At my previous job, I managed all the support functions of the
organizations; in other words, all the stuff that allows the people
that do the work of the organization to do that work. In our case,
the work was helping minority entrepreneurs. So the support functions
were what you'd see in any non-profit: fundraising, finances,
facility, HR, PR, technology, and so on.
To help me in these important functions, we hired a ton of college
interns. For many of them, this was their first exposure to the task
at hand, and so I tried to impress upon them the possibility that
their function could and should serve as a lever to influence the
entire organization. In other words, you weren't just helping keep
the books for an agency; you had in your power to make the whole thing
go better, faster, stronger.
Our approach to making such an impact was to simultaneously work for
others while getting them to work for us. Let's take PR as an
example. PR wasn't the central function of the organization; helping
minority entrepreneurs was. But PR could greatly support that central
function, by shining a light on the good works and the good people.
So we PR people were subordinate to the people on the front lines,
helping our clients. We daily put ourselves in a position where we
could do what we could, in PR, to help them succeed.
But simultaneously, in order to do that, we had to get them to work
for us. Just as their job was incomplete without us doing the PR work
to get them the publicity they needed, we couldn't do our work without
their cooperation. So in a sense, we expanded our team from me and
the interns to the entire organization. Because we set it up so that
everyone was doing their share of the PR work.
I make this very long-winded introduction to say that this is how
churches ought to run. I have a fair amount of pastor friends who I
talk to regularly, and managing staff and congregations is a common
subject; partly because this is what my pastor friends need help in,
and partly because they know I've had a fair amount of experience
Not many of my pastor friends decided to pursue the ministry for
managerial purposes; rather, they had shepherd's hearts, or were
gifted in preaching, or loved to teach the Bible. And yet, as
important as those roles are, I would argue that a pastor's
effectiveness (not to mention his or her happiness) is undoubtedly
bound up in the management of staff and congregations.
A senior pastor, after all, is among other roles the head of a staff
of people. And that is a grave responsibility, not to mention a
challenging one. How to lead a group of people, all of whom are ready
to serve but who have different roles and gifts and agendas? Too
often, management is under-appreciated, and as a result church staff
teams are less than the sum of their talented parts. And that is
really a shame, isn't it, since the work they do is so eternally
But it's not just about managing the paid staff, or even the committed
volunteers who put lots of hours every week. For a church is not
meant to be the few working on behalf of the many, but rather the few
setting into motion the work of the many. That's what Paul says in
his letter to the Ephesians: when he describes the various giftings,
the goal isn't to do work for a congregation but to put that
congregation to work.
Certainly, some of a pastor's role is to serve his or her
congregation, through counseling or preaching or exhortation. But I
would argue that a greater role is to put the congregation into
service, towards one another and the community of faith contained
within the church, as well as propelled outward to the neighborhood,
region, and world.
Us congregants have our role to play in this paradigm shift. After
all, we too often fall into a service laziness as it relates to our
staff. "We pay their salaries, so they should do the work," is that
implicit, if never spoken, attitude sometimes. And this is wrong and
Being a pastor is a hard job on a number of fronts. I hope that I can
encourage my pastor friends in the same way I encouraged my college
interns, to figure out ways to serve everyone so that everyone can be
put into motion to serve.