Calling a Start Up Pastor in `Traditional Church World


Maybe you’re sick of me referring to Kellogg, but I’m a little obsessed after a good week here.  As I continue to ponder shifting church culture so that our congregations might thrive, I came across an article in the Kellogg Magazine (sorry but no article link available) about Andreas Pecher.  He was hired by Zeiss to incubate new ventures within it’s traditional (and very successful) corporate world.

Two things:

  1. In a previous life, I worked the Zeiss projector at the Morehead Planetarium in college.  Yes, I swirled stars.  And yes, maybe I know people who borrowed the Van Gogh painting to “give” as a birthday present once.
  2. We can learn amazing things from Andreas Pecher.

Pecher says, “The key to success is to create a startup-like culture in a corporate setting by attracting entrepreneurially  minded individuals out of the organization and providing them with a protected environment alongside the “normal” organization.”

Yes.  For the love of God.  Yes.

Startup culture is not like traditional culture:

  • Values are lived very  intentionally.  (Sometimes we have mission statements and core values but they are something printed in a handbook, not lived every day in the way we make every decision.)
  • Staffing for the right personalities/attitudes is much more important that staffing for the right skills.  Skills can be taught.  Fit cannot.
  • Evolving is assumed and embraced. Growing means letting go of programs and practices that no longer work.  Trying new things without fear of failure is expected.
  • People will make tremendous sacrifices for an inspiring vision. When we started a church within a church called Holy Grounds (again in a previous life) very busy people made it happen. They had babies at home.  They traveled for work.  They were in grad school while working two jobs.  But they believed HG would change lives for good.

I frankly do not know a single church on the planet that wants a Start Up Pastor to come in and thoroughly change their traditional church.  But I do know churches that might consider – if they could afford an associate pastor – to call someone to join the staff specifically to start new ventures and incubate new ideas within and alongside that congregation’s community.

What would this proposal need to be successful?

  1. The Senior Pastor/Head of Staff would have to be on board, never threatened, never threatening, always ready to back up the Associate Pastor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
  2. Key leaders in the congregation would have to be ambassadors and cheerleaders for the new AP for I&E. Their tasks would include saying and saying again that the new ventures introduced by the new AP would constitute “Real Church.” The new ventures are not “Pretend Church” with the assumption that those participating will eventually come to 11 am worship and join committees.
  3. Traditional leaders would have to commit to praying and spiritually supporting the start ups like their lives depended on it.  Financial support would be essential, both in terms of funding new ventures and coaching the leaders of the new ventures on sustainability.
  4. Co-mentoring would be essential. An attitude of curiosity would be assumed, especially been professional ministers on staff. The established pastor could offer traditional wisdom (“How do you finesse pastoral care with the long term member who sabotages even simple changes?) while the “start up pastor” could offer the latest in cultural updates (“This is why we need HootSuite.”)

Friends, our DNA is in serious need of alteration and we can do this.  For the sake of the gospel, bolstered by The Great Commission, we can do this.  Who wants to be the Pastor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship?  And how can we train our new pastors to do this?

(Note:  Register now for this class.  Image source.)

6 responses to “Calling a Start Up Pastor in `Traditional Church World

  1. I’m thinking about attending this:

    Looks like a great support for this kind of thing.


  2. Was just reading a new HBR article: Bringing an Entrepreneurial Mindset into the World’s Failing Systems. It follows the theme of bringing innovative thinking into traditional structure. One of the innovation models described is a lab – an alliance of unlikely conversation partners charged with creating a new way forward. I’m intrigued by the differences from the incubator and spinout models of entrepreneurship. Sounds more collaborative and multidisciplinary … while being disciplined about its approach. Makes me think of ministry as community collaboration. Oh, the compelling rabbit trails … when one could be sermonizing on a snow day.


  3. Reblogged this on katyandtheword and commented:
    Go, Go, Go


  4. I have thoroughly enjoyed following your insights from Kellogg. I am fascinated by the irony! We live in churches whose operation manuals are straight out of a 1950s corporate playbook. The insights from Kellogg are fascinating. The business world has always been more adept in tune with how to communicate with the world. Why haven’t we listened and adapted sooner? Of course the root of the conflict has always been about being in the world but not of the world.


  5. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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