or ever) be easy to do, however, it is vital if the leadership within the ministry is not producing the fruit of a healthy ministry. How long would a worship pastor "keep his job" if he were only a good musician but a horrible communicator and motivator? How long would a senior pastor keep his job if he was a phenomenal preacher, but had no ability to serve his flock in other ways? So why do we allow a leader within multimedia ministry to be good at PowerPoint or video producing, yet lack the essential skills of communication and team development? These principles must be realized within multimedia ministry leadership if it is to grow into a healthy sub-ministry that is enabling the engagement of the congregation into a meaningful time of worship.
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