By Eric Geiger
Leaders and organizations make decisions all the time. They choose a direction, allocate resources, and execute. Often there are unintended implications, sometimes good and sometimes bad. The unintended implications don’t necessarily reveal themselves immediately but are often more understood as time passes.
In the last 6-8 years, the role of “minister of education” or “discipleship pastor” has been diminishing in many churches. For those unfamiliar with the role, for many years, in churches of 200 or more, a minister of education/discipleship pastor was often hired to lead all the “education” or discipleship ministries of the church. The staff member typically provided direction to the adult groups either directly or through a team and led staff and leaders assigned to other age groups. So in those churches, a kids ministry director/pastor and student ministry director/pastor reported to the minister of education.
Depending on the context, there may be multiple reasons why churches moved away from the role. One, of course, was financial. Some churches and church leaders viewed the “minister of education” as middle management. And we know what happens to middle management in a financial crisis. Instead of leading through the minister of education/discipleship pastor, senior pastors/executive pastors decided they would lead the kids, students, and adult teams directly.
In some churches, the move has worked well. Senior pastors/executive pastors have stepped in and effectively filled the need that the minister of education was addressing. But in many churches, three unintended consequences have emerged.