Large congregations have been staffed a certain way for so long that we can’t imagine any other way: Head of Staff/Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, Christian Educator, Music Director. I grew up in these churches. Most multi-staff churches are still organized this way.
One easy-ish change over the past 50 years has been the Senior Pastor who promotes collaborative, permission-giving leadership. It’s increasingly rare – and often demoralizing – when the one at the top of the ecclesiastical food chain refers to the rest of the staff as “mine” as in “my Associate Pastor” or “my organist.” Red flag.
Some Senior Pastors say they are collaborative, but they are in fact threatened by that world class educator or effective mission coordinator. Another red flag.
This might be a good time to re-imagine the church staff – especially if your congregation is in transition. [Note: if you are part of a vibrant congregation your church is in a constant state of transition. This is good.]
- Imagine three congregations on the same side of town who share a staff of leaders.
- Imagine clergy couples who are not married to each other.
- Imagine several congregations who share a youth pastor.
- Imagine a 30-something lead pastor and a 60-something associate pastor.
These ideas are neither new nor radical. But most congregations will not even consider them. They are the tip of the iceberg in terms of some of the creative ways we might professionally staff a church.
And maybe the “professionals” we call/hire have been prepared for this ministry in unconventional ways. Imagine that.