Years ago, I read several books telling me that Pastors Should Not Be Managers. Managers make the trains (or liturgies) run on time. Managers solve problems. Managers direct. Managers address needs. Managers are reactive. Managers placate. Managers in churches are – if a congregation can afford it – are also called Church Administrators.
The 21st Century Church is craving leaders.
In small congregations, when the Pastor is Administrator, Secretary, Custodian, Christian Educator, Youth Director, Web Master, Music Leader, Volunteer Coordinator, Therapist, and . . . Pastor, being a Leader either 1) doesn’t happen or 2) happens at the expense of the website being updated or the confirmation class getting permission slips, or the piano being tuned.
A classic HBR article explains it all here.
It’s a serious question: What do we do when a congregation of 20-50 people seeks to be the church in these days?
If they are both well-heeled and committed, a congregation of 20-50 members can – perhaps – afford a full-time pastor. But chances are they cannot also afford a FT or PT anything else. And nobody doing Everything has the time to also be the Vision Caster or the Global Ponderer or the Equipper of Managers. And so we have many smaller congregations (in the PCUSA in 2010, 3,001 churches had less than 50 members) that are floundering because the pastor either:
- Is okay with being a manager, but nobody’s looking into the future and the church will probably close when the pastor retires.
- Is wanting to Look To The Future but the church has a culture of the pastor managing everything and so she/he is The Frustrated Leader.
- Is wanting to Look to The Future but the church has a culture of the pastor managing everything and so she/he is Casting a Vision and nobody can find the pencils.
I was blessed to meet some excellent Small Church Leaders recently and here’s how ministry happens well: The Leader has the skills to teach members to manage the ministry. And those members truly want to do ministry. They do not wear figurative bibs expecting the pastor to feed them bite by bite. They want to make guests feel welcomed. They want strangers to find schedules and directions. They want the sick to be fed and the lonely to be visited. They want walls painted and floors vacuumed so that the atmosphere is fresh and clean.
We have too many congregations led by Pastor Managers rather than Pastor Leaders. Smaller congregations can thrive in the 21st Century only if members want to thrive. Only if Pastors are allowed to ask questions and point to the future. So, here’s my question:
What’s the best way to teach this to our churches? (It’s a real question.)