Video: Management Training for Church Pastors & Leaders — The Answers In 60 Seconds


Management Training for Church Leaders.

Management Training for Church Leaders:

The QuestionsYour Business Blogger(R) would often tease Preachers about their work-load.

After all, they only work one hour a week. On Sunday.

Pastors always laugh at that old joke. Diplomacy is part of their discipline.

But as managers, Pastors have double duty.

They have the work of an individual contributor.

They have the responsibilities of management.

Between the christening, marrying and burying, they really do have the hardest job on this side of eternity.


The Christian Church which shepherds believers and their faith worldwide, is nevertheless much like any organization in terms of order and structure. Basic management principles apply.

Pastors often must focus on numbers: numbers: attendance, budget, seating, parking, programs.

But the Pastor as manager doesn’t manage numbers, he manages behaviors.

If not of the congregation, then hopefully of his staff.

The following questions concern management strategies. The numbers will follow once skills are in place.

All church organizations and staffs experience personnel challenges and management concerns. The following questions concern management strategies and skill building for pastor-managers who can benefit from knowing that the numbers will follow once the staff is trained and trusted, and skills are in place.


The Pastor leads people and manages behaviors.

The Pastor doesn’t manage numbers; he manages behaviors.

The Pastor doesn’t manage staff; he leads people.

The YouTube video presents 5 common questions. Here are the 5 answers and bonus solutions to many church management problems.

1. What does the church leader, the manager really do?

Plan, Lead, Organize, Control, Motivate.

The pastor’s focus must be on both the congregation and his staff. This requires skill building and continuous learning as the pastor also undoubtedly must commit serious time and attention to study and sermon preparation.

Here the Pastor is radically different from the manager in business and government. In business there are many areas of which the manager will know little or nothing. But he depends upon department heads to support him.

A great deal of the Pastor’s time is consumed in the research and review of the sermon. This is work that only the Pastor can do — this is vocational time.

The Pastor is one of the few managerial disciplines that has considerable management time and the vocational-knowledge responsibilities of an individual contributor.

For most managers the formula is simple: Knowledge plus Network equals Success. The manager’s success is dependent on getting his network…to work. To succeed, the manager needs the support of his Ruling Board, outside peers, and staff.

2. What does the individual contributor do?

The work. The individual contributor does the hands-on work — in business it would be the accountant, brick layer, college professor. This is the vocational, the knowledge-worker.

The manager, in a routine management position, has few vocational duties.

Except for the Pastor.

His is one of the few positions requiring both extensive hands on — sermon writing — and management skills. Little wonder Pastors run out of time.

3. Pastors, why were you hired?

If management wasn’t mentioned, that’s not unusual. Indeed, the search committee had a list of KSA’s (knowledge – skills – abilities), but often they don’t delve into management maturity or the candidates ability to garner support of his network. Pastors usually are hired for their wisdom and judgment.

Traditionally, seminaries haven’t focused on the day-to-day management challenges. So even pastors over 50 may only have the management maturity of a twenty something. Henry Ford once said that, “If you take all the experience and judgment of men over fifty out of the world, there wouldn’t be enough left to run it.”

4. Can the church manager be a victim?

Many Church leaders feel this way – but the Pastor must have impact on his church and the community. The manager must be in control of events or favorably influence outcomes.

The successful Pastor- manager is able to develop a team that is proactive. The Pastor and his staff are on the “offensive” for good. For example, a church received visits by the police for violating noise level ordinances. That church was on defense.

The best Pastor-manager and his team would have anticipated any community friction and worked out solutions.

5. What happens when the team/church staff is angry?

Even if the staff displays no emotion because they are “people of faith,” they still need

a trusted manager to whom they can turn and who knows how to deal with their concerns and get to the bottom of the matter. The worst outcome of an angry staffer in a church work environment is not disobedience, but incentive-stifling compliance. Such negative attitudes, in turn, damage the manager who will often need his team to protect him from (his) mistakes.

In the army the cliché was, “Take care of the troops and they will take care of you. And if you don’t take care of the troops, they will take care of you – the troops always get even.” But even if the staff displays no emotion, the manager will often need his team to protect him from (his) mistakes. The worst outcome of an angry staffer is not disobedience, but supervise compliance.

Of course church staff aren’t really into vengeance; they just hurt, withdraw, and stay

out of sight as much as possible. This is especially true for staff with a distracted pastor-boss and it is why staff-building events, lunches, silly contests and required prayers together seldom work.


Your Business Blogger(R) and Charmaine

and the Penta-Posse on Easter Sunday

2005 Grand Canyon 6. Who are the church ‘constituents’ and ‘customers’?

This is the classic dilemma in the non-profit world – the disconnect between who gives and who gets. The constituents, who tithe in the pews, are not the customers; recipients of charity from the pastor’s discretionary fund or outreach budget are the actual customers.

These ‘customers’ probably are not even members of the church. This poses unique challenges for church managers and staff, who need skills and understanding. Many church employees, especially the young, don’t know that the dynamics they find frustrating are the result of working for a non-profit.

7. When is counsel, coun-‘sell’?

A council of advisors – akin to a church’s Administrative Board or Vestry – should ‘sell’ counsel, advice to the pastor. The pastor can buy the advice or not and making the best decision is the wisdom of mature management.

If the senior pastor isn’t trained to make good decisions by asking for recommendations, people at all the other levels will suffer the consequences and have no opportunity to express themselves.

8. What is the most important concern for the church staff? The work/ministry, the people/congregation or the boss/Pastor?

The Pastor. (Staff and Pastors always get this wrong – staff thinks it has the answer and gives the wrong answer. Pastors know the right answer and give the wrong answer, out of embarrassment…)

Even in the atmosphere of ‘servant leadership’ the Senior Pastor is the final arbiter, the final decision maker and sets the tone for decisions made by subordinates.

Here again, the church leader is quite different than other business leaders. In any other ‘industry’ some managers might prefer to be low profile. Pastors do not have this option; commanding a pulpit three times or more a week puts him, well, front and center whether he wants to be seen or not.

It is the Pastor’s direction that counts in making decisions on the strategic direction of his church. Every church staff member, of course has his work to do.

The staffer does not have his own agenda.

Only the Pastor.

9. Is office politics good or bad?

Politics is the normal interaction of people and power and position and process. Office politics in a church setting is a tool to be acknowledged and used by church management.

10. Is it better for the church leader to have the answers, or to ask the questions?

Neither. It is best for the church leader to have competent staff who anticipate questions, research alternatives and present recommendations. Why does the pastor have to think of everything? (I know, I know…I’m sorry to ask.)

But if the structure only allows for a few associate pastors – those who insulate the church leader or senior pastor – to offer information, the intelligence and experience of other staffers who work in different parts of the church is wasted.

The subordinate should bring not only questions, but suggested answers. The church leader can then grade the answers and make decisions on staffer’s recommendations.

11. How does the Pastor know when he is managing well?

The best church staff will bring a memo/course of action/decision that will require nothing more than the Pastor’s signature.

There is friction if communications channels aren’t in place. Many challenges may not even be known to some staffers who could make a difference; the manager should be looking for input.

12. Does the Associate Pastor have the “right” to church resources?

Nope. The mere position of authority may or may not command compliance from the church bureaucracy. It has to be earned.

Church managers, like mid-level managers in any organization, do not have a “right” to assets or support from his peers in sister departments — even if the manager’s position warrants.

The professional manager nurtures his network.

13. Who is the boss? Who is the subordinate? How can an observer tell if the Senior Pastor they trust as their spiritual leader is the one really making the decisions?

The military has the template. There is a term for a subordinate in the Army called, “Action Officer.” There is no doubt when the superior officer and junior officer work together, that the action, the next steps remain with the lower ranking Action Officer. Management training teaches managers and staff to understand who is tasked with an assignment and what the follow-up will look like. Training reviews the understanding of clean lines in the chain of command and who has the next move.

14. Is there a relationship between the time a manager ‘works’ and the results?

No. The manager should see himself, not just as the captain of a ship – but as the helmsman with a light touch on the rudder. Where the slightest movement, the smallest effort moves the rudder and can direct the largest vessel.

15. What is the Pastor responsible for?

All that his church does, or fails to do.

Even if The Senior Pastor delegates to another pastor and gives him both the responsibility and the authority, the congregation will likely still demand that the Senior Pastor do it instead: the christening, marrying and burying.

16. What makes for the best Associate Pastors?

If the Associate Pastor, or any staff, waits until being told what to do or has to ask what to do, the senior pastor is not running a healthy organization — he is running a kids-daycare center for adults. Associate Pastors need to know what to do, how to do it, and when. Training and discipline preparation for them is not unlike the Army’s definition: Prompt obedience to orders or the initiation of appropriate action in the absence of orders.

Every Senior Pastor’s deam.

Every Senior Pastor should be training his successor.

17. When should the church leader raise his voice? – When should the church leader not take counsel?

When the sanctuary is on fire. And a fire-and-brimstone sermon, to be sure.

Emergencies are the few times that a direct order — or direct shouting — is required. And maybe not even then if you’re Presbyterian…

In most instances the Pastors should make a moment to take council of the mature adivsors. Seldom in any situation will the manager need to raise his voice.

For more on management in 60 seconds, see:

Management Training: A Formula For Success


Thank you (foot)notes:

Cross Post at Management Training of DC, LLC.

Please email me for comments and suggestions.


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