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Elder – Minister Relationships

NoFeedbackNecessaryAs an elder, how do you view your ministers? Are they partners with you in ministry or are they simply the hired help? Are they viewed as a leader within the congregation or simply as a public speaker? Do you value their input or do you tolerate their opinion?

Over the last 60 days I have reviewed the websites of over 1,500 church of Christ congregations from all across the country. In doing so, I’ve witnessed a wide range of congregational leadership models and management issues.

On some church websites the ministers appear to be non-existent or at best, interchangeable with the custodial staff. The elders may have nice profiles talking about each of their backgrounds. The deacons may have similar profiles that talk about their areas of ministry. But the ministers are listed under the heading of “staff” along with the custodians and lawn maintenance guys. It creates the impression that the minister really isn’t important in the life of the congregation.

In other congregations, the situation appears to be almost the reverse. The ministers have large profiles on the website telling all about their family, education and past works. The site offers links to their blog, Facebook account, Twitter feed and their phone number and encourages you to contact them. On some of those same sites the elders are not even listed or referenced as part of the congregation’s leadership. It creates the impression that the ministers are the pastors of the congregation.

One of the things that we are careful to avoid at Minister Match is any discussion about changing or reforming our traditional congregational governance model. We believe that elders are and should be the top leaders of the congregation. The ministers (along with the elders, deacons, and others) are just part of the team of “doers” that fulfill the roles of evangelists and program leaders. Ministers are typically not elders and we do not advocate that they be treated as such.

Having said that, what I am suggesting is that elders need to be certain that they place the proper value on their ministers and appreciate their role within the body. Your ministers are your most visible representatives to the congregation and the public on a day in and day out basis. They have their feet on the street and know the pulse of the congregation (maybe from a different perspective from what the elders might see).

Acknowledge their value and role as a leader in the congregation. Value their input. And while yes, you are their “boss,” treat them like a partner who works with you to help people grow closer to the Father.

When ministers do not perceive that they are valued or that their input is not valued, they inevitably will start looking for a work where they can make a greater impact. Don’t let that happen to your congregation. Not when you do in fact value their contribution and would be sorry to see them go.

Also stop and take a look at your congregation’s website. From a leadership perspective, does it clearly convey that the elders are the leaders of the congregation? Does it help people get to know the elders and how to connect with them? Does it show that you value your relationship with the minister and value their efforts on your behalf?

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Jim Burdette - Elder, Frederick Church of Christ
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Minister Match connected me with a church, had the details for every aspect of the process already taken care of, and communicated well. It was a very easy process, and now I am a youth minister in Miami, Florida!  I was very impressed with the ...
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410 South Lowe Avenue
Cookeville, TN 38501

ABC Blocks

Your congregation has just hired a minister, and it seems like they are the perfect fit. Congratulations! There is one more step to the process, though, and it is just as important as the process of finding the right minister. You might have heard people refer to how the “first hundred days” of someone’s job usually sets the tone for their entire career with that organization. The same is true with ministers. Just as your congregation is going through a major transition, so is your new minister. The first few months of a job are a stressful time, and it is the job of the elders and search committee to help your new minister through their transition.

We refer to this as the “On-Boarding Stage.” Since the “first hundred days” is so important to the rest of a minister’s career with your congregation, we believe this stage is one of the keys to reducing minister turnover in the church. In this post, we want to talk about a few of the things that a new minister needs from their congregation during this transition period. We will refer to them as the ABC’s of the On-Boarding Phase.