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Video #9 - Key Recommendations about Organization and Leadership

Posted by Tom Bandy, Consultant on

Video #9 is about Key recommendations about Organization and Leadership which was aired on April 18 to our congregation. You may follow along with the video script below or watch the video!

Video “Script”:  Leadership Development Recommendations 

John: Welcome and the purpose of this video 

Question: What is your overall assessment of our current staff structure? 

Tom: You have some very capable people on staff, and they work together quite well. But over time, community has changed, ministry needs have evolved, and job descriptions have become unclear. There are overlap and gaps in responsibility. As you know, I describe the flow of church vitality as a process in which seekers become disciples. People are moved along in Christian maturity and service. Connected through hospitality, transformed through worship, matured through education, mentored in small groups, called and equipped into ministry, and sent out to serve Christ in the world. Right now, that flow is constricted or interrupted because there is a gap in staff leadership. In order for the church to grow, we need to fix that. 

John: Question: You make a distinction between staffing for program development and staffing for volunteer empowerment. What do you mean by that? 

Tom: This is one of the biggest changes in church growth since the 1990’s when you last had a consultation. Back then we deployed staff to manage all the different programs. The concentrated on doing good stuff but had less time to coach and mentor volunteers. As a result, staff became overwhelmed, and volunteers burned out.  

Today we understand that to sustain long-term church vitality we need to concentrate on maturing volunteers spiritually and equipping them practically. Staff don’t manage programs. They oversee a step in the flow of church vitality: guiding, maturing, and coaching volunteers to have joy in serving the Lord and effectiveness in blessing their neighbors.  

John: Question: What are the big recommendations to add or deploy staff?  

Tom: There are four big strategic moves for leadership.  

  1. Hire a new Christian Education Director but refocus and expand his or her job description. 
  2. Hire a full time Small Group Developer. You once had such a position, and your church grew; you have not had that position for some time and church declined. 
  3. Redevelop a staff position to focus on hospitality. This improves the whole Sunday morning experience and enhances all of your special occasions in community service and outreach. 
  4. Hire an Executive Minister who can partner with the Senior Minister to for administration, stewardship, staff and volunteer accountability, and future signature outreach ministry. 

John: Question: Let’s look at each of these big decisions. Why is a staff position for hospitality so important? 

 Tom: In the 90’s people connected with a church because of the quality of the programs (music, preaching, education, and so on.) Today people connect with a church because of the quality of relationships (spiritual maturity, leadership credibility, empathy, and trust, and so on.) Growing churches raise hospitality standards to be radically sensitive to emerging community diversity and are training volunteers to much high standards in communication skills and inclusive behavior. 

John: Question: How should the Christian Education position be refocused?  

Tom: Redeploy this person to develop both in-person and on-line education for a post-pandemic world. This shifts the focus of ministry multi-sites beyond the church building, and the priority to adult faith formation because thriving churches are equipping parents to be the primary Christian educators. Christian education is shifting away from weekly routine in Sunday school to a daily routine at home, work, and play. And educational resources and opportunities must be available 24/7. 

John: Question: Why is a new staff position for Small Group Development so important? 

Tom: This is a huge gap in the ministry strategy, and it is the key to volunteer empowerment. Small Groups are not just groups that are friendly and small. This is a ministry in which trained group leaders intentionally gather groups around shared interests and guide participants to build relationships around the core values of the church and grow participants in the bedrock beliefs of a church. The outcome is energized members with a clearer sense of personal mission and service. 

Small groups can be short or long-term but have a definite start and end time. Leaders then mentor individual participants to move them along into a new group or team for their spiritual growth. Basically, there are three kinds of groups. “Discovery Groups” introduce seekers to Christian life and faith; “Discernment Groups” guide members to clarify calling and build personal spiritual disciplines; and “Service Groups” do community ministries that simultaneously do good stuff and share faith. 

John: Question: Why is a new staff position for an Executive Minister so important? 

Tom: This is a position that has emerged among growing churches in the last twenty years. As communities become more diverse, ministries more complicated and personnel requirements more demanding, church administration and stewardship is also more challenging. An Executive Minister comes alongside the Senior Pastor to manage staff and volunteers and support the organization … freeing to Senior Pastor to concentrate on visioning, mentoring, preaching and teaching, partnerships in ministry.  

The other factor driving the need for this staff position is the development of a Signature Outreach Ministry, which often becomes a 501(c)3 non-profit related to the church. An Executive Minister can be key to its development and networking into the social service fabric of the community. 

John: Question: These recommendations are a big challenge organizationally and financially. What is your sense of priority and timeline?  

Tom: Of course, you will not do this staff development all at once. I think the immediate priority to hire and refocus the Christian Education position. And at the same time, you want to create the new staff position related to hospitality. This can also help you redevelop your contemporary worship option. 

Hiring the right Small Group Developer is crucial and it will take time. This is a specialized field requiring someone who is highly organized, understands accountability, and has experience in mentoring laity and empowering volunteers. It will likely involve a nationwide search among networks of larger churches.   

You have some time to search for a future Executive Minister because church membership is not quite at the level that demands it, and your future Signature Outreach Ministry is still unclear. It still puts added pressure on the Senior Pastor, but some key changes in organization and staff job descriptions will help in the short term.  

 John: Question: When it comes to volunteer empowerment, you make a big distinction between committees and true teams. What do you mean by that?  

Tom: In order to accelerate adaptive ministries, church boards need to sustain high trust environments so that they can delegate both responsibility and authority to volunteers. In the past, traditional churches only delegated responsibility but not authority. That meant that committees were limited in their initiative. They always had to ask permission, and approvals for even small changes could take weeks and multiple bureaucracies. It also relied on facilitators to chair committees rather than leaders to guide ministries. 

 A true team has real power to discern, design, initiate, and evaluate ministry without asking permission (provided that they honor the core values and beliefs of the church, share common spiritual practices, and follow executive limitations determined by the board. Teams require leaders who are more than facilitators.  

 Committee are elected or recruited to manage a program. But True teams are chosen by the leader and shaped around passion, calling, competency, accountability, and spirituality. They constantly adapt ministry to the changing environment of the mission field.   

John: I know there is a lot more to learn from your recommendations, and the staff and Session will be exploring these further. And we look forward to your future coaching as we implement a strategic plan for the future. 

Summation … last thoughts …  




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