“Major Concerns”

These are the seven very important areas I cover with pastors after going over the areas where they have questions, and character and connections with our Lord. Perhaps some of them will provoke questions or even make you wonder how the coaching relationship could work.

For Overview (click here)

To search for content under each area:

1. Click on the desired area under ‘MAJOR CONCERNS” category to the right.
2. Enter a key word in the search box.

The Board of the Church

The main board of a church is either a very good car that helps to get the church where it should be going, or a clunker that goes as slow as can be and could never pass a state-of-the-church inspection if there were one.

In the one case, it is a shame,  for there could be correction.

But let’s start with two huge factors that call for unselfish thought if the best is yet to come:   the number of boards, and the function of the board.

How many boards does it take to make a church go?
Let’s define a board as a policy-making team that gives guidance and protection to the local church.

If you agree with that definition, or even something close, you must say there should only be one.   Period.

Many established churches started with a board for guidance and a board for care and one for finances for sure.   Throw in one for ministry or service – often called The Deacon Board in some traditions —  and you can see the confusion coming.   Are we talking three or four heads to this church?

Travel back in time 200 years or more in the States, and many churches had a circuit-rider preacher  who moved between two or even five churches, so he preached and up to 14 “commissions”  did the planning and ministry in the various areas of what was church life then – worship, Christian education, youth,  Bible study groups,  care, etc.   Sometimes that system has stayed, in spite of the assignment of one or more pastors to that one particular church.

Then the confusion often is about how the worship pastor relates to the worship committee or commission, and what the youth director must clear with the youth committee, and who does the actual work, and who says to do it that way?

The ideal is to have one board that has the clear assignment of Big Picture,  allows the pastor and staff and volunteers to do the ministries, using teams of volunteers in every area.

Some of those volunteers might be members of the one main board,  but they serve as Christian volunteers or servers,  not as board members or elders.

Even when a church has just two boards or policy-making committees,  and one is the finance people,  the church is asking for fist-to-fist conflict or slow clunker confusion at best.

Ministry takes finances.  If the board frees the staff and volunteers to do a certain ministry,  but the finance team or board does not get it or want to get it and do it,   there go the finds.

And here comes the stalemate.

Welcome to our church!

And what does this one board  do?   Let’s see its agenda!

 A second major checkpoint relates to what the board of a church is to do.  Why do they meet?   What is on the agenda?

Since we are talking the established church here, it is healthy to look back to the way this started.

Let’s say the church started 35 years ago,  probably with the vision of a church planter-pioneer or the plans of a “mother church.”   The lead pioneer naturally gathers an advisory group or church board or ministry team to get church going.   It makes sense to have one of those people on that board or team be responsible for evangelism,  another for youth ministries, and,  “Eric, would you be responsible for missions?    We have got to always keep missions a big item for our people?”

Now, 35 years later,  the appendix have never been taken out.    One of the board members is the overseer for evangelism, and another for youth, and the agenda can even include reports from them and their areas.

Or this board still goes down through the various main areas of church ministries to see how they are doing to  give direction.

We’re talking nice people with high motives holding a church to a certain size, freezing it at a common plateau of about 200, for instance.

I mean if a board is going to handle most ministries of the church,  growth of those ministries is going to be severely limited.

We have us a clunker.

It can chug along with good feelings, even,  but there will be no rapid growth.

One board chairman, who obviously liked the way that board covered everything, was honestly clear:  “We like to control everything, and we think it is good for the church.”

Of course they did,  but they were wrong.

And everyone who spends time studying churches and the ministry of the boards would say they were wrong.    If all ministries and even volunteer appointments in many cases have to be routed through the main board of the church,  it will chug and stay about the same size.   Usually under 200.

And clearly there is nothing wrong with a church being under 200.   Some of these best community or fellowship happens there —  even better when the total is under 90!

But every healthy church that size wants to grow bigger, to touch more lives, to help to win more unbelievers to the truth.

And they should have such a mission in mind.


What should this one board do?   What is its ideal assignment?

 This is the major issue, for many church boards do whatever.   Many spend much of their time on what the chairman decides to bring up, or the concerns of one of the charter-member families.

Often there is unprepared discussion into the late hours of the evening in response to the open question from the chair, “Anything else we should discuss?”

Some churches when being established wrote a constitution that said what should go to the main board or council:  “All matters of direction for ministry for the church.”    That would be everything.

This is why I like and propose “The Soccer Field.”

The one board is called by the church to be responsible for the four “sides” or boundaries of the church, and the pastor and staff and people involved in the daily and Sunday ministries of the church,  are free to minister and grow and care and evangelize and plan – all within those boundaries.

The main board cares for the big picture – with the pastor involved in that as a voting member of course;  the pastor and staff and ministry leaders have the freedom to grow ministry and carry out vision in the daily work of love and grace.   They “enjoy the game” while “keeping the rules.”

Let’s explain the four sides of The Soccer Field:

Foundations:

Statement of faith—this hardly ever changes, for good reason!  But any clarifications or questions of deviation would go to the main board.   When changes are necessary, they would recommend them to the membership.

Constitution – many of these do need clarification or updates.   Often they were written when the church thought it needed many “commissions” to carry out the ministries of the church.  Often the governance of the church was given to the entire membership, calling for frequent members meetings.   Maybe that was fine when the church was fifty strong, and the schedules of people were light,  but will not work today.

Restoration-discipline – this suggestion is that the board establishes policies for this controversial and difficult area, not that it handles all the cases.

Resources:

Budget – the one main board must establish a process for the budget formation that is workable and geared to the number of staff and ministries.   They should also approve the annual budget or recommend the exact totals to the membership.

Finances —  using a finance committee that has leadership and multiple members from this board, to avoid stalemates,  this board watches monthly reports, sets salaries,  manages audits,  and makes policies for strong financial ethics.   Gone are the days when the financial secretary and the treasurer were husband and wife,  or the pastor signed the checks!

Building expansion —  any recommendations for purchase of property and building programs would be recommended by this board after a study that they ordained.

Property – this is also related to purchase or possible sale of property, and detail work can be done through a committee charged with that purpose of course.  When the church is over 4-500,  we recommend that a properties committee do the study and make the recommendations to the membership.    This standing committee should have  leadership from this board and one or two other members in addition to some others skilled in this area.   Again, this is to avoid stalemate  that can happen when the staff and board seek one direction and a property or trustee group is not in on the planning and goals.

Guidelines:

Purpose — the purpose or mission statement should be adopted by this main board,  and it most cases it is developed by them and staff.   Some of the profit for doing this is in the actual writing, for those doing this think hard about “why we are here.”   Then this board keeps this in mind, along with the values, as any new directions for the church are considered.

Values —   these also are important for self-assessment, and to guide the growth of the church.   They will always be some memorable variation of grace,  worship,  community or connections and groups in the church,   mission (including missions local and global, but also defined DNA of the church and why it is there),  and integrity (of ethics and true “oneness” of its message with Biblical truth and real life).

Overall policies – these are the ones that apply to all events and staff and operations of the church.   Any perks for staff – mileage paid for car use,  health insurance, reimbursement policies —  are determined here, often after first study by the finance committee.  Also factors determining who can serve on staff or in a teaching role would be formed here.

This is not about issues determined about procedures in particular ministries – whether to have a men’s breakfast, or when to charge for an event, or when the youth group should meet.   (Many of the details of church life are indeed determined by this board or the advisory groups as a church starts, so this may involve change for the sake of expediting ministries.)

Goals:

Culture —  the term seems nebulous,  but it is important.   This involves the mood of the church,  its involvement in politics,  the characteristics of the pulpit presentations in general.   How does the church determine the leadership areas for women,  new attenders,  youth?   These may come under policies finally, but they first show up under this culture issue.

“Product” – not that we see people as commodities!   But the board might best determine “what we would like to see people know and believe and do if they are here for five years and more.”  This is not about dress and political views,  but rather emphasizing what the church seeks to teach, and what practices it advocates for personal growth and mission.   For instance, some churches have diagnosed certain characteristics they would hope would be formed in their people through the years – people who pray, worship, give, serve,  witness,  love others,  advocate for God’s view of family, etc.   All departments of the church then pull in this same direction.

Other board responsibilities:

As noted on the diagram,  the main board is responsible for the call and annual review of the senior pastor, and clear recommendations of any votes that go to the membership.   Constitutions differ on how many issues must be handled by the larger membership group.

Yes there is trust from the membership to have such a board, but with clear guidelines for them.

Yes there is trust from the board to free the pastor and staff and all who volunteer their time for ministry and teaching and outreach,  but with defined lines.

It works well.

So how do we get to one board rather than multiple policy teams?

 Carefully  — full of care.

If  “people hate changes and surprises,”  as church consultant Lyle Schaller always warns,  we don’t spring this on them with urgency – “Let’s go to just one main board,  and eliminate the others.”

In some churches that would be a declaration of  war,  perhaps a seven-year war,  or maybe 40.

Change must begin with the pastor, usually, then with prayer and information, starting small with the second.   Often there is a council or church leadership group made up of either all of the main boards or committees, or at least their leaders.

It is there or with the main spiritual leadership board, often called elders, that the plan to move toward one main board can start.   They and other “tribal chiefs,”  influential people who care and speak up on such things,  should know the reasons why!

The issue is simplicity of mission,  not,  “We have more than one board.”

There is no way to prove how they did church from the Bible, either, since the variables are so numerous.   Who gave policy input in the house churches, for instance?   If you had apostles, what else do you need for vision and direction!

People do care about the church, and those who have been involved in the various boards of the church know when it is cumbersome and care to expedite ministry.   Hopefully they will get it as they see the good of one board and what it can do.

And that is the good of “The Soccer Field” diagram.   The picture says more than a thousand words, and the call for freedom for the “ministers” of the church – all the pastors and directors and volunteers also – to “play” and serve within the boundaries, is important.

Also,  the clear protection or boundaries for the staff and ministries answer the concerns about the proverbial power-hungry pastor or renegade ministry leaders.   The one board has strong responsibilities.

What does the pastor and pastoral staff do?

 They “play” in the infield,  within the boundaries of The Soccer Field indeed, but with freedom and flexibility to move swiftly.

They recruit and train volunteers for their areas, including sometimes volunteers from the main board, who serve not as elders or board members but as Christians who wish to help others.

They report to the pastor,  not multiple people, or the board in general.  Often church boards have asked all the staff to report to them, causing confusion, multiple bosses, and weakening the  role of the staff leader.

Obviously the lead pastor may designate associates to help in staff organization and reporting,  but he or she cannot abrogate responsibility for the staff.

Long-time traditions in established churches have the membership electing all kinds of “offices,”  most of which might be better left to appointments by the appropriate staff members.

A lot more about the pastoral and staff responsibilities are in their appropriate chapters.

I do think movement to this type of one main board for a church can be a very good and comfortable vehicle to help get a strong church where it wants to go!

ANNUAL REVIEW OF A PASTOR

Everyone on one of the committees would grade the pastor from 1 to 7 before the meeting. Six or seven is wonderful. Four or five is good. Obviously 1 to 3 is poor and cause for action and improvement.

We should meet ahead of time to compare grades and come up with one main grade given with the unity of the committee. That way they’re not arguing about their feelings or grades in the actual meeting with the pastor.

“MAJOR CONCERNS”

1.  Personal
Our pastor teaches well and works hard at both sermons and lessons. 1-7

Our pastor leads well and has vision for the church and carefully brings others on to the team and with unity. 1-7

Our pastor shepherds well and has a system of caring through the groups and also shows love individually to people. And from the pulpit. 1-7

Our pastor seems to have a good schedule to attack each week, covering the essentials of administration and care and study and pastoring and discipling. 1-7

2.  Staff
There seems to be a good organization of staff, and other staff in addition to the pastor have their assignments and do well as a team. 1-7

Even areas that are not prominent roles of pastors or directors are covered by the staff and buy a strong volunteer managers. 1-7

3.  The board
There is clear definition about what is the pastor and staff role and what is the board’s role in church ministries and organization. 1-7

There a strong unity and direction between the pastor and the board. 1-7

Board meetings are well organized and stay on target. 1-7

4.  Love
Our pastor shows love to the people and they know it – both privately and publicly. 1-7

5.  Preaching
Our pastor explains the meaning of the text, and preaches with exposition of what God meant when He had it written. 1-7

Our pastor shows that he really means it when he preaches. It has obviously gripped his own heart. 1-7

Our pastor uses strong appeal to our own hearts, so that we leave wanting to do what has been said in the Scriptures. 1-7

6.  Groups
There is clarity about the purpose of groups in the church, and the various kinds do not compete with each other but meet needs. 1-7

Our pastor has his own discipleship or camaraderie or accountability group. 1-7

7.  Mission
As strong values in the Pastor keeps them in front of the people. 1-7

We have a strong presence in our community as well as strong care for worldwide missions. 1-7

Everyone knows they were strong and a integrity In our pastors life and with our church practices. 1-7

Suggestions I have for our pastor: _________________________

Ways we can help our pastor better: _________________________

Are we providing adequate and strong financial resources, salary, and time away? ___________________

What hopes does our pastor have for better church-pastor relationships? ___________________

Preparing a worship service and sermon with people in mind and heart!

The grand teacher of homiletics, Haddon Robinson, always taught that you should plan your sermon by (make-believe or real) sitting around a table with a 14-year-old, a widow,  a divorced person, married couple, young person, and an older retired person. I think he said five or six people.

The much less famous and less adequate student and sometimes teacher of homiletics, my wife’s husband, always emphasizes that there are three kinds of people sitting in the room and we must be conscious of all three for the whole service!

  1. A strong believer who is there rain or shine and believes everything in the Bible even when he cannot understand it and follows Christ. Your wife would be one of those,  and so would I.  Preach to us.
  2. The person who makes it to church one out of four if possible and  thinks he maybe believes in Christ most times I think perhaps.  How many of these are at your church?  We certainly do not know.  But we must preach to them also (and plan the service with them in mind also).
  3. The person unsure of just about everything who is  checking out the church that day.    We wish there were more them and want to preach and plan so people who are 1 and 2  are eager to invite friends who are 3s.
  4. The person church-shopping who just got disgruntled at another church because he was #1 and the church aimed for #3 or vice-versa.

🙂   I am not including #4 in our planning,  real as it is.

My experience in planning my own sermons and when I helped to plan the worship service, and set the direction for it, is that it is easy to think of only one of those groups.  Maybe two.

My experience in coaching pastors the last nine years is that it is easy and natural to lean toward either group 1 or group 3,  and hard to try to touch all three.  Sometimes that is related to the age or the conversion day of the captain of the ship,  but often it is just habit and sometimes a blind spot.

A good heart study and then staff discussion and then board subject might be to discuss how to connect with and at least  be conscious of the people in groups 1-3   (and perhaps,  for another day, your strategy or suggestions for those in group 4).

What do you think?

 

Executive Pastor On Large Church Staff

Every situation is different, a little, but there are some advantages to a
strong team joining the lead pastor to form the “office of the executive
pastor” instead of having one person do that.

Definitions
Senior or lead pastor: the leader of staff, the pastor-in-chief, the CEO of the church and staff.

Executive pastor: often the co-leader of staff, the vice-president, the COO of the church and staff.

The board: hopefully they are overseers who care for the boundaries of the church (see“The Soccer Field” papers) and allow the staff to “play on the infield.” They call and review the senior pastor, who leads and reviews (or has a system for this)_ the others on the staff.

They could be listed first here, because the senior pastor reports to them.

Administrative pastor or director of administration: often the leader of the financial and facilities side of the ministries and church.

Associate or senior associate pastors: others who lead ministries and have a segment of the ministries as their responsibility. In a large church each will have assistant pastors and directors of areas of ministry reporting to them.
Three main options for the role and duties of the executive
pastor:

1. Executive or senior associate pastor.

+ It is clear who manages the ministries at the direction of the senior.

+ If this person is loyal to the senior and understands the enabling role, this can work well.

– Sometimes the senior loses touch with staff, by “moving upstairs,” and there is a different mood and direction, sometimes even without the senior’s realization.

– There can be bottleneck at this one person’s desk, and lack of synergy and the creativity and chemistry that can come with a stronger and larger team approach to leadership thinking.

– Sometimes the person who is good at the “executive” role is not built with a “pastor’s heart,” and is just a good manager or executive,  therefore hurting themood and ministry.

2. Three or four associate pastors or senior associates who join with the senior pastor to be the leadership team

+ More staff leaders own the leadership visions and dreams. Closer to “a multitude of counselors.”

+ With four or five on the dream-and-envision-and-assign team, there is more creativity and perspective. This is enhanced when one or more on this leadership team (I simply called ours “ETeam”) are women.

+ The same people who join the senior pastor to dream and envision with him will be the ones to carry it out in their areas of ministry. They will not be one step separated from the development of the goals. All of the reports on staff, even a very large one, come under the responsibilities of the members of this team.

+ One of the members can be the worship pastor, who usually has strong influence on the mood and direction of the church — if that person is more than an artist.

+ One of the members of this team can be a director over finances and facilities, which are always involved in dreams and plans for the church — but only if that administrative leader is not a “bean-counter” who cannot pray and dream well.

+ One of these senior associates or associates can still be the #2 person, and known as such, “first among equals” among the associates. This can help in carrying out plans. (Sometimes this person is called the senior associate pastor and the others the associate pastors. Some of us think the title “executive pastor” can be perceived as more executive

–colder in one way — than pastoral — warmer.)

– There are more than two people to make the meeting and to spend the time.

– There can be negative feelings of others on staff because they are not asked to be on this leadership team.

– There can be more arguments or pushback to the senior because there are more people to do that (though I think this is an advantage, to consider all angles).

– Sometimes there are not three or four other strong leaders-dreamers on the staff (though perhaps this calls for the development of them).

3. Everyone reports to the senior pastor or, in some churches,
to the board.

+ This is the way it should be (reporting to the pastor) when there are one or four or five others on the staff.

+ The leadership plan is clear and simple.

– If there are more than four reporting to the senior pastor, he has too
many reports.

– If any staff other than the pastor reports to the board, count on
confusion and frustration. All staff must report to the leader who is there
with them every day and giving his life and heart to this church in a loving
and careful way.

5 Important Habits of a Healthy Chuch

5     5 Important Habits of a Healthy Church Download

Handout – Traits of a Healthy Church and Acts 20 -Attachment

1. Grace: enjoying what God does for us.

Be able to explain the     “CROSS”                                 Some really can’t.
Put the    CROSS     in all sermons.                                There is time.
Stand as a fellow    strugglers    .                                    Not all right.

2. Worship: exalting God and His Word.

Place the    sermon     as top priority.                            Not maybe.
Differentiate between “God says” and “I think.”         Billy is right.
Plan so emotions have time too.                                     No jump starts.

3. Community: enlisting people in groups.

Proclaim the good of three.
Plan structures for care and growth. Unstructured too.        Don’t just count on it.
Model it!                                                                                        Talk and walk.

4. Mission: emphasizing why we are here.

Write and communicate a    mission     statement.
Philosophy too.     Free     people to carry it out.                     Busy, busy. busy…
Who are these 10%?
Consider 50-50!                                                                             Wow!

5. Integrity: encouraging “    oneness    

Confront own “HEART”     defects    !                                       Top priority.
Nurture and confront other    leaders    .                                  Part of the job

Personal Ministries of the Pastor

Personal Ministries of the Pastor-Download

Personal Ministries of the Pastor-1Principles or procedures so Hebrews 13:17 is true:

1. Senior either does all three or envisions and implements.

2. Main board co-owns vision, gives boundaries, approves policies, supports with prayer and personal embrace.

3. An Executive Pastor or small team leads and manages strategy.

4. Other staff lead in their specialty areas but manage in accord with senior and board leading. If not using same playbook, they must leave the team.

5. Various director or pastors on staff:
Administrative areas—major on “leading” circle, but more management and       administration to be sure.
Age-specific ministries—major on shepherding and teaching in sub-groups.

6. Support staff cares for details and administration with some DNA of leaders.

7. The church follows the biblical call to support leadership and do ministry as the church gathered “out there.”

GROUPS

ABF book coverSunday Adult Bible Fellowships
Home Adult Bible Fellowships

 Sunday and Home Life Groups
Grace Groups
Small Groups
House Churches
and more


 Electives
Entry Groups
Membership Classes

“Belong to a group, you belong to the church.”

Easily an area of confusion and yawning!

Topics 

  1. Experiences of Church
  2. Importance of ABFs/Groups
  3. Not a Sunday School
  4. Organization of an ABF
  5. ABF/Group Leaders Job Descriptions
  6. Kinds of Groups
  7. Reasons for Gatherings
  8. Confusion About Groups Sometimes
  9. The Bible
  10. Pastor/Pastoral Staff and ABFs/Groups
  11. Why Care Should Be by Groups
  12. Sunday Schedules
  13. Schedule of Sunday and Home ABFs/Groups
  14. Principles/Guidelines
  15. Cautions about Changing or Refining
  16. Discussion About ABFs/Groups
  17. Questions About ABFs/Groups
  18. Reality Check Quiz
  19. The Point of Church Activity
  20. R and D Discussion Issues

Continue reading “GROUPS”

Sincere Questions About A Worship Service That May Sound Cynical At Times

PRE-SERVICE

  1. Do the staff and the lead volunteers really understand the purpose and the high importance of the worship assembly-service? Do they attend and participate?
  1. Do greeters and ushers know that the attenders and the guests are to be the object of their attention and not each other?

Continue reading “Sincere Questions About A Worship Service That May Sound Cynical At Times”

PASTORING a “people group” within the church

Guidelines for this “horizontal” responsibility

GENERAL

Pray for and pay attention to people in this age group.

Be the conscience for the leadership team to reach and serve this area.

Assess and sponsor what the church offers to evangelize, disciple,  and care for these people.

PERSONAL

“Go after” and seek to assimilate new people. Continue reading “PASTORING a “people group” within the church”

The Importance of Adult Bible Fellowships -ABFs

Adult Bible Fellowships
Adult Bible Fellowships

The Importance of Adult Bible Fellowships Download

 Adult Bible Fellowships:  Groups of people committed to know and apply the Word together in a caring fellowship, with clear organization to provide care, discipleship, and outreach.

A community within the church . . . to serve and love each other . . . to reach out.

A Sunday adult class geared for true congregational life, where “one another’s” are planned.

Why people need community (and worship services do not give it) Continue reading “The Importance of Adult Bible Fellowships -ABFs”