Recently Dave Jacobs, president of Small Church Pastor.com, interviewed Dr. Terry W. Dorsett about the value of delegation in the small church.
Dave: Terry you serve on the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. What are your responsibilities with them?
Terry: My primary role with the NAMB is to facilitate the starting of new churches in Vermont.
Dave: Tell my readers a little bit about your church.
Terry: Six years ago a group began meeting in my home for Bible study. We were all attending churches in other towns and just wanted some fellowship between believers in our own town. After meeting for three months for Bible study, we felt that God was leading us to start a new church right in our own town. We have around 180 on Sunday mornings, most of whom are under 40 years old. Because I travel a lot with the Baptist convention, I am only at church two Sundays a month. Our lay elders and ministry interns preach the other two Sundays. We take on an intern each year and then send him out to start a new church in another town at the end of the year. We have done this 3 times so far in our six year history.
Dave: Your new book: Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church encourages pastors to share their ministry responsibilities with those members of their church who are interested in partnering with them. This, of course, brings up the topic of delegation. Why are some pastors hesitant to delegate?
Terry: There are a number of reasons why pastors do not delegate. The most obvious is that they are under the mistaken impression that the pastor is supposed to do it all. The second reason pastors do not delegate is because the lay people have not been trained to do ministry. We must train lay people to actually serve alongside their pastors doing front line ministry. Finally, some pastors do not delegate because they are co-dependent. They need to be needed by their congregation, so they enable the lay people to do very little so that the church needs the pastor to fill in the gap. This is the saddest of the three reasons and one that most pastors are not willing to be honest about.
Dave: What steps does a pastor need to take in order to delegate effectively?
Terry: First, a pastor must accept that he cannot do it all, nor should he try.
Second, a pastor must look at his strengths and weaknesses to determine which areas he needs the most help in.
Third, a pastor must then recruit people who are strong in areas in which he is weak in and then train them and release them to do ministry.
Dave: We’ve all made our fair share of mistakes in putting someone in leadership. How does a pastor know if he has found the right person to share his ministry with?
Terry: A pastor prays about whom might become leaders, discusses with other godly people who might be good leaders and then begins to recruit and train those people to be leaders. If somewhere along the way the process falters, the pastor just has to get back up and try again. A pastor who delegates will occasionally get a dud.
Dave: So let’s say the pastor finds someone to delegate/share a ministry with. They train them and release them, but down the road the pastor regrets their decision. What now?
Terry: That is a hard one. I can honestly say that I have never regretted investing in another person. There have been times that I did not see the return on my investment that I had hoped for. But in the end, investing in people is always the right thing to do. It will eventually produce fruit down the road; even though another pastor might be the one who gets to harvest that fruit.
Dave: You’ve got a lot of years behind you in pastoral ministry. If there was one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out what would it be?
Terry: Sorry, but I have to give you two pieces of advice, because they go together. Young pastors just starting out need to find a mentor they can share their heart, their struggles and their joys with. That mentor will help them gain wisdom they need to be a great pastor. That same young pastor must also find someone else to mentor, pouring their own life into that other person. There is something about taking in wisdom and then giving that wisdom to others that makes the wisdom “stick” better in our own lives.
Dave: Thanks Terry.