Richard Exley Ministries

Building an Effective Pastoral Staff

Although committed volunteers will always do much of the ministry, there is a growing need for an effective pastoral staff.  As the congregation increases in size and the scope if its ministries multiply, a competent pastoral staff is required to provide oversight and direction.  The most common staff positions include associate pastor, church administrator, youth pastor, minister of Christian education, single’s minister, music minister, minister of pastoral care, minister of evangelism, children’s pastor and a senior adult pastor.  Some larger congregations also have a fine arts pastor and a media pastor.

The purpose of the pastoral staff is not to relieve the laity of their ministry, but to more effectively equip them for the work of the ministry (see Eph. 4:12).  This is accomplished through training, pastoral oversight, preaching/teaching, and the administration of the church.

Few pastors inherit a large church with a pastoral staff already in place.  The challenge for most is how to build an effective staff.  How to know when it is time to add staff?  What positions to fill first?  (click here to continue reading)

Some pastors believe in “staffing for growth.”  They add staff before the actual size of the congregation mandates it.  Their thinking is that by filling key positions they can facilitate growth.  Of course the challenge they face is to fund the position while waiting for the expected increase in attendance and giving.

Other pastors add additional staff only when the size of the congregation makes it necessary.  This minimizes the financial burden on the church, but it often means the current staff is overworked.  As a result they have little or no time for developing vision or adding new ministries. 

Whatever strategy you choose you will have to decide what position to fill first and who is the best candidate for that position.  Once the staff is in place you will need to exercise a leadership style that develops team spirit and facilitates the personal growth and ministry of each individual staff member.
 
Once the church has reached the place that you (the pastor) can no longer minister effectively without help, you must decide which staff position to fill first. Because you care about your congregation, you may be tempted to build your staff around their perceived needs.  Should you do so you will likely discover that you have built a staff more for maintenance than for growth. On the other hand, if you select staff positions based on your God-given vision you will be positioning yourself and the church to become all God has called you to be.  Remember vision is generally outward looking, while need centered thinking is usually inward looking. 

Well do I remember a time some years ago when I was faced with this very dilemma.  There were those in the congregation who thought we should add a minister of music to our pastoral staff.  We had a number of professional musicians and singers in our congregation and they reasoned that a competent professional could best serve their needs.  While I could see their point, I had to weigh it against the vision God had given me for our body. 

Through our radio ministry we were reaching an increasing number of spiritually wounded people.  As more and more of them flowed into our fellowship we were being overwhelmed with requests for counseling.  To my way of thinking a minister of pastoral care was far more critical than a minister of music.  We had gifted volunteers who were capable of directing our music ministry, but no one to over see the ministry to the hurting people God was bringing our way.  If we were to fulfill our God-given vision to be a healing center we needed someone to direct our counseling center and to lead our healing groups.

Thankfully, after prayer and considerable discussion, the elders came to the same conclusion.  With their blessing I called a minister of pastoral care to serve with us.  Under her leadership scores of desperately hurting people found healing and deliverance.  She trained a number of anointed lay leaders to help with the ministry.  Together they developed healing groups for victims of abuse, sexual addition, domestic violence, divorce recovery and post abortion counseling.

Under the able leadership of gifted volunteers the worship ministry continued to flourish.  Undoubtedly an anointed professional could have taken it to another level.  Given different circumstances that may well have been the way to go, but in our situation it was not to be.  God had not called us to be a center for praise and worship – though that was an important part of our ministry – but to be a healing center for hurting people.

Is there a principle here?  I think so.  Build your staff based on your God-given vision, not on the perceived needs of the congregation.  Add staff to facilitate growth, not for maintenance.