Pastoral Placement – FIT!

December 24, 2018 by  
Filed under Leadership

FIT is one of the most significant and crucial aspects of Staffing in the local church. The Church must fit the man and the man fit the church. What constitutes FIT?

Each local church is unique. FIT is comprised of theological, cultural, educational, economic, ethnic, denominational and spiritual maturity issues just to name a few of the components. Optimal compatibility in each area is the ideal but is often not realized. The greater the correspondence and the greater number of areas where FIT is realized, the higher the probability of harmonious and effective ministry. As the number of FIT issues declines, the dysfunction and ineffectiveness increases. This article is primarily addressing Pastoral Staff, Elders so I begin with a brief examination of the 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 passages dealing with the requirements for an Elder.

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. (1Tim. 3:1)

The first operative verb is ‘aspire’. This literally means to ‘stretch out the hand or to take hold of’. In the first century it was clearly and irrefutably understood that to serve as an Elder required sacrifice. Intense, costly, and perpetual sacrifice. Persecution was often the reward for fulfilling the duties of this office in the church. This speaks to the motivation of one entering this office.

The second operative verb is ‘desire’. This speaks of an intense and continuous passion for the office and all that is required to fulfill this function effectively. The root word speaks of a swelling. In the book of Revelation (Rev. 12:12; 14:8) this word describes wrath. It clearly speaks of an intensity that transcends the mundane and casual. An Elder must be a man of high intensity and robust energy. He approaches ministry with a ‘peddle to the metal’ mentality. He understands that the things he does have eternal significance. If either of these qualities is absent, it is reasonable to conclude that the man seeking to function as an Elder without them is unqualified to do so.

FIT and Initial Calling

Churches have a dismal track record on calling Pastors. The process is truncated and often driven by expedience. They seldom examine the factors that matter most. The profile is often a weekend visit, preach a sermon or two and meet the family. No one preaches their worst sermon, not even an average sermon. Further, preaching is merely one factor. Character is first and foremost. Leadership is ever more critical in our rapidly morphing culture. The church checks a couple first level references (the man gives you those most favorable to his securing the position). There should always be at least three (3) levels of reference checks completed. The most accurate predictor of future leadership behavior is – – – past leadership behavior. What this man has done in the past is very probably what he will do in the future. Count on it. Preaching and Leadership are not synonyms. Verbal skill does not necessarily make a man a good leader. A flawed call process is failure number 1.

FIT and Ministry Descriptions

 Churches call men to fulfill specific ministry roles. Both the man and the ministry change over the years. What emerges is a mismatch. Ministry is not completed with excellence and the man finds himself intensely unhappy and unfulfilled in the role he must now occupy. What he came to do is no longer the profile he must fill. If he has not grown and expanded his horizons, that is a problem. If he has and the ministry profile has not changed, that is a problem. Whichever scenario emerges, it constitutes a problem.

FIT and Numerical Growth

 A healthy and effective ministry attracts new people. The size of the congregation changes and the number of ministry venues expands. Quite often men are assigned roles as a result of this growth for which they are unqualified or have no desire to fill. Their attitude is less than noble. This bad attitude seeps into the transaction of ministry tasks. There simply must be a more strategic and intentional approach to staffing than ‘warm bodies to fill open positions’.

FIT and Accountability

 Many statisticians claim that the number one cause of decline in the church in America is the absence of clear operative purpose. When there is a lack of clarity as to what is expected there is simply no effective way to exercise accountability. What is not clearly defined cannot be accurately measured. This factor makes accountability impossible. For effective accountability to be consistently applied there must be clear definition of task, a systematic metric and timely application of these principles. Accountability should be the examination of ministry effectiveness that leads to celebration of a task performed well. This is seldom the case.

FIT and 360 Evaluation

 Evaluation is almost non-existent in most churches. If it is done at all it is an annual event and usually associated with compensation issues. Evaluation should be accomplished quarterly if not monthly. This is done using a well crafted ministry description with a Likerd Scale metric process. The results provide a clear portrait of performance for both the one being evaluated and the church at large. When done with greater frequency the adjustments that are necessary are minimal and have not caused a year long decline in ministry effectiveness.

FIT and Applied Leadership

 Leadership in the NT is a Team. There is not a single NT church that has solo leadership Polity. With that said, there must be an individual that exercises comprehensive and consistent oversight of ministry. This means that when there are deficiencies they are addressed in a timely and equitable manner. There is abundant affirmation for task performed well and there is appropriate adjustments incorporated when there is ineffectiveness. If the ineffectiveness persists, there is action taken to remove the offending Team member from ministry. This requires emotional intelligence, courage and skill. It also requires a larger Leadership Team that will support and stand with the “executioner”. Failure to engage in this comprehensive oversight and action tells all parties that malfeasance and mediocrity is acceptable here. That is lethal to the future of any ministry.

FIT Summary

 FIT means that the individual is capable of and desires to fulfill the ministry tasks they are assigned. If no individual exists with that body, then a search must be undertaken to secure such a person. This requires resources and a clear ministry profile complete with a metric that permits both the organization and the individual Staff members to know they are fulfilling their role(s). When this is true the organization has every reason to accomplish all aspects of the Great Commission. When this is not true there is no rational basis to expect this to be true.

Men outgrow the ministry and ministry may outgrow the man. Both are possibilities. What was a FIT 6-8 years ago may not be today. John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Chapter 1 The Law of The Lid provides helpful insight on this matter. Vigilance and frequent assessment and evaluation prevent the reality of either eventuality from ‘surprising’ the organization or the individual staff members serving within that organization.

What kind of FIT do you have?

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