Many congregations struggle to adapt to changes in their environment. Congregational and pastoral leadership is an important factor in a congregation’s success or failure. The emerging practice of Shared Leadership offers congregational leaders one tool that might help them successfully engage in the adaptive work necessary in the face of a changing environment. Recent research has connected the practice of Shared Leadership to increased innovation in businesses. This form of leadership should be explored as a model for congregations as they engage in adaptive change. However, because it is adaptive change that is required, and not only technical change, a holding environment must be constructed and maintained, which congregations practicing Shared Leadership might struggle to achieve. This essay contends that Shared Leadership might successfully create and maintain a holding environment through the cohesion created by internal commitment to a shared vision and trust, and the tension experienced from environmental changes, generative dialogue, and the shared leadership team’s influence upon others. Within this holding environment, shared leadership is poised to create innovative solutions to adaptive challenges that can be implemented by organizations.

Author Bio

Zachariah Ellis is ordained in The Church of the Nazarene and is active in the life of Mountainside Communion Church of the Nazarene in Monrovia, CA. Prior to this he served as a youth pastor in Baker City, Oregon. He graduated with an M.Div. from Nazarene Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing a PhD in Practical Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. His primary research interests are pastoral leadership, congregational formation, Wesleyan theology, and a theology of ordination. Zach lives in Pasadena, CA with his wife and two children.