encourage the exploration of scripture
Last week I proposed the following organizational shift:
FROM: Executive Pastor reports to the Senior Pastor
TO: Teaching Pastor reports to the Lead Pastor
In Seminary, I was convincingly shown that all three basic church polities (congregational, presbyterian, and episcopal) can all be illustrated with New Testament examples and neither is taught explicitly. As an ordained congregational pastor, leading in an episcopal church, after serving in multiple presbyterian churches... this still makes sense to me. Description versus prescription. So I’m not arguing that scripture proscribes this org chart model for all churches. But doesn’t scripture speak timeless wisdom into our church leadership decisions?
I’ll focus on the main analogy and theological argument. Simply, that teaching and leading are two different spiritual gifts. Scripture describes the church as a body where each part has a role to play (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12) in the health and growth of the whole. In small group ministry, it is imperative to communicate to potential leaders that they are not expected to be teachers, but leaders. This typically encourages some and discourages others. Conversely, many leaders who excel as church board members should not be teaching Sunday School classes.
Of course, spiritual gifting is not an all or nothing proposition and it does seem that some teaching is expected of some leaders (e.g. 1 Timothy 3:2) and some leadership is expected of some teachers (e.g. 1 Timothy 5:17). Yet for those Senior Pastors who teach effectively but struggle with the regular rhythms and responsibilities of staff management, an obvious alternative seems available: Step out of the CEO role and into a role more closely aligned with the spiritual gift of teaching. This alternative may be joy-giving, ministry-extending, and provide a healthier distribution of spiritual gifts for your church.
It can be risky and frightening to give up control. But for some Senior Pastors, the alternative is to maintain authority while abdicating responsibility, assigning to the Executive Pastor the unenviable expectations of responsibility without authority.
More can be said, but let me close this series with two sports illustrations:
This shift is unrelated to compensation. Head Coach Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics would be their 8th highest paid player. Teaching is often a catalytic difference between church growth and decline and it makes sense for a church to prayerfully find the best teacher to match its mission and resources (1 Timothy 5:17-18).
Finally, there is a lazy leadership selection tradition in sports which shows up in pee-wees and in the pros: the best player is selected by the coach to be the team’s captain. It’s the easy choice, and better than selecting randomly due to the natural influence of a star performer. But perhaps coaches would be better served by having the third-string fullback exhort and encourage his peers, organize warm-ups, and hold each player accountable for team success.
- Dan Dzikowicz
What pros and cons do you see in such an organizational shift?