Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pastor, Deacon, and....Executive Directors?

Our congregation is currently praying through God's leading regarding a second pastor.  We are not even getting applications quite yet as we are still in the stage of looking at what roles need to be filled.  As part of my research, I came across an article which contained the following statement:
In my mind even smaller congregations, who believe they’ve reached the point of adding a second pastor to the staff, really ought to think about multiplying the ministry of their current pastor and bringing on an executive director. This role can free up the pastor from all the things that pastors aren’t normally trained for and often times aren’t equipped to do well. The executive director executes the operation of the business of the church so that the pastor can be free to do the pastoral ministry.
I'm not opposed to individuals who serve in the church in the area of administration.  We have a full time secretary who handles many of these duties. But the troubling thing about that quote is how easily the American church invents biblical leadership 'offices'.  Sadly, but perhaps typically, the article from which this quote is gleaned doesn't contain a single bible reference.  

The New Testament already has a plan in place for individuals to come alongside the elders and take off their shoulders important, but time-consuming ministry tasks.  Acts 6 gives an account of the church appointing deacons (literally, 'servants') who were tasked with leading essential ministries.  Later in the New Testament, Paul gives us some of the spiritual qualifications of these men.  To Paul (and the church in Acts 6), this was an important decision that was not to be taken lightly.

Can a church have a full-time deacon?  Of course, just like most churches have at least one full-time elder.  We just need to make sure we pattern our church government after biblical models of leadership, and not worldly ones.  When we survey the typical mega-church leadership pattern, I'm afraid we find something that looks more like Professional Sports programs or Corporations.

But we shouldn't only lay blame at the feet of mega-churches. I'm afraid we (as Evangelicals) lost this battle years ago when we allowed ourselves to be influenced by the requirements and standards of Robert's Rules of Order and even the IRS.  How many churches 'elect' a whole host of positions that have no scriptural warrant? Yes, yes...many of these positions are valuable; but what strikes me as odd is when someone asks whether or not position X is biblically based.  More often than not the other person will look at you  as if you have two heads.  They will usually respond, "of course we need Position X, Robert's Rules requires it!".  When our church government is virtually identical to our condo association meetings, we should realize there is a problem.  

1 comment:

  1. This article spoke to me brother... we have a lot of positions as our local church that are really not that meaningful we have a social committee that cannot even jump off a basic corn roast and apathetic elders that are do nothings... I wish we would just see what the bible says and follow Jesus! (myself included in this criticism too) I pray God leads just as you said in the beginning of the post