Friday, October 29, 2010

The Multiple Staff Church

Quite a few years ago I looked through Lyle E. Schaller's The Multiple Staff and the Larger Church (Abingdon, 1980). Schaller is never easy reading, and some of the book is dated (when he refers to the characteristics of ministers born before 1935, for instance). But I recommend the book for guidance and advice on how to lead a larger congregation, as well as how to lead your staff if you're a senior pastor, and how to minister well if you're another staff member in a larger, multi-staffed church.

He also stresses that, although seminaries train people to be pastors, the training doesn't necessarily prepare a person for leading staff, for serving (often among sizable egos) in a multi-staff church, and for addressing the particular expectations and pitfalls of a larger church. The book is still available from Abingdon Press and would probably be used well along with Schaller's more recent writings, and in discussions with friends and colleagues who are presently serving larger congregations.

I cite this book because I've noticed how many columns, blogs, and talks about pastoral leadership assume the pastor is the only staff member of a church (other than, for instance, the administrative assistant, custodian, etc.). Multi-staff churches are so common, but writers (I've done it too) perpetuate that comparatively individualistic view taught in seminary: the pastor is the sole pastoral leader in a congregation. As we read this material, we need to think how the writers' thoughts might also relate to staffs and ministry teams.

I really like this writer's advice on how to set appropriate limits as a pastor in the face of people's expectations. He touches on some of the challenges of larger churches and the rewards and punishments that arise in congregations. His good reflections raise other issues: what if you're a church staff person to whom the pastor is delegating work? What if a fellow staff member is very demanding? How do you set boundaries and command respect if you're the associate pastor (see Schaller's last chapter)? How do you ensure a good leadership team so that the staff cares for each other and supports one another?

There are good ways of approaching staff relations, as Schaller discusses in the book. I recently attended a lecture, by a respected church writer, that concerned pastoral leadership, congregational expectations, and effective ministry. Good thoughts, but the discussion still centered upon the lone pastor out there, trying to figure things out, rather than the pastor who is functioning with some kind of team. 89899999999999999999999999999999tgfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff

When we reflect on the difficulties and challenges of pastoral leadership, how can we expand our vision and ideas to include the dynamics of larger congregations? How can we stop perpetuating an unintentionally individualistic model of parish ministry?

(Just to be lighthearted, I left the results of my cat walking across the keyboard. Perhaps my cat would like to blog, too.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Paul. I'm a UCC interim minister who's currently consulting on long-term planning with the congregation where my husband and I've been attending (when we're not interim-ing elsewhere). They are preparing for the retirement of their senior pastor in four years, have just called a new associate pastor from our partner church in Germany, just added a part time semi-retired pastor of visitation and myself (also very part time). Suddenly the staff profile has dramatically changed! I'll need to track down Schaller's book and check out the link. They look like should be helpful as we explore our present and future vision for ministry.