Rapport is the quality of the relationship between church leader and the people she or he leads. It is essentially the trust of the people, without which no leader can function. Even in highly structured, discipline organizations such as the military, no amount of authority in a role or command can long function without the officer’s rapport with those who follow.
Congregations depend on consistently competent leadership to live out its identity as the body of Christ (Colossians 1:24). It is incumbent upon pastors to provide that leadership. Congregations take their cue from their pastors. An emotionally “healthy” leader is not enough. While strong sense of identity and boundaries are necessary, leadership is about motivating and organizing people to act together for some purpose.
The first failure of pastoral leadership is disconnection from what the Holy Spirit is accomplishing in the ministry environment of a congregation. Pastors lack systematic skills in discerning God’s mission and a congregation’s calling within God’s mission. Instead, personal interests and preferences are presumed to be God’s will. Communal discussion and discernment for the purpose of listening to God are rarely practiced.
One of the essential tasks of a leader is articulating the vision of the congregation. Yet the congregation’s vision arises from God’s call for the congregation and is not an invention of the leader.