Structured for Ministry
A friend asked me last week about how we have structured Cornerstone for ministry. He was curious about how we do meetings and committees, and I realized that I haven’t really blogged about our structure much. So here’s a quick overview of our leadership structure.
Teams Not Committees
We don’t believe in committees. When you mention the word committee, most people picture a boring round-table discussion. Committees tend to review decisions and they are typically structured to prevent bad things from happening. Just like in sports, a good defense is important, but you can’t advance the ball down the field if you are always playing defense. That’s why we like meeting as teams instead of committees.
In a team, everyone plays a part and the goal is to do ministry. Instead of control, the focus is on action, so our teams are structured around ministry instead of decisions. This involves a high level of trust, because you have to trust ministry leaders to make daily decisions, but it empowers people to make a difference. Instead of having to clear every decision through numerous boards and committees, they can focus on ministering to others. In order to do this, we have created a system that allows for strong leadership with accountability, a system designed around trust and around action. Here’s how.
3 Tiered Leadership Structure
A new church has the advantage of creating a structure. While the Bible has much to say about the roles and functions we have in a church, the Bible does give us freedom in structure and methodology. At Cornerstone, we studied the Bible and other churches and came up with a system that we hope is both Biblical and effective. It’s based on 3 main leadership groups: our Elder Team, our Administrative Team, and our Ministry Leadership Team. Keep reading to find out more.
Our Elders provide spiritual oversight of the church. They are men chosen in accordance with 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and they are the leaders and pastors of the church. Their role is to prayerfully seek God’s will and guidance for the vision and direction of the church. As pastor, I am part of the Elder team as what is commonly described as the “first among equals.” My role is to provide guidance and leadership to the group, but I serve alongside them, not above them. We meet twice per month unless a special need arises. Our first monthly meeting is to discuss leadership issues and to talk about the vision and direction of the church. We make plans about sermon series and about ministry events and plan for the future of the church. Decisions are made by consensus of the Elder group and not by popular vote of the congregation. In our second monthly meeting, we focus on prayer, Bible study, and our congregation. This is what we call our shepherding meeting, and we use it to discuss how we care for the congregation God has entrusted to us. We like to meet in a relaxed environment so we can focus on ministry. These meetings typically last 90 minutes and the time and location varies.
Our Administrative Team obviously handles the administrative, financial, and legal responsibilities of the church, but their role goes far beyond that. They help us accomplish the vision by maximizing our use of the resources God has entrusted to us. They keep us on track by providing accountability and input to our ministry leaders to our Elders by making sure what we do matches the vision of the church. This is our team that has to find a way to make things happen. They meet once per month to review budget issues and to work on projects. In the past I have attended these meetings, but I am turning this responsibility over to one of our elders who is gifted in the area of administration.
Our Ministry Leaders are the front lines of ministry. They make decisions within their ministry areas and they each lead a team of volunteers. One of their main roles is to recruit volunteers who have a passion to serve within their ministry. We want people to serve out of passion and not out of obligation. They have a large responsibility, so we meet twice a month as a group for coaching and encouragement. These are staff meetings that I lead as a pastor. We spend time working on our leadership development, we plan upcoming events and activities, and we celebrate what God is doing at our church. You can see a listing of our various ministry areas on the leadership page of our church website.
Our system is far from perfect, and we plan to continue to tweak our way of doing things, but we have seen people empowered for ministry. We struggle with the same things that many other churches struggle with: a lack of volunteers, people who are too busy to meet, and frustration and burnout of some of our volunteers. In a small to medium-sized church, all of these roles are filled by volunteers, some with very demanding jobs, so we don’t want to waste their time by having too many meetings. We want them to spend time in ministry, not just talking about it.
For me, I have 4 meetings per month that I lead. Two with our elders and two with our ministry leaders. These are the people who I am pouring into and serving. In turn, they are then ministering to and meeting with the people under their care. It’s a beautiful thing to see the church really be the church, and to see the body minister to one another. My hope and prayer is that we will continue to see that happen.
For more information about church structure, consider checking out the following books