Churches Faith Builders Email Updates Biz Directory Commerce FaithSite.com
Staff Your Church For Growth - by Gary L. McIntosh

"Observers of growing churches find that the best years of a church's numerical growth are often the first 15 to 20 years of its existence. Stated another way, the fastest growing churches are new churches. To understand this suggested model of staffing, let's walk through the early years of a new church."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Throughout most of church history few churches were large enough to have multiple church staffs. It has only been since the Industrial Age of the mid 1800's that enough people were clustered in cities to produce churches large enough to need multiple staffs.
Even then multiple staffing did not become a well known phenomenon until the 1950's when the growing complexity of the Information Age made it nearly impossible for a single pastor to deal with all the issues and needs of people. As the secular world moved toward specialization and subspecialization, so the church responded with specialization to effectively minister to people's complex needs.

However, a simple observation of the majority of churches with multiple staffs reveals that many are staffed for a decline or numerical plateau rather than for growth. Is there a model of staffing a church which will aid in the growth of churches rather than contributing to their stagnation?

New Church Development

Observers of growing churches find that the best years of a church's numerical growth are often the first 15 to 20 years of its existence. Stated another way, the fastest growing churches are new churches. To understand this suggested model of staffing, let's walk through the early years of a new church.

When a church planting pastor goes into a new area the first responsibility on his desk is to find some new people. This finding of new people is evangelism. Since the new pastor has no people to care for, no program to administer and no worship service to lead, all his energy, prayer and effort is directed toward finding new people. Thus the first priority of the new church is evangelism and is illustrated below.


Find
New
People

Once the new pastor begins to reach people a second responsibility is placed on his desk. He must now try to keep as many of the new people as possible. Church growth writers refer to this keeping of new people as assimilation. Now the new pastor has two priorities to occupy his time, energy and thought. He must continue to reach out and find new people while trying to keep as many as possible. Thus the priorities on his desk now look like this:


Find
New
People Keep
New
People

At this point a third priority is placed on the pastor's desk. The pastor must now begin to coordinate a worship service, prepare and deliver a message. The priorities on his desk begin to look like the following.


Find
New
People Keep
New
People Celebrate
With
People

What began as a simple task - to find new people - now has grown to include a fourth priority. The pastor must begin to train these new people. In most churches this new priority is referred to as Christian education. This priority includes the establishment of age graded ministries, teacher training and committees. His responsibilities begin to look like this:


Find
New
People Keep
New
People Celebrate
With
People Educate
The
People

As you can see, the number of responsibilities on the pastor's desk has increased significantly. Hopefully some of the people have been trained to take over a few of these responsibilities. But another responsibility is now added to these first four. By this point in the life-cycle of a new church several ministries have been started. These all cry out for oversight and the pastor finds that he is being stretched by the demands of all the responsibilities he finds on his desk each morning. His desk now looks like this:


Find
New
People Keep
New
People Celebrate
With
People Educate
The
People Oversee
The
People

The pastor of our fictitious new church has much to keep him busy but there's still one more responsibility that is placed on his desk. He now must care for the people that are part of the new church. When he first began planting this church there were no people so there were no hospital calls to be made, no counseling to be done and no weddings or funerals to conduct. But now there are many needs and the people push their concerns, calls and visits upon him in greater numbers each week. At last the pastors desk looks like the following.


Find
New
People Keep
New
People Celebrate
With
People Educate
The
People Oversee
The
People Care
For
People

It is certain that a new church plant doesn't take place in quite this linear of a line. Even so, this model is instructive as it provides an understanding of why churches begin to plateau and decline in later years as well as insight into how a church might be staffed to keep it growing.

Why does a new church grow in its early years but begin to plateau and decline in its later years? While there are several intersecting factors that we could point to, a major reason is the shift in priorities over the years. For example, in the early years of a new church the priority is on the left side of the continuum. While in the later year the priority shifts to the right side.

Priority in early years

Find
New
People Keep
New
People Celebrate
With
People Educate
The
People Oversee
The
People Care
For
People

Priority in later years

Find New People

Keep New People

Celebrate With People

Educate The People

Oversee The People

Care For People

As the years go by the church moves into a maintenance mode of taking care of what they have (people, programs, facilities) and abandoning the priorities that got them there (finding, keeping and worshiping).

Insights for Staffing

This church planting model gives us several insights into staffing a church for growth.

Insight #1: It teaches us that as a church grows the responsibilities on the solo pastor's desk become complex and numerous. A church with a solo pastor will stop growing when it reaches the limit of the pastor's ability to give adequate emphasis and time to all these priorities.

Insight #2: In the life-cycle of most churches the growing numbers of people already in the church will demand programs and care that will meet their personal needs. Pressure to provide for the people already in the church will cause a distribution of money, time, energy and leadership to the right side of the continuum to the neglect of the left.

Insight #3: The tendency of most churches will be to hire staff who serve functions on the right side of the continuum. Ultimately staffing the right side of the continuum leads to an ingrown church taking care of its own but neglecting the finding and keeping of newer people.

Insight #4: A church that wants to grow will have a priority to staff positions on the left side of the continuum. Staff who help find new people (evangelism), keep new people (assimilation) and worship (celebration) will focus on the priorities that result in continued growth.

Insight #5: A senior pastor must understand his own strengths. If he is strong in areas on the right side of the continuum he should seek to hire an associate who has strengths on the left side. If the senior pastor has strengths on the left, he might hire an associate who has strengths on the right so that he is freed to give his time to the priorities on the left.

Insight #6: All of the six priorities are necessary to provide a supportive environment for church growth. A church that seeks continued growth will not neglect any of these priorities.

Insight #7: A growing church will place a higher emphasis on the priorities on the left rather than those on the right. People in the church will adopt a servant attitude which sees and responds to the needs of those outside the church over those already inside.

Summary

(This article was original printed in Church Growth Journal of the North American Society for Church Growth, 2(1991): 63 - 69. The next two paragraphs were in the original.)


Think for a moment how most churches add staff. The second staff person is usually a Youth pastor. Adding a youth pastor is a response in many cases to the demands of parents. Parents are rightfully concerned about their own children and desire a youth pastor who will take care of their young people. To be ruthlessly honest, hiring a youth pastor is often more pastoral care of the adults of the youth. This obviously is staffing on the right side of the continuum. The youth pastor is hired to care for the adult's concern for their own children. While this is not necessarily wrong, it does not place a priority on the side of the continuum which creates church growth.
After a youth pastor, the third staff person hired is often a Christian education pastor or senior's pastor. Staffing these two positions, will take some responsibilities off the pastor's desk, but again it is staffing on the right of the continuum rather than the left. Even when a church gets larger, and a fourth position is added, it is often an administrative position which is filled to cover the growing complexity of people, programs and budgets. Again, this is staffing on the right rather than the left.

What is the best way to staff a church so that it grows? The answer is to staff a church from the left to the right side of the continuum.

While there are numerous questions which remain to be discussed, it is hoped that this church planting model for staffing will provide a new paradigm by which to view this important area of church growth.


1 Gary L. McIntosh is Director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Talbot School ot Theology at Biola University. McIntosh also publshes a monthly Newletter -- The McIntosh Church Growth Network Newsletter. This article was published on his web site McIntosh Church Growth Network in Chapter 34 of the Answer Book.







Search FaithSite.com

Sep 2014
S M T W R F S
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        

Top Sites
Churches
Park Avenue Church of Christ
Wooddale Church of Christ
Brentwood Hills Church of Christ
Mercy Street Church of Christ
St. Oswald's Scottish Episcopal Church, Glasgow
The Church of Christ, Kuala Lumpur
Hilldale Church of Christ
Crossroad Community Church
Concord Road Church of Christ
10 Ben Franklin Church
 
FaithBuilders
FaithSite.com
West Monroe High School
rodscalvarywebsite.com
Joliet Catholic Football
Churches of Christ Online

Prayer List
Site-specific content Copyright (c) 2000 FaithSite.com or Used by Permission
All other content Copyright (c) 2000 FaithSites, Inc. All rights reserved.
Use of this site is subject to Terms of Service and to our Privacy Policy.


If you are offended by anything on this page, click here.