Yesterday I had the opportunity to be at Cross Point Church in Nashville. Pete had invited several staffers from around Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama to be a part of a round-table discussion with Casey Graham of The Change Group. It was a great conversation with other church leaders and Casey gave some great information on identifying or creating financial “seasons” within the life of your ministry. There were several church planters there and a few churches that had been through some very difficult times. The thought hit me while I was there –

Structure really matters.

I’ve written about it before, but if you are a church planter, you need to seriously consider the structure of your ministry. Everyone has a different view of church structure, but my personal preference is a structure that is lean and created to make decisions quickly.

At Faith Promise, the Pastor is the final authority for decision-making. He is a very strong leader. However, he leads with our Senior Leadership team because he sees the value of the team. We have two groups for accountability: the Elders (non-staff members) hold the pastor accountable and the Leadership Team (non-staff members) add financial and structural accountability. Neither group makes decision but both are a part of the decision-making process. We labor over who should be on those teams so that we get people who are committed to the vision and values of the church and ministry.

If things ever go “south,” we have a plan on how to make decisions. If the Pastor falls, he publicly says that the Executive Pastor will meet with the Elders to lead the church.

People who attend your church need to know the structure and how decisions will be made in the future. If you are starting a church, focus on the structure. In the event that something bad happens, it may change the future of your ministry – in a good way!

How does your structure help or hurt your church?



  1. Ralph on Thursday 20, 2009

    I want to see a cage match pitting Josh “structure” Whitehead against Art “what rules?” Jensen! 😀

  2. Aaron on Thursday 20, 2009

    Ralph, easy one. Josh wins. Art wouldn’t stay in the cage. He would lose by disqualification. He wouldn’t want to be boxed in by the cage!!!! Ha!!!

    What a great balance for our staff though. That is why I love this place. We are better because we stretch each other.

  3. Ralph on Thursday 20, 2009

    Aaron,

    Guess that one will have to remain in the fantasy league!

  4. Art Jensen on Thursday 20, 2009

    Josh, this is really between me and your “readers”, so no offense but I am going to post a blog of my own on your Blog. But I will comment on your post first out of respect to you. My comment to you is I agree, simple enough. In fact I was talking with one of the guys on my team just this week working through a strategy to firm up our structure so we can better serve and care for our people. The illustration I like to use is the “body”. The structure is like the bones, it gives us strength, shape, and support. But equally (possibly more) important are the systems, (the heart, lungs etc…) which tie it all together and keep us alive. Because without the “blood” there is no life; the life is in the “blood”. It is an amazing creation that God has built, all things working together to express the Love of Christ to the world! So I would only add that structure alone is not enough; we need good people also. But I know you know that. So contrary to some “commenter’s” belief we aren’t actually opposed to each other but working together .
    Now to address your readers; So….. Aaron…. Ralph….you think you can get away with talking “trash” in some obscure blog that you don’t think I read religiously!!!
    For the record “structure” and “rules” are two different things. But both are there to serve the people, not the other way around; read Mark 2:18-28: specifically v.27 “ the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” The law was supposed to serve people, but it got corrupted. (Point 1 goes to me). Second, I agree we need structure; but a good structure without good people doesn’t work. However; good people with a mediocre structure still does. (Point 2 goes to me). Next as far as rules go, we all have them and use them when it is convenient for us, we throw out the ones we don’t like or the ones that are inconvenient for us. We use terms like: “they aren’t important; or no one really follows it anyway”. For example did you really stay under the speed limit on the way to work this morning? Convenient. (Point 3 goes to me… I guess I win!). One more point just to push the envelope a little; didn’t Jesus come to save people not to save the rules. Yes He did say He didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it; which is actually another point for me but I’m not counting anymore. Because since the law has been fulfilled we are no longer under it. Didn’t Jesus come to set us “Free”? Didn’t He also say the truth, will set you free? Didn’t Paul say we are no longer under the Law but under Grace? Didn’t Paul also say: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free therefore… do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). I could go on and on because it is throughout the New Testament. But I think/ hope you get my point. Oh… one more last point… Yes Josh is correct we have a good structure in place at FPC and I’m glad we do. In fact, I use it every day. But the real reason FPC is making an impact in the world is because of God, and second because FPC has great people! (Who have come up with a pretty good structure ). If our leaders weren’t who they are we would be in trouble…
    Anyway, no hard feelings Aaron, you know how I feel about you…. And your true allegiance is safe with me.

  5. Aaron on Thursday 20, 2009

    Art, wow, tell me how you really feel. First off, I would never hide smack talk. You should know me better than that! Second, I love you dude. Lastly, I will respond to your point system and self declared win at your blog http://artjensen.org/.

    Not only do we stretch each other as staff we keep each other very humble……can’t you tell!!!!

  6. Ralph on Thursday 20, 2009

    Wow, indeed! Art – Love you, man. I, too, will speak on the other blog. But, is it really about winning and losing, or is it about the journey and the relationships we form along the way? 🙂

  7. Nick Smith on Thursday 20, 2009

    Joshua… Bro!!! saw some inter-blog dialoge between your’s and Art’s and thought I would throw in some thoughts about what I have been learning lately… But before I do, I should point out that I truly believe that your leadership is much needed and vitally contributes to the backbone of Christ’s Bride… The Church… Now for what I’ve been learning…

    “We labor over who should be on those teams so that we get people who are committed to the vision and values of the church and ministry.”

    The above line would indicate that once a structure was chosen everything that follows should be focused on maintaining that chosen structure… But I venture to ask, “what if we get it wrong on the structure?”, “How do we know that our structure lines up biblically?”, and “Is there not a biblical model of how things are to be structured anyway?”. Certainly if we need structure to make mediocre people turn into good people there ought to be some very specific instructions… right????

    The opposite of the above thoughts would be to make everything that follows the setting up of a structure focused on the affectiveness of the chosen structure… Where there is little to no concern about things going “south” because the structure is constantly adapting itself through a process of ongoing refinement created by the yearly/monthly/weekly/dailey/hourly/minutely submission of the stucture to The Father through Jesus…

    I certainly don’t think I’ve got anything figured out here… but I certainly have learned that the moment I think I have everything figured out is the same moment that I unknowingly make myself vulnerable to making poor decisions… So, I guess structure does matter as long as structure isn’t a means to the end…

  8. Josh on Thursday 20, 2009

    Actually, Aaron was the guy that took Art on 🙂

  9. Art Jensen on Thursday 20, 2009

    My bad, I thought you wanted a lively discussion 🙂 Thanks for putting up with my ranting!
    Love you guys !


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