Two of the CCB staff are away this week. How did that happen? Both of them. How am I going to cope?
So it’s just me. Oh, and two apprentices. But it’s just like old times. No meetings. No phone calls. No e-mails. No delegation. No mistakes. No misunderstandings. No mates. There’s no doubt that things are less complicated without staff. But it’s just not the same; in a bad way. And so I’ve been thanking God for our staff team in their absence. It made me think about what a church gains by having staff.
1. Having staff makes me a better pastor. Believe it or not it’s possible to hide away from personal care issues as a pastor. We can hide behind meetings, being busy with evangelistic priorities, sitting on ministry committees, providing apprenticeship training and talking up preaching priorties. We can so delegate personal care issues to the small group leaders that we completely clear our desk of those time consuming interactions. But the staff team are like my own small group. I have to get involved when the assistant pastor breaks down in tears in the middle of the staff meeting. I have to get involved when the administrator’s marriage has hit a wall. Neither of those things has happened. But they could. And the point is that when they do I need to be involved. But it’s not only corrective pastoring that I need to be involved with but preventative pastoring. I need to proactively help them in their Christian life. And so I’m actively involved in discipling at least a couple fo Christians. You’d want your pastor to be doing that, wouldn’t you?
2. Having staff increases my productivity. I can get more done by having staff. Sure they need managing and having staff adds to my workload. But they take things off my desk and so I can give my time to other things. Of course, we have to factor in the law of diminuishing returns. Having two staff members doesn’t double your workload. But together we get more done for the gospel. That’s got to be good for a church that’s ambitious, in the right sense, for the growth of the kingdom of God.
3. Having staff refines my godliness. Having to work in close relational proximity with a small team means that godliness and character matters. I have to work on holiness; probably not as much as the staff, but that’s another issue! But the staff get to see what I’m like when the masks are off. They see my when I’m tired, when I’m irritated, when I’m disappointed and when I’m pressured. They see how I respond to a variety of situations. And so they add a level of accountabiulty to the way I behave that otherwise wouldn’t be there. If we all worked in the same office it’d be more pronounced. And that’s one of the things that I’m looking forward to. We’ll be able to start the day in prayer, talk about what we’ve been learning over lunch and grab a few moments over a coffee to catch up on life in general.
4. Having staff models Christian working relationships. We have to practice patience, gentleness and forgiveness because we’re not perfect. And we have to practice support and encouragement because we all need it in ministry. And so the congregation will see and hear how we relate to one another. They see how well or how badly we treat each other. It’s good for them to have that insight.They’ll see that I can capably communicate in Pete’s love language, which is ‘banter’. But they’ll also spot that I’ve realised that Anna speaks another love language! In some ways it’ll see the temperature for relationships within the church. How I relate to subordinate staff and how they relate to me as someone in authority over them communicates heaps.
5. Having staff raises the quality of everything. Having staff means that you can do more. But it also means that you can do more at a better standard. With one staff member you choose a generalist; like me. I’m generally alright at everything required of a church leader. I’m not a specialist (unless being generally alright is considered a speciality!). When you appoint a second and thrid staff member you can choose a specialist. Our administrator is better at admin than me; that’s means that the quality of administration has improved. We want to be a church that does things better than we’re doing them at the moment, for the glory of God.
6. Having staff means other groups are represented. When it comes to planning there’s a danger that I can become a little ‘one eyed’. I can assume that everything needs the things that I need and likes the things that I like. But we’re not a congregation of adult males with mid life crises! Having a staff team brings different perspectives to church life. It means I’m forced to see things from a different angle. The staff bring extra pairs of ears and eyes. And they get to see and hear things that I haven’t. They often have their finger more on the pulse than I do because they’re not the boss. And that’s helpful.
7. Having staff puts training at the heart of church life. I engage in more theological reflection and more ministry training if I have responsibility for my growing and maturing my staff. Pete and I have just finished reading ‘The Trellis and the Vine’ by Tony Payne and Col Marshall. In all honesty I probably wouldn’t have got to it until I was required to teach on the issue. I meet with the apprentices and we read ministry papers every couple of weeks. It means that I have a training mentality that otherwise I might not have. A large part of my role as senior pastor is to help grow the staff as Christian disciples. I bring that mindset to bear on the congregation as a whole. We want to be a disciple growing church; and because we have staff, that’s constantly on my mind.
I’m looking forward to getting the staff back. I’m pleased that they’re getting a well deserved break. Whilst they’re away I’m just about managing, or at least I’m in denial. But more importantly, I’m thanking God for giving them to us.