Pastors Need Teams
It’s not debatable. And yet, it’s not accepted by all pastors, which leads to unnecessary suffering for parishioners, Church employees, and pastors themselves. So let’s take a quick look at the reasons why a pastor must have a real, trusted team around him.
Reason #1: God made us to need others. From the beginning, He made it clear that we are not meant to be alone. And yet loneliness is all too often the reality for pastors. They feel that they have to keep their distance from others in order to preserve their ability to be their spiritual fathers. They hold onto challenges and fears and frustrations as though they were details from a penitent under the seal of the confessional. Pastors need trusted colleagues, people they can turn to in confidence and vulnerability, in the pursuit of sanity, good decision-making and fellowship.
Reason #2: No one is good at everything. Every pastor, every single one, has serious limitations. And those limitations cannot be dismissed. To do so is to abdicate responsibilities that must be addressed in a parish. Too often, pastors either try to prove that they are good at things they are not (and they fool no one), or they avoid and let issues fester because they aren’t good at addressing them. This is a recipe for failure in any organization.
Reason #3: Teams outperform non-teams. If parishes are the most important organizations in society – and they are! – then how could anyone justify not tapping into the most important competitive advantage in organizational life? Think about it this way. A pastor deciding that he doesn’t need a team around him is the equivalent of him saying ‘mediocrity is fine’. It’s as ridiculous as a football coach dismissing the importance of conditioning, or a chef dismissing seasoning. If a pastor is serious about making his parish as effective as possible in bringing people to Jesus, then he must embrace teamwork.
I honestly cannot imagine a pastor reading the previous paragraphs and earnestly advocating for running his parish without the help of a team. But there is one remaining obstacle that might prevent him from embracing teamwork: not understanding what it is on the most practical level.
For a pastor, teamwork must begin with a small leadership team around him, a group of trustworthy people who are involved and invested in the success of the parish, and who are capable of sharing the burden of running the parish. Yes, sharing the burden. That is not the same as diminishing the authority of the pastor. Not at all. But leadership team members must see their responsibility as equal to that of the pastor, and without limits around departments or ministries or titles. They must come together, with the pastor, and lighten the burden that too many pastors bear on their own.
Now, this doesn’t happen overnight. Putting together a team takes time, but it begins with a small step, followed by another small step, and yet another. And the first thing a pastor must do is embrace the idea of having a team. Hesitancy or skepticism or doubt will make it so much harder, if not impossible.
Then he must choose the people who will be members of his team. That is, of course, essential, and not easy. Fortunately, there are pastors, and coaches of pastors, who have done this successfully, and who are more than willing to help. If you’re ready to embrace the need for having a leadership team, we’re here to help. Let us know.
Pat Lencioni | Co-founder
The Amazing Parish