How We Do What We Do

We are strong believers that HOW we do what we do is as important as WHAT we do in our church.

We are strong believers that HOW we do what we do is as important as WHAT we do in our church

Grounded in the belief of the priesthood of all believers, and reflected in our Ethos, we know everyone hears from God in a unique way. Our collaborative approach to leading and sharing in the work of justice, kindness and humility is something akin to the way a jazz ensemble might approach music. Jazz musicians operate off of a chart of music that gives general direction (key and time signatures, the melody, and chord changes), but doesn’t instruct the players note-for-note, nor is there a conductor, giving exact direction. Instead, the studied musicians, take the framework of the song and make it their own, playing it differently every single time, and taking turns leading and following. This approach to making music involves a great deal of listening to each other.

We see this kind of deferential listening and leading happening within the Trinity, too, as God-the-Creator, God-the-Son, and God-the-Spirit interact within and with the world.

Practically, this means we don’t have a top-down leadership structure at Highlands Church. We have a staff team, led collaboratively by co-pastors, who “come alongside” over 50 ministry team co-leaders… individuals who have an idea of something they feel God is inspiring them to do. We have a Leadership Council which is tasked to make some strategic decisions on behalf of the church and monitor the health of the church, in collaboration with the staff and volunteers. Like jazz musicians, this approach involves a whole lot of listening, taking turns leading and following. And yes, it also means the process of “getting things done” might be slower or a little messier than we’d like. But we believe that the process is where we grow, and so the slowness and the messiness is worth it in the end.

Our Community Covenant

The key to collaborative leadership for us has been this Community Covenant (our Ground Rules for Leadership). Every year, our staff, Leadership Council and ministry team co-leaders all meet and spend time discussing this covenant before each agrees to do our best to uphold and live by these values. We believe that our efforts to do so are what make true collaborative leadership and listening actually possible, instead of an ideal that isn’t truly a reality.

Covenant 2015-16