Maximizing My Time as a NextGen Pastor
Gina McClain @gina_mcclain
Year one it’s new. Year 2 you built some equity. Year 3 some things you can’t get passed but need to deal with. Something in you needs to change.
Relational challenge and in year 3 you wonder if you’re cut out for the position. Year 4 looking around because you wonder if something else would fit better?
Tend to redefine ourselves as leaders every 4 years.
“Your role as NextGen leader has more to do with WHO you are than WHAT you do. And who you are, has to do with what God is doing.”
#1 Know Your First Team
Peers vs. Direct-reports
Your teams need different things from you. You could be booths on the group, leading ministry directly.
What are you advocating for in the grand scheme of things? When we know our first team it ensures we align with ministry leaders across the church. This brings unity and breaks silos. Understand where your objectives fit with the overall mission of the church.
You have the ability and authority to bring peace in situations between silos.
Schedule consistent time with your First Team.
#2 Prioritize Objectives
Working On vs. Working In
Working on it is a lot harder but at your seat, you have to spend time working on your ministry. How much of your time on your calendar is spent working ON your ministry?
Set annual, quarterly, and weekly objectives.
Set weekly objectives every Monday.
Calendar time for evaluation and realignment – out of the office
Track your progress to see your wins.
Can I schedule afternoons to work on ministry? Change locations to work ON ministry. Coffee shop. Write down specifics so you don’t give that time away to other things.
Calling the Play vs. Running the Play
Not just what to do, but how to do it.
How = action that moves toward objectives.
How can be collaborative?
Show them how to do it vs. leverage the influence of your team to figure out how. Connect the problem with the right person to help us resolve it.
Playbooks: A great tool or resource that gives the How, What, and Why to do a job. How to be a coach playbook. You can’t work on the ministry unless you get out of the ministry weeds.
Calendar your objectives every Monday.
Clean it up. Remove meetings not producing what needs to be produced.
“Alignment is not created by new vision. But by restarting that which you lead toward over and over again.” Sam Roberts, Life Church Directional Leadership Team.
Champion those you lead around the nextgen ministry.
Your job is to be the bass drum
#3 Meet with a Purpose
Vision: alignment & setting source
Tactical: event/project drive or ministry-specific
Coaching: leader development & problem-solving.
Know WHO sets the agenda.
Plan for what decelerates vs accelerates
Purge or repurpose regularly.
Let them know they are setting the agenda.
Start with the question “What’s on your mind?”
What challenges are you facing?
Where are you winning?
What questions do you have?
If you bring answers to these 3 questions then you will maximize our time together.
Book: The Coaching Habit by David Henzel
Review your calendar quarterly & purge/change the unproductive. What meetings do not fit in the categories.
Everything goes on your calendar. You have one life. It can all be tracked in the same place. This also helps with evaluation.
Structure NextGen Staff to Move Further Faster
Dan Doerksen @DanDoerksen
Churches took their preexisting model of staffing and then called it nextgen. If you do this, you’re just going to be frustrated. Dan restructured and no longer had the traditional roles within his nextgen staff team.
You don’t have to have a large staff to become innovative in your staffing…you don’t even need to have staff. Hire less on age group and more on their gifting and role. Empower them to do this 90% of their time.
Gift-based hiring structure.
You’re here because you have problems to solve. How do you balance the tension and frustration in the nextgen ministry?
A very expensive nice tool sits in the box if you don’t know how to use it. The structure is this expensive tool.
If you don’t know what to do with the tool it’s very dangerous to toy with. You need a good deal of wisdom and insight to pull off these staff changes.
Structure = organizing people (org chart)
The structure is a tool that addresses your most stressful problems; people problems. The structure is personal.
Every tool has its uses. This tool of structure can address these scenarios:
You have great people…in the wrong roles.
Your staff coordinates well…but only with their own teams.
You have a highly creative team …but their quality is “meh”
Your team values excellence…but never innovates.
You have a new vision and strategy…but nothing changes.
Why do you find yourself in a silo? Not silo by nature, but simply doing your job description. This is a structure and culture issue.
Assumption #1: We need more staff.
There are so many boxes on the org chart and my name is on all of them. Maybe you do need more staff or maybe it’s a structure issue.
Book: Mark DeVries. Sustainable Children’s Ministry: From Last-Minute Scrambling to Long-Term Solutions.
1 FTE/50 kids, 1 FTE/75 teens
For every child that shows up, churches spend $1000 per kid per year. Salaries and budget combined.
Instead of trying to fill all the seats on the bus, maybe you need to rearrange the seats. If your structure is a mess, adding another person will only increase the complexity.
Assumption #2. We need better staff.
Is it really a people issue? Maybe it is, but maybe it’s not. Let’s back up and ask, “Is this the person or the structure they are working in?”
Cognitive bias: Inside a situation, you see the factors. Outside looking in, you blame the situation. If your team member is failing, it will be tempting for you on the outside looking in to think it is their failure. We need to own how our staff is performing. We create the context to which they work. We have to look to ourselves first not them.
Dance floor analogy – DeVries and Safstorm
Dancer rolls her ankle by going through the floor. No one repairs it but simply brings in a backup dancer and keeps going. Maybe your team members aren’t good dancers, but it’s awfully hard to get better when the floor is broken. Fix the floor first and then you’ll know what you’re working with.
Assumption #3. Our church is unique.
You need to be a big church…small church…new church. The principles of how to structure will scale and transfer.
Assumption #4. Our church isn’t unique.
You can earn from others, but you can’t copy and paste.
Sports analogy: teams don’t structure like different teams because they are playing different games. What is the strategy for your city within your culture?
All dials and levers need to be adjusted together. When you change your strategy you need to change your structure.
Assumption #5. We have to staff by age.
Ex. If you want to reach teens, you hire a youth pastor.
A “Divisional Structure” GM This is one way to structure your team. It because of the norm but it doesn’t mean it has to be. Maybe you don’t have to staff by age.
Assumption #6: One person at the top.
Unity of command; there has to be one person leading.
It’s not wrong but it is optional.
Jay Galbraith’s Research: “When the challenges a corporation faces are so complex that they require a set of skills too broad to be possessed by any one individual.” Think outside the box.
Freedom and authority to reach as many folks as possible.
Core elements of Structure (dials on the tool of structure)
Job Design: “Who is responsible for what?”
Product based-what is the product the church puts out in programs or services. Program based model.
Demographic Based or market-based. What are my target market and staff around that market?
Advantages: you can focus. One person with complete ownership of the process from front to back. The downside, a strong tendency to silos and misalignment. Multiple people doing the planning, marketing, and repletion of work instead of learning from each other.
Function-Based. What are the same things across the ministry? Create that list and you have the suctions. Teaching, worship, tech, design, recruitment… take that ruction and turn that into a job description for all the miniseries in nextgen.
Leader development and on-boarding from preschool to college.
Programming development. Worship, props, teaching.
Process-Based: step by step processed could be done by staff. Recruitment person, on-boarding person. A person for each of the process steps. Could be a staff member for first-time guests and one for members.
Authority: “Who can make what decision?”
You can give too much or too little authority.
Don’t handcuff your people so they feel like what they are doing is insignificant. Loads of leadership potential but put into a helper role without authority.
Span of Control: “How many people do you oversee?”
How wide is the org chart? With 3 people you can do a lot of training and coaching. If you want to grow you need to add layers. How does a person on level 5 talk to a person on level 2?
A wide structure has less control but more autonomy. The people doing the ministry can make decisions.
Coordination: “How does everyone communicate?”
How do you tie it all together so silo’s don’t form?
The structure is all about communication paths.
Next Steps #1 – Know your current structure.
Do a task inventory. Do a time inventory. Track hours and know what they do and in how long. Find out what’s working and not working. If you could create your own job description, what would it be? If you could have any job, what would it look like?
Next Steps #2 – Plan for Growth
Stay flexible and figure out what can happen if you grow. How do you widen your span? Don’t get locked into one model.
Next Steps #3 – Learn how to lead change
If you don’t think the structure is personal, try to change it. If you remove a title, it becomes personal. People don’t like change if they don’t understand it.
Read: Leading Change Without Losing It – Carey Nieuwhof.
Read: Leading Change – John Kotter
See the connections behind the connections. Let’s be brave enough and bold enough to look at our structure.
“Let’s discover the structure for 2025 not maintain the structure of 1985.”
What is the strategy for today’s Church and what structure do we need to meet the needs of today’s world?
Hiring, Onboard,, and Equip NextGen Staff for Success
Building the right team is one of the most important things you do in your role as a nextgen leader.
Get the right people on the bus and get them situated in the right seat.
Hiring: Finding the right people
“People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” Jim Collins
“The secret to my success is that we have gone to great lengths to hire the best people in the world.” Steve Jobs
“Define the position” Some folks get this wrong by listing tasks, instead focus on objectives. What’s the best profile and personality type for the position? Would this person thrive under MY leadership? Sometimes you need someone with a high level of maturity to handle the tough issues of ministry. Do you need someone who is trained in childhood development? Management, Pastoral, or Education experience. You can’t just borrow a job description from someone down the street, assess what you need.
Generate a list of potential candidates. Sit in a quiet room and make a list. Maybe the person is already on your team or in a volunteer role. Who would be ideal in this role? Dream about those who you would love to have do the job. Don’t say someone’s “no” for them. You can also post to job boards. Begin to draw on your network and fish for people. Put the word out there and send some direct emails. I’ve heard about you. I’ve dreamed about someone for this team and you might be the best fit.
Step 1: Email initial questions
Send everyone the initial list of questions. Few key questions that would identify candidates.
What do you know about NCC? Why dod you want to work here?
What aspects of ministry do you find most fulfilling and meaningful?
Why have you chosen ministry to children and their families?
What is your philosophy of Family Ministry?
What is one of your most memorable experiences where you saw God move in the life of a young person?
Share with us a difficult experience you have encouraged in ministry and how you navigated it.
How has your experience prepared you for this position? Why do you feel as though you would be a qualified candidate?
What has been your experience in developing volunteer leaders? What about managing staff?
Do you know anyone that currently attends? Would they recommend you for this position and may we be in touch with them?
Step 2: 15-minute screening interview
This will feel incomplete. Quickly get to know you.
What types of ministry do you hope to be doing in the next 5-10 years?
What are you not good at and don’t enjoy doing professionally?
Tell me about someone you currently disciple.
Tell me the names of your last three bosses and how would they rate your performance on a scale of 1-5.
Step 3: In-depth Interview.
They will send covenant and theological questions. They will be walked through in written and interview.
View of baptism, women in ministry, spiritual gifts, sexuality, how to handle conversations, are there any parts of the statement of faith that made you uncomfortable?
Step 4: Group/Panel Interview (zoom call)
Staff unity matters in culture and making sure they fit.
Step 5: Reference Check
People get reference checks wrong. To catch red flags so why give someone who would share that?
Ask: How can we support this person best?
The person mentioned they struggled with _ will you tell me more about that? Open-ended questions
Step 6: Visit
Pastoral level position.
Onboarding – Direct their Energy
Discovery (days -30) – commit to a listening and learning posture.
Learn the system.
Know the history
Develop (days 31-60) – establish a foundation and start building. Beginning to look at team development.
Design (days 61-90) – start adjusting and implementing. Establish their own rhythm for the team. Identify systems for improvement. Implement and experiment.
Peter Drucker says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
A healthy culture will keep your staff around a long time.
A set of shared values and goals that characterize our organization.
What do you want your staff to know and live out? What shapes our ministry? Are we connecting kids with caring adults?
What will you do to keep your team aligned and healthy?
Values help determine who you are about.
Keep your people aligned
We have a big God, we take big risks and we expect big results.
Attitude – we live on the solution side of every issue.
We exist for the lost and the least of these.
Culture is a combination of what you expect and what you allow.” Craig Groeschel
Vision Cast Continually
“Vision focuses on what does not yet exist, but should.” George Barna
Get the right people in the right room to solve almost every problem. Get on the same page.
Not training alone.
Evaluate, where are they currently. Where do they need to be going?
Equip. Create a plan of where you want them to go.
Empower. Give them responsibilities so they can grow in that area. Give authority .
Don’t forget to encourage on an ongoing basis and pray for your team.
Build A Comprehensive NextGen Strategy For Families
If we started from scratch, knowing what we know now, what would we do?
Think Orange (Soon-sh)
When Parents Win (Fall)
4 Levels of Parent Involvement
Parents who are are searching for an answer.
Outside your church but open to attending
Interested in becoming better parents.
Parents who are participating in church
Entry-level experience with your church taking steps to influence kids spiritually.
Parents who are applying a strategy
Committed to partnering with the church and being responsible for spiritual leadership at home.
Parents who are leading in ministry
Fully committed families who are leading at home and leading at church
Searching > Participating > Applying > Leading
It’s good having parents at every point on this spectrum.
“The goal is not to get parents to do everything, but to engage them to do something more.” Reggie
5-Part Strategy for Parting with Parents
#1 Small Group Leaders
Connect kids and students to WHO
“Someone who chooses to invest in the lives of a few to encourage authentic faith.”
Applying and Leading
Leading SGL’s to show up outside the church
Help SLG’s connect with parents
SGL + Parent Open House event (MVP Box)
Small group leader + Parent breakfast/lunch
Small group leaders are your best partnership with parents. The best strategy in the world isn’t worth as much as an invested SGL.
Inform parents HOW
Searching & Participating
Email (Inform Parents) Consider how many emails and if they have more kids.
Text (Remind Parents) 98% read – 1 or 2 a week and a reminder to lead faith at home.
Instagram (Celebrate Experiences) 5x engagement per post compared to FB.
Facebook (Resource Parents) Do it consistently.
Website (Help Visitors) How do I know where to go? How do I check my kids in?
Apply & Learn
Feedback Loops (Surveys, emailed questions, etc.)
Equip parents with WHAT
Searching & Participating
Parent Cue App
Parent Cue Blog
Parent Cue Podcast
Applying & Leading
Bibles / Bible App
Help parents celebrate WHEN
Searching & Participating
Transition Events (Preschool > Elementary > Middle School > High School)
Milestone Events – Core (Baby Dedication, Salvation, Baptism, Graduation)
Applying & Leading
Milestone Events – Extended (Bible Presentation, Preparing for Adolescence, Identity, Integrity, Adulthood)
Help people celebrate something
Help move people somewhere
Help parents replicate and experience
Connect parents to WHO
Searching & Participating
Small group for parents
Small group parent gatherings
New family orientation
Applying & Leading
Parent/Child small group experiences – Treasured
Make Your Plan
Searching > Participating > Applying > Leading
Less difficult > More difficult
Less time > More time
Less money > More money
Less options > More options
Less transactional > More relational
Less general > More individual
Less anonymity > More accountability
In short…it becomes more personal
This will always feel like EXTRA.
Partnering with parents is a MARATHON not a sprint.
If everything is a priority NOTHING is.
Every church is UNIQUE and will not prioritize the same way.
A NextGen strategy for families should work with a church-wide DISCIPLESHIP STRATEGY for adults.
“You teach what you know but you reproduce who you are.” Howard Hendricks
Parents replicate who they are in their kids.
Disciple the parents, disciple the kids
Gather a TEAM of people to help
Work together to MAKE your plan
Be FREE from the pressure to do everything
Do what makes sense for YOUR church and YOUR context NOW.