Leadership Activities – Part II

OK – I promised that I would give some how-to on leadership activities.

1) Cast Vision or Mission (at some level) for the future activities

Vision or mission can start with one person, but often things seem so obvious to that person (who had or received the vision) that it takes other leaders questioning how things work or how things happen to really flesh it out. When you share your vision, you want it to be a relatively complete and comprehensible story. Collaborating with other leaders is a great way to get feedback.

Not suggesting that the vision itself should change, but we need to become better at communication. The communicator is responsible for the content. If you send but nobody receives – that is not communication – that is broadcasting. If you are speaking English but your audience is Spanish speakers – is that going to work? How about if you are speaking martian? Or theological jargon?

Preachers can spend years in seminary developing their ability to communicate biblical truth. Yet when communicating about other things, they don’t practice with the same level or they delegate to other leaders. Leaders should collaborate around the content and communication of vision so that
a) all (leaders) are invested in the vision (there is unity).
b) the communication to the larger community is well thought out and aimed at the target audience.
c) all are able to answer questions and explain the meaning of the vision from the perspective of their role. Continue reading “Leadership Activities – Part II”

Church as Ministry Platform

A few years ago, my senior pastor asked me what I looked for in a church. At the time, I had been attending and a member of that congregation for about 15 years, and I really hadn’t thought about it before.

The answer I blurted out was “a platform for ministry”. To this date, I do not know what pastor thought about my answer. He asked me what I meant, and I shared (see below) and about the only response I got was “Hmmm”. I however, have continued to value the church as a platform for ministry, and I think that many mature believers instinctively look for something similar. Continue reading “Church as Ministry Platform”

Ministry Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are a necessary evil – or at least that is the way many view them.

The thing is, that most ministry or church leaders are not managers. Seminary does not focus on this aspect of ministry leadership. Hiring ministry leaders is not a frequent activity, and most churches go through a calling process that is dramatically different than most executive searches. So what about a job description.

Here is my take on ministry job descriptions – especially as pertain to calling a pastor, or hiring a ministry leader:

What you expect a ministry leader to DO is what belongs in a job description. So start with a list of activities. What activities do we expect the individual to participate in, and what is their role relative to that activity. Continue reading “Ministry Job Descriptions”

Difficult Staffing Decisions

At times it is necessary make difficult decisions related to staff positions or staff members. In minstries it is especially difficult to terminate a staff member. Ministry leaders are not usually professional managers, most ministries do not have HR policies that govern these things, and so these things can become quite personal. Ministry is not “business”, so the “strictly business” flavor of separation is not really appropriate. Continue reading “Difficult Staffing Decisions”

Leadership Sourcing

Recently I read this post by @outreachninja Bob Franquiz. He describes what he calls a “frankenstein church”. In his description what he is referring to is a church that brings in leadership from the outside, rather than raising leadership from within. I know that Bob is trying to be provocative, and to generate interest in his free webinar. I know that his heart is for the family of God, and the Mission of the Body of Christ.

While I usually agree with Bob in his writings, this one, kinda rubbed me the wrong way. Mostly, I struggled with it because it was not a thoughtful discussion of the benefits of building a leadership pipeline (very true), or even a thoughtful discussion of some of the bad things that can happen when new leaders from the outside that are not invested in the methods and mission pre-existing in the church (also fairly common).

The post was written in a way that suggests that the only good way to grow leadership was from within, and failing to do this always causes a resulting ugliness in a ministry that is easy to see.

So I want to add some balance to Bob’s post by talking about some benefits and drawbacks of both leadership development plans. As I do this, I want to suggest that there is a balance and there are decisions to be made about any leadership role. LIke most things there is no one right answer for every situation.

Develop leadership from within the ministry

  • is a natural outgrowth of a spiritual formation process.
  • provides mature believers challenges for their faith that causes continued growth.
  • produces leaders who are already familiar with programs, theology, doctrine, policy.
  • produces leader that are generally accountable to the remainder of the leadership hierarchy or group.


  • produces leaders that tend to be emotionally invested in status quo.
  • leaders tend to replicate themselves, so you end up with less diversity in the leadership pool.
  • requires a bootstrapping period while the first batch are being equipped.’
  • depending on the body, may not produce the broad range of talents and gifts necessary to support ministry plans

Engage leadership from outside the ministry

  • can bring in talents and gifts that are currently lacking in the body.
  • requires hiring period, but less bootstrapping so can be enacted more quickly


  • can bring in personalities and opinions that are divisive
  • can bring in leaders who are not ready to be accountable
  • can bring in leaders who are not familiar with programs etc., who can unknowingly harm existing programs.

I think that Bob in his article is focusing on these three drawbacks. He doesn’t exactly spell this out, but that is what I smell. The fact is regardless of how you “acquire” leadership, you need to have a good way to onboard leaders so that they know what is expected, and to ensure that divisions or factions don’t form. You also need to guard against stagnation and inertia within the leadership community so that a resistance to change does not develop. You should ensure that ministry plans are aligned with leadership acquisition and development timelines.

Check out these ther ministry staffing and leadership posts:


[Spew #3] Steve Jobs and Staffing; Conversations; Leader Advice

How to Change the World: What I Learned From Steve Jobs

The passing of Steve Jobs has created a flurry of articles and blog posts advocating his sainthood or demonizing him or just remembering stuff he said.  There are two pieces of advice that you can take away from ministry staffing – Avoid the bozo explosion and Hire people who can tell you what to do, rather than hiring people you have to tell what to do.  They are related.

Seth’s Blog: Open conversations (or close them)

How you ask and answer questions can change the conversation dratically.  In ministry do we ever really want to close a conversation?  Really? 

7 Random Pieces of Advice for the Younger Leader | Ron Edmondson

Truth: this is not just for young leaders…

Ministry Staffing Model

It is very common to organize ministry programs to align with demographic groups. Men’s ministry, Women’s ministry, Youth Ministry, Single’s ministry, etc. I believe that the theory behind this is that demographics drive similar ministry needs, similar interests. I think that often, the alignment of common emotional, physical or spiritual needs among demographic groups is a compelling argument to align ministries this way.

I submit that there are actually two types of demographically aligned ministries:


  • Internally Staffed – Ministries that (primarily) recruit volunteers from within the demographic group being targeted.
  • Externally Staffed – Ministries that (primarily) recruit volunteers from outside the demographic group being targeted.

I think that this is interesting only because internally staffed ministry programs can become self-sustaining if they are multi-faceted. Self-sustaining programs not only provide opportunities for outreach, but also grow ministry participants sufficiently for them to become volunteers, and eventually equip them to become leaders. In my opinion, a program is not self-sustaining because this happens organically, but only when it happens intentionally.

Externally staffed ministries must rely on some external function, organization, or entity to grow a pool of participants from which volunteers can be recruited, and likely to grow a pool of leaders to replenish the team when burnout or transitions occurr.

As a ministry leader, understanding where your volunteers are going to come from is very important. When designing ministry programs, the staffing model is perhaps the most important indicator of sustainability.

Vocational ministers and church leaders need to pay attention to their portfolio of ministry programs to manage the supply and demand of ministry volunteers, and manage the growing of new volunteers to supply the needs of externally staffed programs. This is especially true for demographics that cannot minister to themselves – Children, elderly, special needs. For other demographics, those within the demographic community are perhaps best suited to serve within the community.

Ministry Staffing Decisions

So how does a ministry (church) decide which ministry leadership positions should be paid and which should be volunteer? What criteria should we apply to this decision? How do we decide which leadership positions require what gifts and talents? How do your paid staff positions align with ministry programs?

Let’s talk about the problems first:


  • Ministry program lead by volunteers only not self-sustaining. Leader burns out and ministry falls over.
  • Ministry program no longer producing fruit, but with one or more paid leadership staff. RIFing ministers stinks. Congregation splits or divides.
  • Congregation has reduced size and/or budget, but not paid staff. Staff salaries are preventing investment in fruitful ministry.
  • Program leadership transitions, and new leader is gifted differently than prior leaders. Some aspects of ministry suffer.

I have watched in churches as ministries founded by non-paid staff evaporate when the leader who had the original vision burns out, or moves away. I have also watched as the paid leader of a ministry program retires, and the replacement is differently gifted, and rather than taking the ministry in a new direction, tries to keep the vision the same as the prior leader. I have seen churches that invest in staffing specific ministry programs, and seen that the programs take the shape of the leaders giftedness. I have also seen churches that invest in giftedness, by hiring pastors who complement each other, but are not directly accountable for ministry programs. With no way for their gifts to bleed into the ministry programs, the hiring strategy comes up empty, as the program leaders are different.

All ministry programs need certain gifts:


  • Evangelism – the ability to relate the gospel message of hope and salvation to those without hope and who don’t understand their need for salvation.
  • Teaching – the ability to communicate the truth of God’s word, with a view towards application in the life of the believer.
  • Administration – the ability to plan activities, coordinate resources, measure fruit, build systems that allow others to focus on expressing their gifts.
  • Works or Helps – the ability to do any physical or menial work required to keep the ministry happening with joy and love.
  • Hospitality – the ability to make people feel welcome and loved and cared for.

None of these gifts alone are sufficient to run a ministry program. Every ministry program requires each of them in certain portions, and when they are missing, it can show in the fruit.

So how are your ministry programs equipped with these gifts through leadership? In a small paid staff organization, you need to rely on volunteer leadership, but paid staff can be used to “speak” some of these gifts into the programs. This can be done by having paid staff (pastors, especially) participate directly in mentoring relationships with volunteer program leaders. This can also be done, by having paid staff “equip” through regular seminars that help volunteer program leaders grow in understanding in areas of weakness. Even smaller organizations can have gifted volunteers “equip” each other, or participate in denominational or other equipping events.