by Prof. Stephen Fogarty
5th June 2019

“Church leadership is inherently TRANSFORMATIONAL: pastors have to inspire vision, move hearts and enlist enthusiastic participation as the volunteers realise what they’re doing is making a difference in the lives of others. ”

The importance of motivating volunteers became such an important issue to me that I devoted my doctoral research to explore leadership theory. A leader – in the church or in any field or endeavour – is one who exerts influence to motivate others to achieve agreed upon and desirable outcomes. Many pastors, I realised, are wonderful teachers and counsellors who know how to plan and organise programs, but too few of us are skilled at the one task that can propel exponential growth in a church: motivating and leading volunteers. Almost all of us assume what we do each day equips laypeople to serve effectively in the church, but very few do it well. We may be good preachers, ministers, or program directors, but we aren’t truly leaders.

 In essence, churches are volunteer organisations. If the life and health of a church relies on the paid staff, three very negative things happen: the staff members become exhausted and demoralised, the church people don’t grow, and the impact of the church remains severely limited. Employees of companies have a transactional relationship with the corporate office and executives in that they fulfil prescribed responsibilities for adequate compensation. Even if the employer is less than competent and lacking in encouragement and vision, most employees stay because they value their pay packets.

 A church, by definition, isn’t transactional. It doesn’t fundamentally operate on the basis of quid pro quo: therefore, rewards and punishments don’t work for very long or on many people. Church leadership is inherently transformational: pastors have to inspire vision, move hearts and enlist enthusiastic participation as the volunteers realise what they’re doing is making a difference in the lives of others.

Of course, people may have very different motivations for serving, but the pastor’s role is to move them from extrinsic, transactional “what’s in it for me” motivation to intrinsic, transformational, altruistic motivation with a heart that says, “I want my life to touch others for God’s glory.” For long-term effectiveness, pastors need to become skilled in transformational motivation.

Create a culture of leadership development

If at least part of the church’s mission is to make disciples, then leadership development is central, not optional.

 “If anybody should be audacious in the PURSUIT of knowledge it should be Christian leaders.”

The 21st century presents fresh possibilities for leaders and entrepreneurs who are willing to be bold and innovative in a fast changing landscape. This is why I am personally so invested in creating space for this kind of leadership development through our Masters of Leadership at Alphacrucis College. My team and I are running a one-week Transforming Leadership intensive designed for you, the contemporary Christian leader. The one-week intensive will be a residential development program providing practical work, excellent speakers and comprehensive support  - all structured to fit around leadership and ministry commitments. This program prepares you and your church or organisation to reach new levels in leadership effectiveness, whatever your background, academic qualifications, or ministry career path.

I invite you to be part of this exclusive cohort for four intensive subjects:

Intensive 1: begins 12-16 August 2019.

Intensive 2: 17-21 Feb 2020

Intensive 3: 17-21 Aug 2020

Intensive 4: 22-26 Feb 2021


By completing the four intensive subjects, you earn a Graduate Certificate in Leadership. You also have the opportunity to undertake a further 8 subjects and achieve a Master of Leadership.

For more information please visit:


Dr Stephen G. Fogarty has worked as an economist, pastor, church planter, college lecturer and is now the President of Alphacrucis College. He holds a PHD in Organisational Leadership, a Master of Arts of Theology, a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Diploma in Bible and Christian Ministries. He is also the author of: Light A Fire: How to Effectively Motivate Volunteers in Your Church

Photography:  River Bennett Photography