Lead Without Losing Your Heart and Soul

The Controvery Continues

The church is becoming too corporate.

That’s the fear of most church leaders. We live in the tension of growing our congregations and managing this growth without being criticized for losing our heart and soul.

Small or Large Church?

I grew up in a small church where everyone knew and loved one another. We had great Sunday school classes. I memorized scripture and learned the great stories of the Bible, but guests to our church were rare, and those coming to faith or getting baptized were even rarer. We had the heart, but we lacked a compelling vision and a strategy to support it.

I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the country. These churches are led by extraordinary visionary leaders who build teams that can implement strategies to accomplish the vision.

These churches are seeing people come to faith but often criticized for lacking heart and soul. Most leaders I work with find themselves deeply conflicted by these two types of churches. We want our congregants to feel known, we want to develop disciples, and at the same time, we feel a compulsion to reach more people and see more people come to faith.

Small churches criticize large churches of being heartless and spiritually shallow, and large churches criticize small churches for lacking vision and achieving a mission.

Who’s right?

In my opinion, both.

I don’t believe it’s an either/or. It’s a both/and.

The Great Commandment Philosophy

In my book The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership, I unpack my philosophy of leadership based upon The Great Commandment, where Jesus instructs us to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The implication in this commandment is to love God with all of who we are, with everything in us.

Instead of criticizing whether we’re too large or small, or arguing whether we’re too corporate, let’s focus on leading with all of who we are. Lead for the glory of God and the good of others.

The Four Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership

A more-in-depth look at the four dimensions of extraordinary leadership reveals insight into how God has wired us. We have the capacity to become an extraordinary leader if we are willing to embrace a deeper definition of leadership and apply it. 

HEART is the relational side of our leadership. It’s about seeing people, relating to people and loving them well.

Is your church leading with heart? Do you see a crowd, or do you see individuals? While this gets more challenging, the larger your church grows, you can create systems like small groups that allow people to be connected known, loved, and served within a small group of people.

Additionally, you can build great follow up systems so that new guests are greeted well and followed up promptly. Surprisingly some of the smallest churches can feel less relational to a guest. It’s easy for a guest to feel like an outsider if everyone who attends is so busy talking to one another that they don’t even notice they’re there.

SOUL is the spiritual side of leadership. It’s how we pursue our spiritual growth, and it’s the part of us that longs to connect others with God as well.

Is your church leading with soul? Your immediate reaction is likely, “Yes, of course! We’re a church!” But I often find that the larger the church gets, the busier we become with the tasks and processes of ministry that we miss the moments to minister to others.

This is where large churches get criticized for being too corporate. The team is so focused on implementing the plan each week that they leave little room for the spirit to move.

MIND is the strategic part of how God has wired us. Our minds are capable of building plans, organizing teams, and developing strategies that help us accomplish the work God has called us to do.

Is your church leading with the mind? The mind is what enables us to build plans and processes. The mind helps us make sound decisions that help us be good stewards of what God has entrusted us.

As churches, we steward the resources that people give out of faith and obedience, and we have a responsibility to make sure we are using those resources in the most effective way possible. It includes making wise financial decisions, managing our staff teams to make sure they can give their best talents and energy to the work.

STRENGTH is the visionary side of leadership because we know that without vision, people perish. We provide strength for our congregations when we can define why we exist as a church. We don’t exist for our comfort, but we exist to be on mission with God to “make disciples” and “draw all men to him.”

Is your church leading with strength? How clear is your vision? Is it specific to your community and those whom God has best equipped you to reach?

We can not assume that people understand the vision of our church. It is human nature to seek out what’s comfortable for oneself. If we feel known and engaged in our church, we can quickly forget that we are still called to reach people who are not yet here.

The Gift Within Every Leader 

As a leader, you must keep this vision in front of others. Notice, Jesus command doesn’t say, love God IF you have a heart or IF you have a soul
or IF you have a mind or IF you have strength. All of these dimensions are in us as leaders. We need to tap into all of these dimensions to lead in a healthy manner.

I believe great leaders and great churches learn to live in the tensions of leading from heart, soul, mind, and strength. They recognized the significance of each of them committing to bring all of who they are into their church leadership.

It’s not about whether it’s people or strategy. It’s both/and.

Manage the tensions and create a church culture that honors all of these dimensions equally.


Keep leading well.

Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group


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Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.

Jenni is the author of several books, including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.