No Senior Pastor

What would a UMC church look like without a Senior pastor? Or what if a UMC had two senior pastors? Do you think that would help a church or hurt it?

What would it look like if someone asked a parishioner, “Who is your pastor?” And the parishioner replied, “which one?”

JP (our revival speaker) told me to go and read this book, The Starfish and the Spider after we started talking about church and organizations, and the Korean pastors we know.

JP was talking about having a church without a senior pastor. There will be a person that would run the meetings and administration, but does it always have to be same person?

He was summarizing the book saying that starfish and the spider have similar physical characteristics. But if you crush the head of the spider, it’s dead. It can no longer function. With a starfish, you don’t know exactly where the head is. And if you cut of a part of that starfish, the starfish will replace the missing part by regenerating. Simply put, it’s not that easy to destroy a starfish.
If we were to finally capture Bin Laden, and do away with him, it’s not going to destroy Al Qaeda. New leaders will emerge, and the organization will still be strong.
But many churches, when the senior pastor leaves, the church may have a hard time bouncing back.
This really challenged me to look at the way we do ministry. I think it’s a difficult concept to embrace, especially in the Korean church. Simply (and very generally) put, the Korean senior pastor has too much pride. And sharing responsibilities (and even the pulpit) is a lot easier said than done for many Korean churches.

But what do you think?
Do you think a church without a senior pastor would do better than the traditional church hierarchy?

3 thoughts on “No Senior Pastor

  1. in some ways, the umc should function as a laity driven church. the mormons work without the senior pastor as we generally know it. both though have structures where, and people give, power goes to a “higher” positioning person. it doesn’t have to go that route though, we just allow it to work that way. i think it is natural tendency to give the power you have to someone you think is more responsible for it.

  2. There are a few denominations/ sects that have a plurality of leadership, whether board of elders with no pastors, or a pastoral team without a solo lead pastor. Plymouth Brethren is one that comes to mind. And those churches work just fine, but it is a different church culture and governance. From examples in most cultures and societies, few people understand how to share the power of leadership with more than one person.

  3. Gavin and DJ-
    I know that umc should function as a laity driven church, but from my experience at Korean UMCs, that’s rarely the case. in my church, I have to actually go and ask my SPRC (through my senior pastor) to give me a yearly evaluation. and during the evaluation, it’s not much different from when i was interviewing the job… and i think it’s because our culture puts the senior pastor on a huge pedestal therefore, many korean churches do not function as a UMC should.

    you guys actually gave me more to reflect on. thanks so much for your comments.

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