Pastoral Team Chemistry: 10 Elements that have shaped our pastoral staff.

I randomly blog to pastors.  There’s usually no agenda driving it but a passion to do what so many pastors have done for me: give me help and encouragement by sharing what they’re doing.

Over the past 6-7 months, several pastors have requested I blog on a specific subject.  Last week, it came up again.

“What does your leadership team chemistry look like? How do you hire?”

What we have here at Kfirst, is by no means perfect, but it is a team.

I’m very passionate about them and I don’t tell them enough how much I love and appreciate their hard work and sacrifice.  They love Jesus and they’re passionate about seeing people touched by the presence of God.  Every action they have is centered around making it simple for people to find and follow Jesus.  I love them so much.

Each one has their own quirks.  We all have good days and bad days. If someone steps out of line in a staff meeting, someone close to the whiteboard will write their name and put a “check” next to it (yep…just like elementary school) as a way of lightening up the meeting. We’ll yell, laugh, and challenge each other.

I’ve learned quite a bit in the past 6 1/2 years.  So I thought I’d give you some elements I used to build our pastoral team.

1 – I work through networks. If you don’t have any ministry friends/relationships, you’re already behind. The Church exists in community. You expect your congregation to operate in community. You should live that. When I need a staff member, I don’t hit websites; I call up friends. Make phone calls. Get coffee. Use social media.  Get some friendships and network.

2 – Unity reigns. Two thoughts: First, sticking with staff just because you inherited them is not healthy.  As I experienced here, inherited staff is an opportunity to grow. Thus you need a season of time to see if you gel together. If you gel…great (I got a great one). If not…that’s fine too. Transitions don’t mean someone was wrong. Sometimes it means it wasn’t a fit, and that’s okay. But sticking with a dis-unified staff just because you’re afraid of transition isn’t healthy for you, your team, or the congregation. 

Secondly, I hire based upon unity and team fit instead of resumé. The final part of my interview process is to bring the candidates in front of the staff for questions and interaction. I’m not really looking for great answers.  I’m looking for “team.” Just because someone is qualified for a position, doesn’t mean they fit on the team. I would gladly sacrifice talent (which I haven’t had to do) for a fit. Psalms 133: Where there’s unity, God commands his blessing. 

3 – It’s not about age, it’s about the peace.  A younger team has its perks as does a veteran team.   But hiring based upon a person’s vintage (or lack thereof) isn’t going to equate to growing a vibrant, relevant church.  If you have a congregation who doesn’t like change, they’re going to complain whether the leadership team member is their age or not. The team is all about the vision and the fit. If you don’t have the peace in hiring the person, don’t do it. The presence of Christ brings the presence of peace.  Don’t embrace age over peace…in fact, don’t embrace anything over the peace that Christ gives. If the peace is only 90% there, then complete peace isn’t there. Follow the complete peace

4 – We keep a heart not a clock. I hire hard workers. They recognize that ministry is beyond 9-5. They put in the hours needed to do ministry beyond the “work day” while maintaining a balanced family life.  The time they put in AND the heart they wield accomplishes more than strict office hours can contain.  

5 – I don’t hire “me.” A staff of other “Davids” doesn’t do me or the church any good.  Leadership teams need all sorts of personalities, backgrounds, and viewpoints. Different means good. Hire staff that has a tough hide, a tender heart, and can be strong in who God made them to be.  If not, the congregation and/or staff will eat them alive.

6 – Communication is key. We do weekly staff meetings. Asana helps keep us organized and together on projects. I make sure my door is always open to the staff and their spouses. Not only is my door open to staff, their door is open to each other. If someone is offended by another, I don’t need to be referee and have to step in. I’ll see him/her walk into the other team member’s office to make things right. If someone from the congregation is offended with a staff member, I direct them to communicate that to that specific staff member (Matthew 18) instead of me. Again, we value the element of unity in our staff and in our church and healthy communication fosters it.

7 – No “yes men” (or “yes women) allowed. As much as I think my ideas are great, a great team knows how to have great discussion and even debate. The key is the humble attitude and teachable heart. Ideas are sought. Healthy disagreements are welcomed. All voices matter (including spouses).

8 – Coffee matters…meals matter. Talking over coffee (good coffee) instead of talking over a desk brings a relational element to the team.  To me, relationship is everything with staff. That’s why breaking bread is a part of our weekly staff meeting.  Jesus did a lot of ministry at a table. Why shouldn’t we?  I believe longevity is connected to relationship. Perhaps less of our staff pastors would want to leave if they felt connect to their Lead Pastor.

9 – Family is priority.  I expect my staff to have family time.  I have no issue voicing concern if their schedule is getting out of whack.  I expect them to take their spouse on dates. And if I expect that, I need to help.  Anne and I will gladly watch the PKs while their parents have a night out.  They need to take us up on that more often. Our PKs are stinkin’ fun and hilarious. 

10 – Evolution is expected. We shouldn’t remain the same.  Personal growth creates team growth.  Our staff has different tastes in the books we read and those differences help create well-rounded views.  We love to look at other churches (inside and outside our denomination) and engage in conversations with other pastors.  We to know what the Holy Spirit is doing in other churches and let that challenge us. 

Again, we are not perfect in the least.  We may make mistakes individually and collectively, but I have their backs.  You can misunderstand our methods, but you cannot mistake our hearts. Our goal is to see the Kingdom accomplished and we love doing that together.  

This is who we are.  This is part of how God is growing us. And I can’t wait to see what God has next for us. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

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