The 10 Most Important Church Staff Relations—and How to Strengthen Them

Every church, no matter how big or small, relies on teamwork. And while every partnership matters, some are especially strategic and worthy of attention. 

Here are 10 critical partnerships within most churches, plus discussion questions to help you cultivate a strong, collaborative relationship for gospel ministry.

1. Elders and church staff

Whatever your leadership structure, no partnership is more critical than that of your highest-level leaders. You set the course for your whole church, so your unity is essential above all others on this list. 

  • How can we make our relationship more gospel-centered than work-centered? 
  • Where can we improve trust and communication between us? 
  • How do we measure alignment and define success in our ministry? 

2. Elders and head pastor

Almost everyone in church ministry knows horror stories of elder-pastor conflict. But with spiritual vigilance and proper accountability measures, unity and trust can define your partnership instead. 

  • What accountability structures can we create or improve? 
  • Should we adjust our pastor and elder selection process? 
  • What happens in the event of sharp disagreement?
  • How can our meetings focus less on business and include more prayer and confession?
  • How can we be more transparent with each other?

3. Head or executive pastor and church staff

Larger churches often have an executive pastor, someone who directly oversees the rest of the church staff. A management relationship within the body of Christ can carry a unique dynamic, so communication is especially important.

  • Do we have clear expectations of one another, and have those been clearly expressed?
  • How can our interactions model first our relationship in Christ, and second our ministry roles? 
  • What we do regularly to encourage collaboration and maintain healthy working relationships? 

4. Children’s pastor and youth pastor

The youth and children’s pastor have the same goal: support families in raising disciples of Christ. And since many under a children’s pastor’s care will soon be under the youth pastor’s care, collaboration is critical. 

  • How can we team up to build a curriculum path from eighteen months to eighteen years? 
  • How can we appropriately discuss the needs and challenges of particular students and families?
  • Where are we studying trends in children and teens, and how are we sharing insights? 
  • What issues does the youth pastor experience that could be addressed earlier? 

5. Youth pastor and college or family pastor

As every child is a future teen, every teen is a future adult. This makes youth pastors and college or family pastors partners in launching mature disciples of Christ. 

  • What does a healthy transition into adulthood look like? 
  • How are youth pastors preparing students for decisions about college, career, family, and more? 
  • What are we seeing in the lives of families that need to be addressed? 
  • How can we work together to engage students and families amid these critical transitions? 

6. Teaching pastor and worship leader

When it comes to your worship service, the two main architects are probably the teaching pastor and worship leader. They must be aligned not only in their foundational philosophies of ministry but also in the details. 

  • What is the main goal of every worship service? 
  • Are worship services primarily for believers or unbelievers?
  • How are our services telling the gospel story weekly? How should they?
  • What is the main theme of this week’s sermon? What songs will reinforce it?
  • Is there anything out of the ordinary this week, such as special announcements or baptisms?

7. Tech/creative staff and worship leader

In many ways, this team is responsible for the mechanics of a worship service. Whether you have one volunteer tech person or a whole team dedicated to tech and creative arts, there’s a lot to think about. 

  • Is the sound volume at a considerate level, to where people can hear one another singing? 
  • Is our staging and lighting facilitating worship or distracting from it? 
  • Have we prepared mics, videos, and slides for the flow of the service? 
  • How is our creative direction telling the story of God’s work in our church? 

8. Church admin and pastoral staff

Administration isn’t for ministry, it is ministry—a spiritual gift that’s vital to every church (1 Cor. 12:28). With that understanding, you elevate administration to the crucial role it deserves in your church. 

  • How can we better invite administrators to shape the direction and work of our church?
  • How can administrators feel supported by the rest of the church staff?
  • What can we do to improve our workflows and function from our strengths? 

9. Teaching pastor and small groups or family pastor

Ideally, Christian education isn’t relegated to just the worship service. It spans time and space, meaning you have many opportunities to shape the minds of your congregation for Christ. What’s your whole-church, long-term plan? 

  • How do we want our congregation to learn and grow over the next one, two, ten, and twenty years? 
  • How can our sermons and midweek ministries reinforce each other or divide and conquer? 
  • If we do small groups, what is that context uniquely fit for in terms of spiritual growth? 
  • How can we equip parents to disciple their children and teach them God’s Word?

10. Church staff and facilities team

Since much of ministry happens in a church building, your church’s facilities team is a major piece of your ministry. Spaces matters, and even more so the people who oversee them. 

  • What are we doing to keep our partnership healthy? 
  • What kind of lead time does the facilities team need to set up for events? 
  • Is there anything around the church building that needs attention (and with that, funds)?
  • Is there any frustration, say from rooms being left in disarray after a youth event? 

***

These are simply questions to prompt conversation. You know your own context—and you may even think of partnerships at your church not mentioned here. Take some time to think through those relationships, gather the right people in the same room, and talk about how to work better together. The investment of time will lead to healthier relationships and more strategic ministry.

This post originally appeared in January 2019 issue of Ministry Team magazine, a publication of Faithlife. Get four issues every year for just $12.99/year. 

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Written by
Matthew Boffey

Matthew Boffey (MDiv, Trinity International University) is the pastor of worship at Christ Church Bellingham. He is also editor-in-chief of Ministry Team magazine, has edited several books, and has written for several blogs and publications, including Relevant online, the Logos blog, and the Faithlife blog.

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Written by Matthew Boffey