New staff positions to emerge this decade

Churches create jobs to meet the needs of extending vision and streamlining programs.

By Sam S. Rainer

If your church remains healthy, then the staff structure will probably look much different in 2020 than it does right now. Church leaders will work for long periods of time to implement new visions for their congregations. They will labor for years to simplify the structures of their churches. They will lead their churches to adopt new discipleship processes and streamline programs. Yet one of the most needed changes that are often left untouched is the staff.

As churches move forward, existing staff structures are often left in place. Healthy churches that progress, however, will inevitably create positions for people who will champion the new vision.

Over the next 10 years we are likely to see several different staff roles emerge in the church. What might these positions look like? While a small number of churches have created some of these roles, here are some positions that may grow in popularity by 2020.

The Network Administrator:

Multi-site churches are here to stay. In the next decade they will become more numerous. They will not be limited to megachurches in densely populated areas. More multi-site churches will spring up in rural areas. Smaller churches will start new sites. As a result, there will be a need for someone to handle the administration between campuses. The network administrator will coordinate clarity of communication, movement of people, alignment of programs, and focus of vision across multiple campuses.
Church size: 800+
Reports to the operations pastor, chief of staff, or senior pastor

The Multicultural Children’s Director:

The United States will become minority white by 2042, but preschools will become minority white by 2021. This diversity will not be limited to large, urban areas. Diversity is spreading out and getting younger. The children’s director is not a new position, but almost every church will need a children’s director who knows how to minister in the new heterogeneous society.
Church size: All
Reports to the chief of staff, spiritual growth pastor, or senior pastor

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The Chief of Staff:

It has been the key position for top political leaders for some time. Now many CEOs are seeking a confidant, gatekeeper, and strategic consultant in a person who is chief of staff. While the title will probably not carry over to the church, many larger churches will hire an experienced pastor to help the senior pastor deal with staff, sticky situations and logistics. From answering email to fielding questions from the media, the chief of staff must think like, and understand the personality of the senior pastor.
Church size: 2,000+
Reports to the senior pastor

The Operations Pastor:

Managing the time and tithe of the congregants once fell on the shoulders of the executive pastor. In the next 10 years, however, the role of the executive pastor will move towards either staff management (like the chief of staff) or operations management. The operations pastor will oversee the inner workings of the church, particularly the finances, buildings, grounds and church committees or teams.
Church size: 1,000+
Reports to the senior pastor

The Creative Arts Director:

Big screens are the new stained glass windows. Stained glass was used in the Middle Ages to communicate the Gospel to a mainly illiterate society. Big screens help communicate the Gospel to a highly visual culture. Both are technological innovations. The difference is the flexibility and changeability of today’s technology. Stained glass required skilled craftsmen. New technology also requires expertise. Technology requires ongoing creativity. The creative arts director will manage all media and technology and also act as a liaison to the worship pastor and operations pastor.
Church size: 1,000+
Reports to the operations pastor or worship pastor

The Boomer Director:

The first wave of Boomers hitting retirement age is less than two years away. The senior population is expected to grow more than 35 percent between 2010 and 2020. The problem is that there is a large generational divide between the Builders and the Boomers, as big a divide as the one between Generation X and the Boomers. The ministry that reached the Builders will not reach the Boomers. And it all starts with the name. Boomers do not like to be called “seniors,” so if you think that your existing seniors ministry will attract Boomers, you’re probably not going to reach many Boomers.
Church size: 800+
Reports to the chief of staff, spiritual growth pastor, or senior pastor

The Spiritual Growth Pastor:

Many churches are becoming more intentional about creating a discipleship process, aligning all programs and ministries to fit a simple discipleship structure. What these churches are finding out is keeping this simple structure in place requires a skilled spiritual leader. In many ways the birth of the spiritual growth pastor is a rebirth of the more recognizable education pastor. The spiritual growth pastor, however, has the additional responsibility of moving the entire congregation through the discipleship process and eliminating anything that creates congestion.
Church size: 800+
Reports to the senior pastor

Sam S. Rainer III is president of Rainer Research and senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Murray, KY.


One Response to “New staff positions to emerge this decade”

  1. Well thought out Sam. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, my family and I attended a church that added an “executive pastor” who was much like your “operations pastor”. He was a minister in his early twenties, went into the business world for 30 years and was called to ministry. His business leadership experience helped him lead the administration of the church.

    At 51, I’m praying about a call into ministry myself and believe that roles like “chief of staff” or “operations” pastorships would be perfect for those who have been in business leadership.

    Thanks for your vision on this roles.

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