After 14yrs working with volunteer musicians and leaders, I’m questioning a common mindset I see in church staff leadership, and in myself: Managerial leadership.

First off, let me clarify that I do believe management is important. Everything with structure requires management. But…

Pastors Are Not Managers

When pastors become managers, people become a means to an end. If I need you to do something in order for my ministry to work, I can’t be generous toward you. I can’t fully love you if you have the power to destroy me. I need. So I can’t give.

What if we were to specifically hire a manager when we identified a need for a manager? What if we were to somehow take the responsibility of executing processes off of our pastoral staff? What if we were to teach our staff and volunteer leadership how to differentiate between leading managerially and pastorally?

Some Things Are Not Meant To Be Managed

Believe it or not, people aren’t coming to your church in order to add one more talley to your attendance sheet. They don’t care how many sites your multisite church has (they can only be a part of one). And they shouldn’t care. They’re hurting, lonely, broken. They want community with other broken people. You may have a great kid program or great music, and that is very important (especially great music, right!?), but ultimately if that’s what keeps them at your church their experience with church and God will be incomplete. And if they start to feel like you’re more concerned with making them a productive citizen of your organization, they’ll eventually find the community they were originally searching for somewhere else - somewhere simpler.

What if instead of volunteer pushes, we conducted periodic aggressive program and process demolitions? What if we let volunteers determine what’s important to do and not do, based on their needs, passions, and availability?

Pastors Are Helpers, People Will Manage

Is our job to make things happen? Or is it to equip God’s Church (the people)? What is more affective? (1) A church with 20 pastors who manage 2000 people who maintain the church’s programs or (2) a church with 20 pastors who help 2000 people discern God’s unique vision for their lives and help them find the courage to become who God made them to be, and teach them how to build programs around their passions when appropriate?

What if pastors were program and process killers (the way a shepherd kills a wolf looking to eat one of his sheep) and only the items which volunteers wouldn’t let die and were excited to manage were the ones which survived?

That would free up some time. I wonder what we’d spend it doing?

Church Staff As Helpers, Not Managers