strategy

5 Staff Roles Churches of Over 1,000 Should Add Now

In a recent survey, 66% of church leaders said they believe that when church returns, there will be many differences. [ref]

It would appear that we’re headed towards the next normal. You and I are leading in a season that has drastically changed in a very short period of time. 

Is your staff team designed in such a way that you are ready for the next normal? 

While we pivoted to church online just a few months ago and altered the roles on our teams as a result, we should be thinking through whether we have the right people in the right seats on the bus as we attempt to address the culture that’s in front of us now.

Our teams are going to look different in the coming weeks and months. What changes do you need to be making in order to pivot your team for the newly formed culture we find ourselves in?

One of the highlights of my ministry career has been my experiences at the center of the multisite movement over these last two decades. It’s been fascinating to watch roles that didn’t exist 20 years ago become central to so many churches across the country. Twenty years ago, if anyone had asked what a campus pastor was, we would have assumed you meant someone ministering on a university or college campus. Audio, video, and lighting tech roles have also become commonplace in multisite churches as we realized how important it was for us to digitally replicate our content.

Through the multisite church movement, we’ve seen all kinds of new configurations of what it means to be a pastor in the local church. That shift in culture took 20 years to happen, but the shift that’s taking place now only took 20 days! Because of the rapid pace of this shift, your church may be treading water a little bit as you try to keep up with how your team needs to look in the future.

Here are five new roles that I think your church should consider adding now to respond to the future realities that are coming your way. I’d love to hear your thoughts as we wrestle through what we are dealing with in this next normal.

Development Director

Even before we found ourselves in this post-COVID era, there was an increasing trend towards adding senior team leaders who are responsible for developing a generosity culture within the church. 

A Development Director would help the church leverage all the tools available to encourage people to give back to the mission of the church. They’d be responsible for managing annual campaigns, weekly offering moments, and even core donor relationships.

This role is going to be incredibly important to our churches in the coming years as we deal with a softening economy and the need to bring additional cash onto our balance sheets to respond to future financial changes that may come our way. Having a team member directly associated with raising generosity is an important role for your church to consider in this moment.

Church Online Pastor

This is probably the one that you thought would be at the top of the list. We’re all convinced that we need to do more digital ministry now than ever before. The reality is, we will likely have to manage a prolonged transition between being fully offline and fully in-person and therefore will need to provide a mixed offering of online and offline experiences. 

We all pivoted a few months ago and reassigned people on our team to primarily manage and construct our online experiences. However, as we’re heading into reopening, we will need to move many of those team members back to their previous roles running in-person services. 

Having a senior leader who is responsible for your church online or digital experience will provide the leadership required in this transitory period. It will be more difficult to develop a mixed environment than the solely online experiences that we’ve been offering recently. The transition to digital will be simple in comparison to the stage of needing to offer a mix of online experiences, small group meetings in homes, video driven experiences, and live in-person experiences. Having someone positioned to head that area up will be a key piece of the puzzle as we move into another time of shifting ministry strategies.

Senior Communications Leader

The message is loud and clear. We all need more robust communication strategies that get the right message to the right people at the right time. Gone are the days where we can just assume people will show up on the weekend; we need to find ways to consistently reach out to them and keep our church on their list of priorities.

Having a senior communications leader responsible for understanding the latest trends in Facebook ad segmentation, email list building, or text blast best practices (and how those work together in concert to push the mission of the church forward) is a vitally important piece for us to add into our operations. 

A communications role needs to have a key place at your senior leadership table, and now would be the time for you to add that person to your team.

If your church has an accountant on your team to help manage your money, why don’t you have a communications professional helping you with the important task of communicating with your people? You could choose to do the “money stuff” on your own, but you know that over time you need someone with expertise in that area. Communications is exactly the same. 

Data Scientist

Think about all the data that you have access to as a church. Here are just a few types of data that a church of 1,000 people or more has access to regularly:

  • Church management system
  • Email lists
  • Volunteer lists
  • Facebook analytics
  • YouTube analytics
  • Website analytics

The reality is, most churches are swimming in data that they’re not leveraging. Hiring a data scientist would give us an opportunity to pull that data together in a coherent manner to help us make decisions. We need to go beyond just counting nickels and noses and really drive towards engagement with the information that is available to us. 

For a long time, we’ve been saying that churches need to be looking at engagement, not just attendance, and a core part of understanding engagement is looking at all the ways that people leave a digital footprint as they interact with us. We can leverage that information to make coherent representations or to drive decision making in our churches. A data scientist could help you gain a clear picture of the data you have, and more importantly, would give you an understanding of how to make decisions around that data in the coming years.

Remote Team Members

I get it. We’ve all had enough time on Zoom. 

But what if we looked at future hires by deliberately considering remote team members rather than just looking at the pool of those available within our zip code or from across state? 

Obvious considerations for this would be admin people, graphic designers, or video editors, but you could also look at hiring part-time specialists in communications, connections, or even service programming who don’t work full-time or in-person at your site but could provide a tremendous amount of value and insight for your team going forward.

Instead of hiring a consultant to address one or two issues in this next phase of your journey, you could look instead at hiring remote team members to actually lead your team in the areas that you need help managing. 

This crisis has taught us that remote teams are a valuable way to engage and work together. Now might be the time for you to lean into areas that need leadership and to look at who you might want to add to your leadership team by deliberately searching beyond your immediate community for new team members.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.