This is a really important distinction. And it’s important that you keep making it clear both to your church and your staff team.
Some church staff members see themselves kind of like “consultants”. They are only at this particular church because that’s their job. That’s dangerous because that’s a completely different point of view of everyone else who’s part of that church. All your members aren’t paid to be there!! They choose to be there. In fact, don’t you hope they want to be there?
Rather, as you go about employing staff, the very first question to ask is: will you join this church? Will you make this church your home – not because your paid to, but because Christians are meant to be part of a church family.
Only after they’ve made that commitment to join the church, then you ask them to be part of the staff team.
Staff should be church members first, and staff members second.
A common issue raised with the idea of staffing according to purposes is that people won’t know who their pastor is.
The first response to this is to passive-aggressively infer that anyone who asks that question has some some sort of Roman Catholic view of priesthood. Jesus is your pastor, your brothers and sisters in Christ are your encourages. You don’t need to have “a pastor” to run to every time you have some issue of the faith (or of life).
The second (and less condescending) response is to affirm that Jesus gives his people a sense of respect for the pastors he appoints over them, and its perfectly natural for people to want to ask their pastor about issues.
The reality is that some people “click” with their congregational pastor, and some people don’t. If you don’t feel comfortable with the prospect of laying your cards on the table with the congregational pastor you’ve got… Chances are your holding back from investing into that church family.
However, when you staff for purposes, you give your flock a real ability to choose the pastor that they best feel comfortable chatting to.
Yes. If you move from one model to another, it won’t happen straight away. It will take time for people to get to know the other guys. But at their heart, all your staff who take responsibility for purposes, are primarily people focused.
Purpose staffing gives people more staff who care for them, and allows for a great variety of people in your church – not just people who feel comfortable chatting to you.
So there’s something like 5 big reasons or purposes behind everything we do in ministry… But chances are you have a bent towards 2 or maybe 3 of them. That is, you agree with all the big purposes, you love them, but you personally find yourself having energy to give to a few of them over and above the other ones.
On the other hand, there’s really just too much to do for all of the purposes. You can’t fit them all into a working week… Not just in terms of time, but in terms of focus. Mental focus. Even the above average minister just can’t keep a handle on how all those big things are going.
What happens then?
You end up with a “Congregational Pastor” who can only really focus on 2 or 3 big purposes. They get all the attention, all the effort, and the other purposes just trail along behind.
We see this a lot don’t we? One church is doing great things evangelistically, but you start to have concerns about their theological convictions and the type of people they let lead groups. Another church is great at welcoming people and expressing deep Christian fellowship, but they just struggle to be evangelistic or really skill people up into ministry roles. Another church does their Sunday meetings and singing really well, but they leave people feeling shallow and disconnected.
Staffing for purposes just says; we value all the things… We want to be a church that at least tries to be all these good things and develop in all thee good ways… So we appoint staff and volunteers to take responsibility for those things. We invite them to focus on those things, so as a team, and as a family, we do them all well.
If you’re in paid full time ministry, you’ve already thought hard about WHY you do the things your doing. You’ve thought hard about why you spend 10hrs on one thing, and only 2 on the other, right? (Ok well lets just assume you could justify it).
The fact is that all those things you’re already doing all fall into one of about 5-6 categories. Sure some might fall into two, some might fall into three. But they will have a primary purposes, with secondary outcomes.
So do a little exercise… Review how much of your week/month is spent trying to achieve these purposes;
- growing and facilitating people’s convictions about evangelism
- growing and facilitating people’s expression of Christian fellowship
- growing and facilitating people’s maturity in knowing God
- growing and facilitating people’s expression of thankfulness, obedience and love of God
- growing and facilitating people’s skills in service of the kingdom
Sure you might slice the cake a bit differently, but that’s what the things you do come down to, don’t they?
Why do you put effort into music? It’s a little bit of a few of them, but mainly because you want to provide a right and joyful expression of love for God, right?
Why do you meet with your growth group leaders? Because you want to help them grow others in maturity, right?
I reckon you can link everything you do in ministry to one of these big purposes.
See, you’re already doing them… But do you know which ones you do best? Do you know which ones you’re spending the most time on? Do you know which ones you’re neglecting? Do you know which ones are holding you back (humanly speaking) from growing?
I’ve spoken to a fair number of people who’ve told me they’ve tried the “purpose based” model of church staff, or sometimes they call it the “portfolio model”. But when you dig a little deeper, it turns out they haven’t ally tried it, what they’ve actually done is just reshuffle the cabinet.
They’ve kept Pastor Joe on as the evening church/young adults guy, and on top of that, they’ve given him the evangelism portfolio. But by that, what they mean is, “you have to run the evangelism STRUCTURE/EVENT for the other two congregations!”
Now, this is stupid for so many reasons…
- what if the pastors of those other two congregations don’t want Joe to run an evangelism structure for them? What if they don’t like how he’s going to run it?
- so, are the pastors of those other two congregations just meant to ignore evangelism in their congregations because Joe’s doing it?
- if Joes is still meant to be the young adults pastor, when on earth is he going to haven the opportunity to develop an evangelism initiate with the other two congregations? It’s not his priority, and it never will be.
- structures don’t work. They only provide an avenue for people to express what they are convinced of. That is, if people are convinced and excited about evangelism, they’ll use a structure to help them do it. If they’re not, putting something on isn’t going to change their mind
That’s why you should give your staff Purposes, not structures and not even portfolios. Set them a purpose, a vision for the people across all their congregations; “make us a people who are excited about evangelism, trained for it, and doing it”. That’s a purpose to work towards. That’s a purpose to staff!
If you have a team of staff you should assign them purposes not congregations. In other words; staff “team” = Purpose based model is usually best.
The reason for this is kinda simplistic, but it seems it needs to be spelt out. The fact is, if you already have a team of staff working in one or more congregations, they are already specialising in different areas of ministry. And they are already doing poorly in other areas of ministry. That’s ok because Jesus gave them gifts to serve the body in their own special way. They are, by the grace of God, particularly suited to helping the church be and do particular things.
Secondly, either you are a team working together, or you are a mother’s club getting together to talk about your respective children. Some church staff talk like they are part of a team, when they’re not; they just get together to talk about their respective congregations and then go their merry way.
You have to choose first and foremost; are you going to be a church staff team, or a gathering of church staff?
If you’re going to be a team, then leverage that to the best of your ability for the glory of God. Use one another’s strengths, give some people responsibly for some things and others responsibility for other things.
There are two very different categories of thinking when it comes to taking on MTS Trainees. First, you and your staff team, and your elders, and your key leaders, and everyone in your church needs to be convinced that your MTSers are NOT employees. They are different to staff. A church has staff for the sake of the church, for the sake of the kingdom’s growth through that church. Staff don’t do what they want, they don’t do what will help them grow as a person. Staff do whatever is needed.
And that’s why staff and MTSers might appear so similar. Often MTSers can be seen doing jobs that just need to get done. But that shouldn’t be WHY they’re doing it.
MTSers are not Employees, they are more like Developees.
Yes. I just made that word up. But it describes the real purpose behind taking on an MTSer. Taking on an MTSer is when a church takes on the relational, financial and ministry COST of developing a person towards becoming a Christian leader.
Is it costing your church’s effectiveness by letting an MTSer take on a particular role, task or job? If its not, then it’s worth asking… Is taking on this MTSer primarily good for you or good for them?
It’s worth being attune to the fact that some people have a tendency to be distrustful. The standard pattern goes something like this…
- they appear withdrawn
- you go and chat to them
- they say they don’t “feel” right about something vague they can’t really put their finger on
- you chat/convince/encourage them
- they say they feel much better
- they go along for a while seemingly ok
- they start to appear withdrawn
- you go and chat to them
- they don’t “feel” right about something, and they can’t see it’s the same vague thing they said before.
- and so on…
Thankfully, there’s not usually heaps of people who do this. But just know there are some and there’s little more you can do.
Chances are they’ve already changed from their previous church because they “never felt right”. And chances are they’re going to leave your church too, because it will never feel right.
Unless they see the problem is theirs, they’ll probably never find a long term church.
Our youth group used to meet in a school basketball court. It was great for games and activities, and the leaders thought the small group times worked pretty well. Until they moved to a purpose built venue with lounges and cafe tables and meeting rooms. All of a sudden the youth group kids started “discussing” and relating and talking about the passages and the study questions like never before.
They didn’t improve the studies or the questions or the leaders, just the “space” they met in.
The space you meet in has a huge, repeat HUGE, influence on how humans behave in that space.
People find it easy to discuss deep thoughts in rooms that are designed for people to sit around tables (with paper and pens out).
But you can’t have the same type of meetings in a cafe… The tables and the atmosphere is “lower”. It’s hard to have out pens and paper, it’s hard to silently consider and focus. The space just isn’t designed for that.
Don’t have planning meetings in cafes, book an office or a library meeting room. Don’t have casual catch-ups in meeting rooms, go to a cafe or a park or whatever.
The space humans meet in makes a huge difference to humans.
What type of conversation are we having? Because if you think we’re having a “Let’s come to an agreement before we move on anything” conversation, and I think we’re having a “tell me your ideas, perspectives, issues with my plans and I’ll decide” conversation, then chances are both of us are going to miscommunicate a great deal and have to come back and talk this all out all over again.
So stop talking, and make clear the TYPE of conversation you’re having. It’ll save hours of painful untangling conversations in the future.
And don’t we all want to avoid those?
There’s only two things you can do when you face a tension; a situation when you are faced with two good things and you can’t easily do both they way you’d like to.
You can either solve the tension or manage the tension.
Solving the tension means coming up with a simple solution. It usually ends with all parties agreeing they they will loose something they think is important. It often looks like a “policy” eg; “we will give twice as much to mission as we do to maturity, financially, time, effort, prayer, etc”. It attempts to have the conversation once, get it all clear for everyone involved, and free people up to get it done, so they don’t waste time having to keep hashing it out to see who gets what, and never getting anything done.
A tension to manage, however, is the opposite. It’s about not having a policy and keeping the two principles always on the table. It means that no one is ever satisfied. It’s choose to live with dissatisfaction on both sides. It’s choosing to always want both sides of the tension to be perfect. It’s a decision to have conversation after conversations and verge on arguments again and again. Yes, you will need to make a decision and it will fall on one side it the other, but that’s just that time, next time it might fall the other way.
I reckon almost all the Christian life is a tension to manage. Now but not yet, sinners and saints, mission and maturity, work and rest, duty and awe, respect of outsiders and being a fool for Christ.
I wonder what that says about God?
As a general rule, people who end up in Full-time paid ministry are they type of people who can either say “yes” to everything (and get it done), or they’re the type of people who feel comfortable saying “no” to things that others want them to do.
If that’s you, that means your weird!!!
Most people can’t deal with saying “yes” everything, and most people don’t feel comfortable saying “no” when asked to do something.
Now, simply stating that people should feel comfortable saying “no” misses the point. You know that, because you probably find it easier than most, or you’ve learnt how to do it for years.
So, understand you’re different and that people probably aren’t all like you. And after you thank God, help them work out whether they should be saying “no”.