People want to do a job well, but often don’t know what is expected of them. They don’t know what they don’t know. Clear descriptions of ministry roles give direction to fruitful ministry and mission.
By Heber Ticas, Superintendent of Latin America
At 27 years of age, I was a young man with a zeal for the Lord and a profound desire to serve Jesus and his Church. I had already been serving the church in children’s and youth ministry, and I was even given the opportunity to share the sermon from time to time. Then I was asked to become the assistant pastor of the congregation. We were only a group of forty to fifty people, but I was both thrilled and terrified. I loved the opportunity to serve with the Lord in another dimension, but I was intimidated by the role. To make matters worse, I was commissioned as assistant pastor, but the Sr. Pastor never provided me with a clear description of what my role entailed.
As one can imagine, this was a recipe for potential disaster. As time progressed, I was somewhat frustrated, but I tried to make the best of the situation. A few years later, the Pastor expressed his frustration towards me, communicating that he believed I was not executing my role. You get the idea. The lack of clear roles led to a lack in communication. That experience stuck with me and played itself out again later in my own pastoral ministry. This time, however, the shoe was on the other foot.
These experiences helped me better understand the dynamic of the relationship between the pastors and ministry leaders. Our GCI ministry model of Team Based Pastor Led informs us that a healthy pastor is a leader of leaders. Leading others to participate in team-based ministry requires a clear and concise understanding of ministry roles, hence the need for ministry descriptions. Throughout the years. I have made it a practice to write up a ministry description for each of the vital ministries in my congregation. Such descriptions clearly state the ministry purpose, the ministry strategy, and most importantly, the ministry leader’s role.
You may recall Jesus’ sending of the twelve. He did not give them participation in his ministry without clear instructions of what they were to do. It was clear that they were going in the power of the Spirit, with the authority of the Son, to proclaim the kingdom, to cast out demons and to heal the sick. According to Matthew’s account, Jesus clearly stated where they would go. I believe that Jesus provides us the ultimate model of leadership. As leaders of leaders, it is vital that we bring clarity to the roles of the leaders we are inviting to participate with us in ministry. Our participation in community (team-based) requires us to be responsible and accountable to one another.
Here are some benefits that I have seen in preparing ministry descriptions for my ministry leaders:
- It provides clarity for both the pastor and the ministry leader.
- It gives the pastor an opportunity to clearly define the expectations for the ministry and the leader.
- It affords the pastor an opportunity to lead from a place of mutual understanding and unity.
- It cultivates ministry harmony and relational harmony where Team Based Pastor Led can be experienced.
- It keeps leaders accountable to their role and responsibility.
- It allows for the pastor to “call up” ministry leaders when they are not fulfilling their roles.
Because our passions and gifting are different, ministry descriptions may also differ. It is crucial that the articulation of ministry description occur in collaboration with the ministry leader. When putting together the descriptions, one may also want to consider the following:
- Be true to values, vision, and mission.
- Be sure that ministry alignment is considered.
- Be careful that you are not creating silos. You may want to share the different ministry descriptions with the whole team.
- All ministry descriptions should be flexible.
- Be careful not to stifle giftedness and creativity.
- Always consider leadership multiplication as a role of every leader.
- It is a good practice to review ministry descriptions on a yearly basis with the ministry leader.
This practice has helped me immensely in creating direction for the functioning ministries in our congregation. When ministry alignment occurs, and leaders are leading from a place of clarity, misunderstandings are minimized, and relational unity occurs. Team Based Pastor Led becomes a reality and ministry flows with a lot more ease.