A dialogue continues among researchers about the differences between managers and leaders. It is clear that there is overlap between the two roles. It is equally clear that some managers do not lead, and some leaders do not manage. A helpful (but ultimately inadequate) distinction is that managers deal with maintaining consistency in the here and now, while leaders work to change the future.
Pastors of congregations hold both roles (among many others). They lead. They manage. There is an overabundance of material that addresses the pastor as leader. Less research has been done about the pastor as manager. The managerial side of pastoring can be frantic on any given day – the pace can switch from comfortable to chaotic with one phone call.
Most people understand and respect this aspect of ministry. What is less known is how fragmented daily activities are. Much pastoral management can occur in short conversations and activities – 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there. Quick, hopscotch exchanges are normative in daily management of the church.
The management role of a pastor surfaces in many different functions. Here are a few of my anecdotal observations:
Liaison: Pastors are the spokespeople and representatives for their churches in the community. They should work to make new contacts, connect with other leaders, and communicate a positive message on behalf of the congregation.
Mediator: While pastors should not be expected to handle every conflict within the church, they do handle sudden crises. Pastors that are good managers step in at appropriate times when disturbances occur between members or with outside people.
Juggler: Pastors are expected to lead many teams comprising of laity and staff. Planning appropriately requires pastors to juggle several meetings and exchanges with different people.
Observer: Pastors should monitor the health of the church. They track the pulse of the congregation. Part of this observer role requires weekly knowledge of relevant church metrics – how is involvement in small groups trending? How is the worship service attendance tracking? What are ministry teams doing?
Disseminator: Since pastors touch base with many different groups and segments of the church (probably more so than any other person), they are in the unique position of knowledge gatekeeper. Part of managing a congregation requires pastors to disseminate information acquired from one group to another group. They help connect people and tasks for more efficient ministry.
The list is not exhaustive. What other thoughts do you have?