When I was a seminary student, it was understood that the vast majority of students would go on to pastoral ministry in a parish setting. Most of these individuals would spend all of their years in ministry as solo pastors serving smaller congregations. In recent years, the expectations have shifted significantly. Only about half of all recent seminary graduates enter parish ministry. For those who do enter this form of ministry, increasing numbers serve in large, mega, and/or multi-site churches as one of several staff pastors. During this season of change in the church in general and in larger congregations, the position of Executive Pastor has become more common.
As someone who is always asking “so what” and “what next” regarding church, I am intrigued by the development of a position known as Pastor of Innovation. DJ Chuang recently blogged about what “may be emerging is a new role in the church: pastor of innovation.” In that post, he listed several pastors with roles focused on innovation including:
- Bobby Gruenewald, Pastor, Innovation Leader of LifeChurch.tv,
- Kenny Jahng, Pastor of Media & Innovation of Liquid Church, and
- Lucy Arellano, Director of Innovation & Creativity at Courageous Church.
Innovation on the congregational level is essential. Regardless of congregational size, staffing for innovation is critical. While many congregations are not large enough to hire a full-time pastor focused on innovation, all congregations are capable of prioritizing innovation through strategic staffing and by incorporating innovation into all elements of congregational life.
- On a priority scale of 1-10, where would you rank innovation in the life of your local congregation?
- On your pastoral staff, what pastor (or pastors) is (are) tasked with overseeing innovation? How is that responsibility defined? evaluated?