Maybe you’re a new pastor and want to organize your church for maximum fruitfulness for the Kingdom of God. Where do you start? There are various models, but I’ll share what worked best for me.
First, you need an official Board; ours was comprised of six deacons and two elders. The deacons oversaw the practical matters of the church, and the elders handled spiritual matters and discipline. They were selected by a nominations commission and ratified by the congregation.
All board members must be screened and approved first by the nominations commission, then by the board, and finally by the pastor.
My first four years as pastor, I suffered through my share of floor elections and the miseries they brought.
When candidates for the board are not screened, and simply elected from the floor of a business meeting, you can get people who don’t share your vision, doctrines, or philosophy. And it creates tension, hinders growth, obstructs unity, and a whole host of other matters that can turn your church sideways.
People in leadership must be qualified biblically. Every deacon and elder represents the pastor to the congregation. An unbiblical understanding of a church board can have the same effect on a church as an evil principality. Here are resources that may be beneficial to you;
- Toxic Committees and Venomous Boards (book)
- The Honorable Board Member (audio)
- The Honorable Board Member (toolkit)
- Heart to Heart Talks with Young Pastors (audio)
Remember, all board members represent the pastor—not like a “congress”
Second, you’ll want a staff member for all Departments whether they are lay staff or paid. There is only one pastor for any church, even though we call the staff members Pastor Jim or Pastor Maureen. No “senior pastor” No “lead pastor”; there is really only one pastor and each staff member represents the pastor.
I set up only eight departments (not including executive)
The Pastor acts as coach; he loves the team, instructs them, and disciplines them if necessary. That’s why an effective Pastor has to understand relationship dynamics and personalities.
As you grow, you may want an Executive Pastor, Associate Pastors, Assistant Pastors. You need to develop a staffing strategy. Research shows that if you have too few on staff, the church suffers; if you have too many, growth is stunted. Here’s the best research I’ve found, and I applied it when I was pastor:
- One pastor (minister) for every 300 people in Sunday worship
- Plus one support staff member for every 300 people
Example: Youth have 600 in regular attendance. How many ministers and support staff are necessary? Four. (two ministers and two support staff members)
The Church is like a body.
A healthy body has order and organization, with all the parts in the right places, functioning perfectly as they were designed.
Develop an organizational chart with pastor, executive pastor, associate pastors for each department, and assistant pastors for each division within a department.
Add support staff positions to your chart and begin by filling them with faithful lay people. When the right numbers are reached in a department, bring the layperson on as a full-time staff member. (The concept of part-time ministers just doesn’t work, except in the case of a retired pastor who still wants to serve in some capacity.)
It is not an exact science, but this is what worked best for me for over 30 years and kept our church in the black and on the grow.