Home > Organizational Structure > Discovering the “Right” Organization Structure for Your Church

Discovering the “Right” Organization Structure for Your Church

If you were to work in the HR Department for any major corporation, the first item you would want to have in your hands is an Organization Chart. Why? It tells you who does what, who they report to, what their function is, and in my case… do they have any real authority? This is a critical measure of success for any organization. Everyone, at their core, loves structure and understanding where they fit in the whole scheme of things.

So if you are in a church, is this really something you employ? Chances are, it will depend mostly on the size of your staff. Is there a need for an organization chart when there is only three people on staff… not really, but it may be helpful if you have a large network of volunteers.

The main purpose for the organization structure is found in the two words.

Organization & Structure

Function 1, provides organization to the effort, clearly establishing who is the central leader and divides tasks according to job function. Function 2, provides structure. Even the early church had a structure, chain of command, something that provided the disciples with a central nervous system for the growing church.

So what happens when you have a staff of more than 10 or an extensive volunteer staff with no organizational structure? My personal experience has been MASS CHAOS. The old adage, “right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing,” comes to mind. I have seen great mission statements destroyed by a lack of organizational structure in companies, but do we really have this luxury in the church? If we are to be held accountable for our mission, would it not make sense to move in the right direction, and all together.

According to Utah University’s white paper, there are two main items to deliberate upon when deciding on an organizational structure. The questions are:

1. How to divide the work among the organization’s subunits?

2. How to coordinate and control the efforts of the units create?

Bottom lining it…. 1. Divide it and decide 2. Who controls what?

Types of Organizational Structures:

Functional Church Organization Structure: This is more common of the the types we will be discussing. This structure is fairly simple in nature, resembling the picture below:

The above org chart is set up for a business, based on the line of business or function (hence the name). In a church structure, you would most likely have a structure similar to the one illustrated below.

This structure is ideal for a church with only a few ministries, one location, routine tasks, and a stable environment. Normally, the “Corporate Figure-Head” would be the pastor with the heads of the various ministries reporting directly to him. Again, this is ideal for churches with fairly mid-sized staff and stable church environments. When does this structure meet its capacity? Let’s look at an example.

Example: Let’s say you have a developed ministry including a men’s ministry, small group ministry, three divisions within youth ministry, a prison ministry, four campus facilities, a budget team, and not to mention the out-bound ministry teams. So at any given point the pastor may have roughly 11or more direct reports, all with different ministry needs. Did I mention that in addition to administering this team of people, the pastor is also expected develop a sermon series and spend ample time in prayer and with his family?

Cross Functional Church Structure:

This is a hybrid of the functional church organization model, with only one exception. This model provides three functional teams with each having a functional team leader. What does this model provide? It allows the pastor to spend time focusing on the direction of the church in prayerful discernment and less time on day to day administration. This also allows the pastor to become more of a SERVANT Leader than a simple front-linesman in a battle. Look at the structure of this method below.

Depending upon the size and ministry structure of the church, the categories of the functional teams may differ. In general, however, you will need one of the functional units to be over ministries. Some structures may allow for facilities to roll under the Church Administrator. However, if you have multiple campuses, or find yourself with several logistic issues, it may be better to have the facilities role separated out.

One of the major advantages to this structure, outside of the focus of the pastor on the vision for the church, is the ability for the functional leaders to be able to better support the teams reporting to them. Oftentimes, you may find some ministries suffering due to a lack of support or lack of time investment from the pastor. Perhaps, the pastor is being plagued by problem solving a be rage of logistic needs. This is where this particular structure has a major “Value-Add.”

Join us next time as we continue to break down the potential organizational structures of today’s churches.

How are some of your churches set up from an organizational perspective? What has worked and what hasn’t?

If you would like more information, please be sure to catch our next blog: Church Organizational Structure-the Pastor’s Role.

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:

Divide or Don’t Divide?  Church Organizational Structures

Questions for Church Organizational Structures

Reorganizing your Team According to their Strengths

Building the Right Church Team

Church Organizational Structures : A Bit More

Discovering The Right Church Organizational Structure

Discovering The Right Church Organizational Structure – Part II

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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.

  1. October 29, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    I want an organised church structure

  2. Joseph Paul Olufemi
    April 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Can you please send me a copy of this print for my studies and any other material for good management and administration in our church. thanks

  3. May 9, 2011 at 1:26 am

    What are you needing?

  4. David
    May 23, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I am an Assistant Pastor of a growing ministry, We are yet to get to a level where we can have staff paid by the ministry.
    However, I am trying to put together an organizational structure for the church which will include a BOARD as the final authority of the Church which is led by the Senior Pastor and the Assistant Pastor. Other than the other departments that are directly answerable to the board, what would be the responsibilities of a Board and what kind of structure would include the board and who would be eligible to be a member of the board?
    David Victor

  5. July 9, 2011 at 1:35 am

    I would have to give it some thought but right off the top, without thinking, I would have the board follow the role of the elders and deacons as outlined in Scripture. Let me get back to you on this one.

  6. Dawson Mudenyo
    February 13, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Hey Pastor David Victor,
    I am very much encouraged by your comments . I come from Kenya africa and I am working my a senior pastor to help develop some good funtional realistic church structures.

    David :Greetings,I am an Assistant Pastor of a growing ministry, We are yet to get to a level where we can have staff paid by the ministry.However, I am trying to put together an organizational structure for the church which will include a BOARD as the final authority of the Church which is led by the Senior Pastor and the Assistant Pastor. Other than the other departments that are directly answerable to the board, what would be the responsibilities of a Board and what kind of structure would include the board and who would be eligible to be a member of the board?David Victor

  7. Stephen Fisher
    February 25, 2012 at 2:16 am

    Where is the biblical pattern? Elders, Deacons, Bishops, Apostles etc….

  8. November 28, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    I’m curious where you would put the worship team – would it be under ministry? or communication? and the AV/Sound under facilities? our worship team, av, and sound are under 1 organizational heading but it isn’t necessarily efficient.

  9. Driver Minded Guy
    January 2, 2013 at 1:11 am

    I’ve seen it work a couple of different ways. Being a member of the worship team, I think both the AV and the worship team should flow up through the executive pastor who helps direct all ministries. If you have it under facilities, it diminishes the important role the ministry plays in the overall message delivery for the congregation.

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