Saturday, January 25, 2014

Creative Staffing

In his book, Unleashing the Church, Frank Tillapaugh describes the innovative way in which he staffed his inner city church in Denver. His professional staff included both full and part-time ministers as most churches do, but some positions were unpaid. All staff were given the authority and respect merited by their position whether or not they were paid, including opportunities for professional development. This enabled Tillapaugh's church to establish “a major ministry with modest means.”

There are many people in America with some level of formal theological education who are not making a living by serving a church. Some may be a stay at home spouse, retired or employed in another field. Some of these folks do not desire a paid position in a church and others want to return to full-time church work but haven't found a paying position, yet.

Serving as staff in an unfunded position can be a good experience for those who are looking to be hired full-time one day. It provides experience, networking opportunities, and career continuity. More importantly, it provides a way to fulfill the calling that led one to seek theological training in the first place.

Ray Bakke, The Urban Christian, told a seminary class that 50% of the graduates would be out of ministry in five years. The primary reason was that there were not enough paying jobs to keep up with all the graduates of America's seminaries, divinity schools and Bible colleges. On the other hand, there was a growing need for more workers in the harvest field. The number of Christians as a percentage of society was shrinking. Furthermore, new church starts were not keeping up with population growth.

Bakke stated that if we are to maintain a Christian witness in America and reach this generation with the gospel, we will need large numbers of trained ministers who will be self-supporting and committed to spreading the gospel. This is a familiar concept for Baptists. As America expanded West, the farmer/preacher tended to the spiritual needs of the pioneers. These bivocational pastors, who helped make Baptists the second largest denomination in America, are the key to evangelism in the 21st century.

Today, we need bivocational ministers of all types. Churches in affluent neighborhoods have large, fully funded staffs to meet the needs of their church members. In contrast, under-resourced neighborhoods have the same (often greater) needs but lack the finances to hire the needed staff. The answer, again, is a large number of trained, committed and self supporting ministers who are called to show God's love to our inner city areas.

This is an important element in Baptist Temple's ability to provide so many ministries to our community. On the front lines are our bivocational pastors: John Richey (Family Deaf Church), Raul Lozano (Betel) and Milton Smith (Empowering Grace). There is also a second wave of unfunded or partially funded ministry associates: Maryanne Richey (Deaf ministry), Clinton Shull (outreach and evangelism), Larry Brown (Deaf and pastoral ministry) and Joe Guinn (daycare and hunger ministries). All have advanced ministry training and have been called to minister to our church and community.

In addition, there are the counselors who are funded thorough the BCFS to provide free family counseling and the volunteer support staff that help with maintenance and office duties.

Baptist Temple is not unique in its approach to ministry staffing but the model that we are adopting is one that will allow urban churches with a desire to spread the gospel effectively.

No comments: