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Pastor-centered churches

A reader writes: “I’m aware of the movement away from boards and committees in church life–a movement that I believe was first put forward from non-denominational churches such as Willow Creek. This is a quite different way of viewing church life and governance, but I’m not sure how it works. Is this something your book addresses?”

My reply:

“You’re right that there’s a big trend toward pastor-centered churches where the board is quite secondary. I’m not sure Willow Creek really fits into that category–they have quite a strong board, I believe, though the test of that won’t come till the next change of senior pastors. But Rick Warren, Bill Easum, and Tom Bandy are pretty clear advocates of a senior pastor who “casts vision” on his or her own authority and also directs the daily work.

“The goal of my governance work, including the book, is to gain some of the purpose-driven, permission-giving virtues of the pastor-centered church while at the same time strengthening the role of the board and congregation in making governance decisions. I’m happy to have a staff-led, hierarchical structure for getting things done (ministry) so long as there is also a robust system for engaging leaders and congregants in discernment, vision-setting, and holding the “doers” accountable for their performance (governance).

“You would like my book, I think. You might also find Susan Beaumont’s work of interest. Her book Inside the Large Congregation has quite a bit to offer mid-sized congregations also.”