Saturday Afternoon Book Review: Effective Staffing for Vital Churches

On most Saturday afternoons, I share a review of the most recent book I’ve read.To see previous books I’ve reviewed, go here. This week’s book is Effective Staffing for Vital Churches (kindle version) by Bill Easum and Bill Tenny-Brittian. In it, the authors seek to make the point that separates churches in terms of health and effectiveness can be found in their staffing cultures. Who they hire, how they hire staff, how that staff spends their time, how that staff does in terms of developing other leaders vs. doing all the ministry.

According to the authors, here’s what a staff does:

So what’s the purpose of staff? Simply put, the role of staff is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12 ESV). Staff creates an environment in which leaders at every level are equipped and encouraged to replicate the DNA of the church by living out their spiritual gifts. God built the church on the premise that every Christian has a gift and a calling to share with the world. It’s called the “priesthood of believers.” The role of staff is to ensure this happens.

Even before reading this book, I’ve made specific changes to how and who I spend my time with. The authors of this book largely backed this up with their research. A lead pastor should spend the majority of their time with:

  1. Younger, emerging leaders.
  2. No more then 4 staff members that report to them.
  3. Guests to the church.
  4. Those who don’t know Jesus.

Here’s why:

Effective coaches invest heavily in those who not only show promise, but who are committed to the leadership journey. That doesn’t mean the coach neglects those with less promise or commitment, but with limited time and resources wise leaders invest most heavily where the greatest return can be expected.

I realize how this sounds like it is uncaring or unloving in some way. At the end of the day, this mindset is what is best for the church and fulfills what God has called pastors to.

In a church under 500, the authors say a lead pastor should spend 70-80% of their people time in these areas to see the most effectiveness. Notice, this isn’t all their time, just the majority of their time. Many pastors fight against this and the authors point out, this is one of the reasons church aren’t as effective: leaders don’t hand ministry off to other leaders.

What I appreciated most about the book were the sections where the authors laid out the transitions a leader and a church must make as the church grows. This has been something I’ve been trying to learn more and more about as Revolution grows. What I did when we were a church of 50 people, then 150, now 250 and then what it looks like at 500 and beyond. One of the things the authors pointed out is many leaders and churches are not willing to change what they do or learn new things as the church grows and changes.

Overall, if you are looking for a resource on how a pastor should spend his time, hiring and firing staff, how to deploy staff in an effective way, this is a book worth picking up.