Resurgence roundup, 5/24/13
Fri May 24, 2013
The places grace empowers us
Thu May 23, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
‘Each next risk is the biggest one’: James MacDonald talks with Mark Driscoll
Wed May 22, 2013
by Mark Driscoll
Tue May 21, 2013
by Amanda Edmondson
From prison to ReTrain: Russell’s story
Mon May 20, 2013
How to Outsource Your Mind: Choosing an Assistant
The last post showed why a pastor should outsource his mind by hiring an assistant. This post will offer some guidance on how to choose a good pastoral assistant.
Basic Requirements for an Assistant
If outsourced properly, your assistant should have at a minimum two basic giftings: adaptability and discernment. These may be the counter to your weaknesses, allowing for a fuller response to the needs of your ministry, or they may be enhancements to the collection of talents and gifts the Lord has given you.
1. Adaptability To Change
Church plants are static in only one area—change. At Mars Hill we have found the only constant in our work here in Seattle (and now Albuquerque) to be never-ending, always-fluctuating change. For assistants, the ability to take the changes that are sure to come and approach them with a correct heart and mind is a priceless gift. An assistant’s job is to build systems to catch as much work from the pastor he serves and to carry out the tasks quickly and efficiently. As the work in the ministry changes, those systems are made obsolete. A correct approach to this inevitability is to simply start from scratch and build new systems if the ones that were created weeks or months ago are now outdated. An incorrect approach is to stubbornly hold onto old systems, now defunct, simply because they are how things have been done. God brings new things into our ministries to test and shape us; to respond to the new issues in the same manner as the old is a foolish way of doing his work and will result in frustrated pastors, assistants, and church members.
An assistant should know who needs to have contact with the pastor served. A proper understanding and sometimes a Spirit-directed knowledge of who is truly in need of the pastor's time is crucial. It is easy for an assistant to read over hundreds of emails and letters and to file each request in its appropriate box: “He needs to read the website,” “She needs to take the membership class,” “They need marital counseling and the pastor I serve doesn't have that responsibility,” “He needs a half-hour phone conversation,” “A simple form email will suffice for these people,” “This guy is Satan and ‘delete’ will work just fine.” The workday continues in this vein because, hey, the systems were built for efficiency and strength of the ministry, so let's use them. In this routine and task-completion mode, discernment is indispensable as the Spirit nudges an assistant toward a particular email that could easily be handled personally by the assistant or directed to another staff person, but is truly meant for the pastor. I have seen this many times at Mars Hill. God has brought many men forward to carry the counseling load for our people and relieve Pastor Mark of this role, so he can focus on the pulpit and future of the church. Yet when I served as his assistant, there were emails that came into his inbox that I knew could easily and quickly be directed to someone else, but the Spirit led me to pass them on to Pastor Mark instead. The fruit that comes from these instances is great and simply confirms that discernment is needed.
Before You Pick Your Assistant
Read A Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard. This title has been highly recommended reading for assistants at Mars Hill Church. "A Message to Garcia" shows a great example of the type of person each pastor should pursue as his assistant. Remember that the job description is written by you. This article is general because the tasks that Mars Hill assistants carry out are specific and tailored to each pastor. For some, the qualifications and job description include budgeting, tech support, and scheduling; for others editing, research, proofreading, and inventory; for others still, project management. The point is that for each pastor a specifically tailored assistant was found and is now leveraged to make the ministry more efficient and sane so that the gospel can go out. If you do not yet have an assistant I would recommend that you squeeze your budget like you haven't before and hire one. The benefits we see at Mars Hill are great. As a member of this church it is good to know that the pastors are working in their giftings and that there are men and women in place to enhance their ministries. These people were hired based on the strengths and weaknesses of each pastor, so the resulting assistants vary in skill, experience, and gifts. There is no cookie-cutter model, so trust and pray that the Lord will bring you the help you need in just the right way. Know that we pray for you and your churches constantly and love being a part of the greater movement God is working out in our country and world.
Assistants: Listen Up
Listen to Humble Service: The Ministry of Timothy. This Mars Hill sermon deals with the topic from a scriptural standpoint and gives a reference point for those seeking to be an assistant. Pastor AJ Hamilton is the Executive Pastor for Mars Hill Church’s Albuquerque campus. You can watch his amazing testimony and read his previous Resurgence posts here.