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…

Israel Trip Prep Videos


To those on the normal blog emails, I apologize for you getting something you may not be connect to.  This blog is the video from our Israel Trip team meeting that has been broken up into segments.  I’d advise to watch and rewatch to continue to familiarize yourself with our trip. 

Also, if you’ve lost your packet from the meeting on August 26 or have not received one, you can download it here from this link

Here’s the video from our opening meeting split up by segments: 

Segment 1 – Introduction

Segment 2 – Introduce the Old City

Segment 3 – Gates

Segment 4 – Geography

Segment 5 – Why is Jerusalem here?

Segment 6 – Places we will visit

Segment 7 – Holy Week (Book of Mark) till Thursday

Segment 8 – Maundy Thursday till Tomb

Segment 9  – Closing Thoughts

This is going to be a life-changing trip!  I’m so glad I can experience it with you. 


How to pray for your pastor: 5 lessons my intercessor team taught me

One of the greatest decisions I ever made as a new Lead Pastor was for an intercessory team. I saw it as a priority my mentor (props to Joel Stocker) and it was one of the first things Anne said we needed to establish when we got to Kalamazoo.  Very early in our tenor here, I knew I needed to connect with our senior adults AND I needed intercessors.  Why shouldn’t these amazing veterans of faith be our Aaron and Hur? Who better to share our burdens than those who carry so much depth of prayer and experience than them?

We meet every first Thursday of the month.  Yes, the team does pray over us, but the time is primarily the launching point for praying over us for the month. The hour has very little to do with any needs of the greater church community but everything to do with me, my marriage/family, and the ministry we are a part of.  We have one rule: What happens at Pastor’s Prayer, stays at Pastor’s Prayer.  That means no one talks about the contents of our prayer time with anyone in the congregation outside of our hour. They take that rule seriously which boosts my trust and confidence in them.

Over the past six years of meeting with them (I call them Pastor’s Prayer team), they have taught me a few things about how people should pray for their pastor.  This isn’t a brag-fest of anything I am doing.  These are the lessons my senior adult intercessors have taught me:

1 – Keep YOU out of it. I can’t pinpoint a time where I’ve heard them pray from a selfish perspective.  “Lord give Pastor Dave revelation to feed us on Sundays” or “Give Pastor Dave and Anne wisdom/direction/insight so we can have better __________ here at the church.” Don’t pray with consumeristic words focused on your pastor receiving something from God ONLY so you and/or the congregation can get something from him/her.  Remove what YOU want see happen at the church and speak ONLY the will, vision, and direction of the Holy Spirit in his/her life.

2 – Walk in gratitude.  I can’t say I always “feel” very successful.  I have seasons where I’m frustrated with myself and wonder why in the world Kfirst hired me. My prayer team will never full grasp how their prayers have encouraged me in some very dark moments.  If I can be blunt, there are times I feel like a “tool” and their prayers laced with gratitude made me feel like a “gift.” Gratitude will do two things as you pray over your pastor.  First, it helps your heart to be humble in prayer. Thanksgiving demands humility and it’s the way to enter God’s presence. Second, it will move you to a place of being an encourager. Silent gratitude is not gratitude at all. The Lord will drop things in your heart that you need to speak to your pastor to encourage him/her.  Remember: Gratitude gives us altitude over our attitudes.

3 – Speak scripture over your pastor.  I think it’s a powerful and safe way to pray. You know it’s powerful (because it’s God’s Word), and it’s going to be His will (again,because it’s His Word). When you speak over someone/something you are blessing and edifying.  Biblically, you’re commissioning and calling out destiny. I marvel how awesome and faithful the Lord is.  I can’t count the amount of times, during our monthly prayer, where someone has felt led to pray scripture over us and the Word that was read hit us with sniper accuracy.  Get out your bible and use it to pray over your pastor.

4 – Respond to the Holy Spirit.  So often, members of the team has pulled me aside or emailed me to let me know that the Holy Spirit spoke to them pray over us.  I love that they are always ready to respond whenever the Holy Spirit gives them a nudging regardless of time of day. Don’t relegate praying for your pastor to a moment (or ANYONE for that matter).  Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life and willing to respond when He prompts you to pray.

5 – Send encouragement to your pastor.  Pastors can be lightning rods to a lot of crap going on that may or may not be his/her fault.  That’s not to manipulate anyone in to feeling bad for pastors.  It’s the nature of the position.  Unfortunately, more than a few times, I’ve heard people, literally say of me and/or their pastor, “I was going to send a note of encouragement but you/they probably get those all the time and I don’t want you/them to get a big head.” (SMH) A very common comment that appears in letters, cards, emails, etc. from my prayer team is, “I was praying for you and the Lord wanted to me to send you this note of encouragement.” Edification is born out of intercession. Don’t send a note of flattery.  Flattery is manipulation.  Encourage, build-up, and strengthen your pastor.


If you’re looking for specifics, here’s a simple list of things to pray for your pastor when the Holy Spirit brings him/her to mind.

Pray for…

  1. …his/her marriage and family.
  2. …rest.
  3. …his/her passion for Jesus.
  4. …a fresh move of the Holy Spirit in his/her life.
  5. …wisdom.
  6. …protection.
  7. …to be driven by conviction of the Holy Spirit and not the criticism of people.
  8. …creativity
  9. …fun for him/her (pastor’s need leisure too).
  10. …health.

This is what my prayer team has taught me.  These are the amazing lessons I’ve learned that has prompted me to pray deeper and more consistently for my pastoral team, my district leadership, as well as other pastors.  As they have challenged me, so I challenge you.

Don’t stand behind your pastor. Stand with them.  Hold  them up in prayer.

Thanks for letting me ramble…