What Kind of Church

Reading Bill Easum’s comments on hiring bring to mind the contrast between the Program Based Church and the Team Based Church.

In this piece Easum gives two different models of hiring processes. These models are based on the two kinds of churches. As I reckon my congregation is currently closer to being (or perceived by more people to be) a Program Based Church. Personally, however, I’m attracted to the second model and have been trying to lead the church in that direction since I’ve been here. I recognize that making the transition is very difficult and scary (at least it is to me). When  people used to a Program Based Church encounter elements of the Team Based Church  they  can feel disoriented. “It’s chaos! It’s disorganized! We don’t know what’s going on! No body asked me about this!” are commonly heard phrases.

What are the differences between the two models? The biggest difference comes in the view of ministry. In the Program Based Church, ministry is first done by THE Minister, secondly by the Staff, and thirdly by Volunteers. In the Team Based Church, ministry is done by the members, and led by the staff. In this model, the staff may or may not be paid. The Program Based Church looks for stability and activity. Is the budget healthy? Is the calendar full? Are people doing their jobs? Is attendance up? Are procedures being followed? The Program Based Church tends to summarize its mission as, Doing What We’ve Always Done. While there is nothing wrong with these things, the Team Based Church evaluates by looking at other factors. Are people coming to Christ? Are people growing as Disciples? Are people being equipped for and entering ministry? For the Team Based Church the mission is all about making disciples – whether we do what we’ve always done is mostly irrelevant.

Now, people might very well tell me I’m crazy. I’m used to it. I hear it every day. Of course, since I hear it every day it doesn’t faze me any more. “Don’t you know you live in Pittsburg? This is a small church in a small town. Things will never change.” I’ve been told that many times. I just don’t believe it. Not only does it go against my understanding of what God is up to in Christ and the church, but it also runs counter to my experience.

First, our attendance and participation is way up since I arrived. That’s just not normal in a church and community like this.

Second, God has blessed us with too many skilled people with a heart for ministry and making disciples – both staff and non-staff. Consider Gloria A for a moment. Most folks look at her and say, “She’s the choir/music director.” Some choir directors spend all their time and effort seeking to guard their turf and control things, standing in the way of any changes. It’s part of their job description. Gloria, on the other hand, is constantly doing things outside her job description. Though her primary responsibilities are in the area of music, her heart is for making disciples. She wants more people to come to know Jesus.  I LIKE that. She’s acting like she’s part of a Team Based Church.

You are leaders in this church – whether you have a big title or not. You have influence. People listen to you. What kind of church looks most attractive? What kind of church do you sense God wants your church to be? Why?

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