Staffing the Church in 2020

Sam Rainer

March 25, 2010

The latest issue of Church Executive recently hit the stands.  It has some great articles in it—you can subscribe here. Below is an excerpt from my article in the issue.

If your church remains healthy, then the staff structure will probably look much different in 2020 than it does right now. Church leaders will work for long periods of time to implement new visions for their congregations. They will labor for years to simplify the structures of their churches. They will lead their churches to adopt new discipleship processes and streamline programs. Yet one of the most needed changes that is often left untouched is the staff.

As churches move forward, existing staff structures are often left in place. Healthy churches that progress, however, will inevitably create positions for people who will champion the new vision. Over the next ten years, we are likely to see several different staff roles emerge in the church. What might these positions look like? While a small number of churches have created some of these roles, allow me to share with you some positions that may grow in popularity by 2020.

The Network Administrator. Multi-site churches are here to stay. In the next ten years they will become more numerous. They will not be limited to megachurches in densely populated areas. More multi-site churches will spring up in rural areas. Smaller churches will start new sites. As a result, there will be a need for someone to handle the administration between campuses. The network administrator will coordinate clarity of communication, movement of people, alignment of programs, and focus of vision across multiple campuses.

The Multicultural Children’s Director. The United States will become minority white by 2042, but preschools will become minority white by 2021. This diversity will not be limited to large, urban areas. Diversity is spreading out and getting younger. The children’s director is not a new position, but almost every church will need a children’s director who knows how to minister in the new heterogeneous society.

The Chief of Staff. It has been the key position for top political leaders for some time. Now many CEOs are seeking a confidant, gatekeeper, and strategic consultant in a person who is chief of staff. While the title will probably not carry over to the church, many larger churches will hire an experienced pastor to help the senior pastor deal with staff, sticky situations, and logistics. From answering emails to fielding questions from the media, the chief of staff must think like and understand the personality of the senior pastor.

The Creative Arts Director. Big screens are the new stained glass windows. Stained glass was used in the Middle Ages to communicate the gospel to a mainly illiterate society. Big screens help communicate the gospel to a highly visual culture. Both are technological innovations. The difference is the flexibility and changeability of today’s technology. Stained glass required skilled craftsmen. New technology also requires expertise. Stained glass windows are created once and are a permanent fixture in the church. Technology requires ongoing creativity. The creative arts director will manage all media and technology and also act as a liaison to the worship pastor and operations pastor.

The Boomer Director. The first wave of Boomers hitting retirement age is less than two years away. The senior population is expected to grow over 35% between 2010 and 2020. The problem is that there is a large generational divide between the Builders and the Boomers—as big a divide as the one between Generation X and the Boomers. The ministry that reached the Builders will not reach the Boomers. And it all starts with the name. Boomers do not like to be called “seniors,” so if you think that your existing seniors ministry will attract Boomers, you’re probably not going to reach many Boomers.

There’s a few more I mention in the article. Click here to read it, and then stop back by here to let me know your comments.

16 comments on “Staffing the Church in 2020”

  1. Nate says:

    Great stuff Sam! Been a fan of your thoughts before, but I love that youre lookinh To 2020…it’s scary how fast were changing, but very exciting!

  2. I see these staff positions already emerging from new staff structures, especially in larger churches. i see the xp of ministry/chief of staff role taking on even more importance as churches multiply in movements via church planting and multi-venue/multi-site. our church has also had a “boomer pastor” (we call it second half) for 5+ years, and this will be even more critical as our churches grow younger and the future generations need godly role models and mentors. the boomer generation will also begin to have more discretionary time to be deployed in mission, local and global. and ministry to boomers looks much, much different from our traditional “senior adult ministries.” one other key role that I see developing as churches grow on one campus or many via multi-site is the pastor/director of leadership development. it will become even more critical for churches to have a structured leadership development program for leader multiplication.

    thanks sam for your great research and intuitive conclusions.

  3. Very good article Sam. Churches would be wise to take your observations seriously. I also like your creative titles for the positions. They are very descriptive and accurately stated. Our church will benefit from your tips. Thanks for passing on what God is teaching you.

  4. Zach Terry says:

    Insightful and interesting. I’m going to have our staff look at this as we consider future posistions.

  5. Lindy Lowry says:

    Sam, so informative and based on what I’m hearing right on. Good insights. Glad I saw the Tweet post from your dad and took time to read this. The title of the blog compelled me to click.

  6. Ahkeem Morella says:

    As always my friend, your posts are spot on. This one was especially insightful. I am so glad you are writing for Church Executive. I will be following their articles closely now. Keep up the great work. Many with whom I speak see you as one of the most creative church thinkers today.

  7. Vern Sanders says:

    Good info here…
    I think we might also be looking at serving millenials by having a Minister of Texting…

  8. rich says:

    It occurs to me that the brightness and creativity of projected technology puts us in danger of un-simplifying Christian life by wrongly prioritizing our presentation tools. Stained glass windows were, as you sited, illustrated teachings to benefit folks who would best learn from pictures, since they were illiterate. But now, stained glass windows are only considered curious antiquities. It was literacy, the printed Bible, that supplanted stained glass as an outreach media. Literacy. Our new “stained glass” media, projectors and theatrical lighting, may not be aiding the mass of believers with their need of Gospel-literacy the way we hope it will. Between our church techno-shows and the proliferation of English language Bible “translations”, we had better become holy-careful that we do not effectively de-process the 21st century Church back into the illiterate dark ages when stained glass was a visionary idea.

  9. Greg Ligon says:

    Sam – good insight. I agree especially with the multi-site point person that you identify as a network administrator. Our experience with the multi-site churches we have worked with at Leadership Network is that churches typically hire for this position when they move toward starting their third campus. The specific responsibilities change from church to church but the common theme is that the person in this role wakes up and goes to sleep thinking multi-site. We are also beginning to see the boomer pastor role surface. Some churches, including Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock call this role “release pastor.” Thanks for your work.

  10. Haylii says:

    Hi Sam, what a creative and well researched article.

    I am a Fashion Futures: Trend Forecasting & Prediction student in the UK and have just started a research module that I have chosen to base around the topic of marriage (people are put off by the ‘fashion’ bit but it’s not all about dresses!). I would love to hear your views on a couple of questions I have, especially as you have a research background and obviously have an intuitive instict for the future. Also, it would be really interesting to see how British and American religious trends may or may not be affected by cultural influences.

    Any help at all would be so greatly appreciated Sam.

    And thanks again for such an interesting post!

  11. Sam Rainer says:

    Haylii – my email address is If you’ll email me, I’ll give you my contact info. Thanks.

  12. Jason Powell says:

    Your going to confuse anyone familiar with IT job titles by reusing Network Administrator … Just sayin’ 🙂

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