Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Staff to ____"

The gathering of the church I work/live for/with has recently emerged from the long tunnel of a 1-3 year transition in it's organizational structure. A few key ministry leaders have departed over these past few years and the drift has been toward a team model of leadership. It is amazing that our congregations have stuck with each other despite our lack of a "Senior Pastor" even though it is an honest stretch for some and an absolute absurdity to others.

As this team approach continues to shape itself we are beginning to realize that our gifts aren't always as specifc as we thought they were - the overlap between "job descriptions" is extremly large, and at the end of the day they all change every few months anyway. The fact that such cross-pollination occurs is quite naturally observed as cohesion of thought, vision and purpose amongst the leadership and it has been amazing to note the postitive influence this has upon building trust between the pastorate and the congregations.

But there are more than a few questions yet to be answered now that we're out of "let's make it through this" mode.

Perhaps the two most challenging questions could be our commitment to re-examine our theologies of "financing" and "staffing." The "financing" end of it all is about to get an injection of concentrated thought and consideration which will hopefully be archived over on this group blog. The "staff" part of it has yet to really hit its stride. So, in trying to keep ahead of things: here's a few thoughts for the mix when it comes to staffing:

"Staff to Grow" vs "Staff to Shrink" vs "Staff to Nurture" vs "Staff to Question" - which is the healthiest framework for LPC/thePlace right now? Are there other formulations to work within? Can we staff to "grow" and "shrink" at the same time? If we simply tend to what is before us (nurture) can we live with the faith the Lord will take care of the rest?

And how messy and confusing is the word "staff" really? There's got to be a better word...or three...


don said...

hey, hey ... blogging from frozen Ontario while the little snow Mt Washington got here is washed away by the rain ( 10 mm yesterday! ). Over at Saturday's post on www.lambrick.com I was wondering about some of the same opportunities/issues/challenges/re-thinks we are facing. Lambrick Church is turning 40 in 2006. I came across this from Lyle Schaller, probably THEE most respected church consultant in North America.

Schaller writes "while exceptions do exist, the general pattern is that congregations that have been meeting at the same address for more than forty years tend to give a higher priority to (a) perpetuating the past rather than creating the new, (b) taking care of today's members rather than seeking to reach the unchurched, (c) maintaining the real estate rather than launching new ministries to reach new generations." He concludes: "Never before in North American church history have there been so many congregations that are vulnerable to this 'forty year syndrome.' Research indicates that 75% of all NA congregations are at least forty years old. Daunting challenges await those who commit to keeping long-established churches from declining from health."

That certainly factors in to how to "staff" or lead into the future. James is right, this is such a multi-facetted discussion ( at Lambrick alone! ) that some days I get a brain cramp thinking about it. Our tendency is to grow: develop new stuff, invite people to join the team, see the shelf life/expiration date on a ministry before most people do. But I also hear/feel the tension from people looking for point b) above. We're walking a fine line here, as are most local churches I assume. Maybe we get even more intentional about 'developing leaders at all levels, volunteer or paid, fairly public profile or behind-the-scenes, nurturing existing important ministries and cooking up new and responsive Spirit led ventures'? Yah, that's it ... both/and not either/or.


James Kingsley said...

yeah, I saw that post on LPC's site. Nice work. I'm excited about the reflection toward the future that 40 yrs of history seems to be ushering in.

and i second your motion to make "bothand" an actual word...