Dear St. Mark Family:
In a NUTSHELL your pastor, our nominating committee, and our church council have
agreed that a new form of church leadership called "Team Ministry" may be a great option for our congregation
to consider in the future. Interested? Read on.
Polity: a structure or form
of organization, especially of a church.
The church has had many different kinds of polity in the last
2000 years. The earliest church of course was led by apostles, those who saw Jesus and who were chosen and sent out by Him.
Since then different denominations have adopted different forms of leadership. The Roman Catholics have a Pope, Cardinals,
bishops, and priests. The Presbyterians are defined as those who are led by presbyters (ie: Elders). Baptist churches
are typically led by two groups, a board of elders who oversee spiritual matters, and a board of deacons (from the Greek word
for servant or minister) who oversee the nuts and bolts of everyday life in the church. Congregational Churches have
adopted a strictly democratic form of polity where the congregation makes every decision. Quaker Churches make decisions
only when every member of the congregation agrees. (I'm just guessing decisions made in Quaker churches are few and far between.)
is no one "Biblically correct" polity for every church, but the Bible gives us freedom to use whatever form of organization/
structure/ polity is most helpful for us in carrying out the mission and ministry of our church.
As is true of many
churches, our governing body at St. Mark is made up of a church council and committees. This is an organizational model
that came out of 15th century Germany and is essentially the same structure used today by our federal, state, and
While this organizational structure has served us well for many years, in our generation it also
has some disadvantages.
1. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find members
with gifts for leadership who are willing to commit two years of their time to meet both monthly as part of the
council and monthly as leaders of a committee, in addition to the effort and hours involved in carrying out the
plans and ministries of those groups. It is also difficult to find committee members. At St Mark we currently
have 10 committees, 5 of which have 1 or fewer members.
2. When people do commit to serve
as council members and committee chairs they are required to meet for two years whether they accomplish anything or not.
a result the process of positive change can grind exceedingly s-l-o-w
3. As we have learned
from our government, the larger the governing body, the more likely it is that there will be disagreement, arguments
and conflict. While we have grown to expect this in government, it can be very discouraging and demotivating in the
"For God so loved the world that he didn't send a committee."
new model of church polity is emerging in many forward thinking Lutheran congregations. (For example Pastor PJ's
church Alleluia in Naperville, Pastor Ronda's church Gloria Dei in Downers Grove, America's largest ELCA Lutheran Church
in Des Moines, and many others around the country.)
This new model is called "TEAM MINISTRY." A team might
be defined as a group of people working together to accomplish a common goal.
Many groups and ministries
at St. Mark already function as "teams" and have done so successfully for years. Here
are some examples of functioning team ministries at St. Mark.
- Dartball team,
Monday morning counting team,
- Auditing team
- Praise Hymn worship team
- Quilters group
Beds+ ministry to the homeless
- Altar Guild
- Kingdom Weekend teams
- Serendipity Choir
- Drama ministry cast (eg: Godspel, Rebound for Glory, or the occasional skit for worship)
- Garden Ministry
- Extended Ministry endowment fund
- Anita Korenski Scholarship Committee
Teams (whether they are called teams, guilds, choirs, casts, chains or even committees) meet
to accomplish a single goal, and then disband. For example the auditing team meets for a couple of days once a year, but only
until the job is done. The Serendipity Choir meets weekly for 4 or so practices until they are prepared
to grace our worship service with their inspiring music at Christmas or Easter time. The Dart Ball team meets weekly to practice
and compete until the season is over, usually fall through winter. The Kingdom Team meets weekly for 6 weeks, puts on
the Kingdom Retreat and then disbands once the goal is accomplished. The counting team, because of the very nature of
the task, will continue to meet every Monday or until people stop giving to God through this church. The length and
type of service all depends on the nature of the ministry task. Advantages of team ministry include:
1.It is much easier
to find a gifted member to work on a short term goal, than it is to find someone to commit to an open
and unknown agenda for two years.
2. Humanly speaking, because members agree to serve only until their
goal is reached, team members are motivated to accomplish their task as quickly, and efficiently as possible.
3. A smaller
council is much more likely to have fewer diverging and conflicting opinions.
My hope as your pastor is that together
we will move in the direction of team ministry at St. Mark. Please think and pray about these things.
Your brother in Christ,