Church Leadership Progression

I have heard this illustration in various places (no idea who deserves credit), but I modified it for our staff and context.  Maybe it will be helpful for your staff?

  • Church leader as a solo pastor, similar to a track athlete who participates in many events, but isn’t especially skilled at any of them.
  • At this level of church leadership (less then 150) the pastor is the counselor, preacher, administrator, and helps with everything on Sunday morning.
  • Next, church leaders operate like two or three golfing buddies.  There is a small team that meets informally and closely works through issues together.
  • At this point the church staff (around 250-350) are dividing up the tasks, but the overlap is obvious.  It’s evident that are people to help share the burden, but it’s not terribly efficient because every aspect of every ministry is discussed.
  • Moving forward a church leaders function as a basketball team of four to eight players.  The lead pastor functions as the point guard, still setting up every play and all the pastors still playing as generalists on both offense and defense.
  • Now the church (500-750) staff is starting to get in their groove and almost everyone is a specialist.  People have specific roles and the overlap is minimal.  People critique each other’s “play,” but it’s still up to each leader to implement the changes.  They may all have to go to certain meetings, but they have more meetings in their area of ministry then they do with the rest of the staff.
  • Church leaders as a football team where the staff functions as different teams that don’t really interact much and each have different specialties and coaches under the lead pastor/head coach.
  • At this point (1000+) there may be weeks that go by without some of the pastors spending much time with the Lead Pastor.  Instead they may now have another direct supervisor.  The staff is very specialized and is experts in their field.  They have either staff or Lead Volunteers that they communicate with regularly.  They are very focused on their weekly tasks and they only go to ministry specific meetings.  The only time they may spend extended time with the entire staff may be at an all-staff meeting or staff function.

Anthony Gratto

Executive Pastor

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1 comment so far

  1. david on

    good thoughts, Anthony.

    Gary McIntosh has a book One Size Doesn’t Fit All which really unpacks these ideas. He’s created categories and charts to illustrate in a very good way what you’re talking about.

    We’ve used some of his stuff at our church to help our lay leaders understand that as a church of 1200, we can no longer function like a church of 600.

    thanks for the post!


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