Staff-Led Church

A friend and mentor, Randy from Discovery Church in New Jersey, just did a class at a local Bible College on being a staff-led church. Church of the Suncoast is a staff-led church and this is a great list of reasons why:

The Biblical Reasoning of a Staff-Led Church

Discovery - A " Staff-Led, Team Run" Church.

The daily ministry and operational decisions at Discovery are made by those doing the daily ministry and operations…the Pastors and Staff. The pastors and staff oversee their various ministries, the The Lead Pastor oversees the pastors and staff on a day-to-day basis while the Management Team (a group of key staff members) has the main responsibility of ensuring we stay within our vision, mission and core values. Finally, the Board of Directors gives financial oversight. However, our most important leadership groups are the various ministry teams.

We believe that every member of Discovery should have a vital place in strategic service on a ministry team. As part of a team, all players are valuable and their input is significant. Those are the people that make Discovery work.

By saying Discovery is "staff-led", we mean that our staff oversee all matters of the church and its operations. It is the staff's job to make sure all ministry decisions stay within the boundaries of our vision, mission and core values. We have lay leaders who oversee the finances of Discovery, and others are available to consult with, but ultimately the staff oversees the operations of the church. The Lead Pastor is the head of our staff and our church, and our Management Team leads with him. However, while Discovery is a staff-led church it does have the financial oversight of the Board of Directors. Furthermore, the Board of Directors sets financial policy while the congregation has input in the selection of the lay leaders serving on the Board of Directors as well as the hiring of a new Senior or Teaching Pastor. Here is the biblical reasoning behind that structure... The church is a flock. Therefore it's cared for and led by shepherds. There are three different terms that are used in the New Testament to refer to the same church leader.

1. "Poimen" in Greek means pastor or shepherd. That means the feeders are the leaders -- the feeding aspect of ministry. Where Jesus says to Peter, "Take care of My sheep" that's the word poimen, it's the word pastor. Pastor means to take care of a flock.

2. "Presbuteros" means "elder" in Greek. "Presbyterian" comes from this. Presbyterians call their leaders \n elders. It's a good, legitimate term. It's a Biblical term. It refers to spiritual maturity. An elder doesn't mean physically old. It means spiritual maturity. Timothy was the elder \n and chief pastor of the church at Ephesus. Paul says, "You are the elder and you're the pastor at Ephesus. You are to appoint other elders." Yet later in the same book it say, "Don't let anybody \n look down on you because you're a young kid." How could he be an elder and \n yet a young kid at the same time? Because he'd been a Christian since he was a child and although he \n might have been 30 years old or 25, he'd been a Christian for 20-25 years. Whereas these guys who were older than him had only been a Christian for a year. It's referring to spiritual maturity, not physical maturity.

3. "Episcopos" is the word for "overseer" or "bishop". "Episcopalian" comes from this. They call their leaders bishops. There's nothing wrong with that; that's a good Biblical word. "Epi" in Greek means "over". "Scopos" means "to see" (telescope, microscope, stethoscope). Episcopos means "to oversee". Today, we call them a manager. Bishop means manager, supervisor, overseer, a manager. It's just an old English word for manager. It refers to the managing aspects of church leadership.

What's the difference between a pastor and an elder? An elder and a bishop? A bishop and a shepherd? A shepherd and an overseer? Nothing!

1 Peter 5:1-2 "To the elders [presbuteros] I say, be shepherds [poimen] of God's flock," So he says an elder is a shepherd is a pastor. Then he says, "...serving as overseers [episcopos]". A bishop is an elder is a pastor.

Acts 20 "Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders [presbuteros] of the church. When they arrived he said to them, `Guard yourselves and all the flock of God which the Holy Spirit has made you noverseers [bishop]. Be pastors [shepherds] of the church of God ."

They are used interchangeably. How many pastors does our church have? Remember I'm not talking about ministers. Every Christian that attends Discovery is a minister. Then we have staff and ordained or licensed pastors who lead the church and some of them are part of what we call the Pastor's Management Team. This is the leadership of Discovery. Why? Because an elder is a pastor...and a bishop...and an Overseer. They are the same people. In many churches, you have pastors who are paid full time to serve, then you have volunteer men who serve as elders. There's nothing wrong with that at all. There's only one problem: In a church that's growing like Discovery you need full time leadership, not part time leadership leading it. So at Discovery, the majority of our elders are paid full time to serve. We just call them pastors.