Church Organizational Structure- The Pastor’s Role
In our previous post on Church Organizational Structure, we discussed the various types of structures a church can have to complete their mission. It seems this is a topic of great interest since this topic along with the post on Church Job Descriptions received a lot of traffic. So what about this topic makes it so interesting?
In reviewing the state of the church and these topics, I could only surmise that like many businesses, churches are trying to accomplish the most with the least costly church organizational structure available. The most common solution in the business world it to simply cut the staff to the bare minimum and hope your service levels do not diminish. In Church Organizations, however, this is not a luxury we have since our “service level” is tied so closely to the Gospel we preach. So what do you do if you are in this situation? It is a tough position to find yourself in, however, there is a way out. Let’s look at your current issue in picture form:
So you have these three situations staring at you, all seem to be separated and you are trying to somehow find or prayer through a way to merge them together to resemble something like this:
Is there a way to do it? There is, however, it will take a paradigm shift for some who are used to or trained by your more structured churches. Many of us become bound by the old syndrome of “this is how it has always been done.” Let’s take a look at one role that most likely is the one that needs the most change.
If you look at most church organizational structures, you will find at the top of all of the organization structures is the pastor. Depending upon the size of the church, this is not a bad thing. I say this tongue and cheek. If you are a pastor, then I a more than sure you know this word is used 173 times Bible and can describe the feeding of sheep as in Genesis 29:7 or the spiritual feeding of human beings as in Jeremiah 3:15, “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (KJV). So where’s my struggle?
I struggle when I see some churches of moderate size and growth with pastors who are doing everything for everyone. Sometimes, when someone is called into ministry (speaking from experience as a youth minister), we tend to think that Christ has uniquely called us to be everyone’s helper, teacher, prayer partner, and shepherd, all at the same time. Granted, in smaller churches or churches in the early stage of the life cycle, this is a necessary trait to have. Unfortunately, as the church size and mission grows, it is hard for some of the pastors to grow out of that mind set. It is in this transitional time period that pastors are to transition more into the shepherd than a simple herdsman.
Jeremiah 3:15 is a great example of what a pastor should ultimately work toward. It does not say, “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall administrate you, take care of the church finances, run from board meeting to board meeting, etc.” It has become an epidemic in some churches for pastors to run from one meeting to the next, schedule time to minister to those in the hospital, cut the grass, and by the way, schedule some time to work on the sermon series for this coming Sunday. Granted, there are pastors out there who put the message first, but I am not talking about them. I am talking about the pastors who are so busy with church life, they forget the main objective for this role is to feed the flock. I find it no coincidence that Jeremiah 3:15 states God will “shall feed” the flock and the answer Christ gives Peter after the reseurrection is the “feed my flock.” (John 21:15) So if the primary and daresay, most important role of the pastor is to feed, why then, does the feeding duty usually come at the end of list?
It is for this reason in the series on Church Organizational Structure discussed establishing an Executive Pastor, or if you were to use business terms, a COO. What is the role of the Executive Pastor? Quite simply, the Executive Pastor is the day to day manager of the ministries for the church and anything else that is needed to be overseen to allow the Pastor to spend time in prayer, discernment and preparation for delivering the Word. Should the pastor be involved in the church activities? Of course, the pastor should know what is going on and weigh in on major decisions, participate in meetings, and handle ministry needs throughout the church. However, with having an Executive Pastor, this becomes something the pastor can choose to participate in. The pastor is then able to focus more on “feeding the flock” than simply administering it.
Another wonderful benefit to this Church Organizational Structure is the benefit of rest to and for the pastor. How can one preach and teach the Gospel on Wednesday, Sunday, or however many services your church may have, if they can barely keep their eyes open? Pastors, like Jesus, need to have time to rejuvenate themselves both physically and spiritually. Even Jesus would take time to go to the mountain and pray or would take a nap in the boat while his disciples manned the boat.
So again, if you find yourself in this type of a situation:
and you want to get to this:
It may be a time for you to shift your focus. If you are a pastor reading this, then who on your team can be made an Executive Pastor to help allow you to focus on connecting with the vine that is Christ? In the following blogs, we will have some basic, generic job descriptions for you with one of them being that of the Executive Pastor. I hope this will be some help for you.
If you to have this type of a situation and would like an outside opinion from someone who has helped organizations with this type of a process, please contact Christian Management Consulting. We will partner with you and help walk you through a step by step process of evaluating your current Church Organizational Structure and developing a plan of action.
If this article was of interest to you, please check some of the others in this topic by clicking on one of the titles below:
About the Writer:
Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.