mlnmcRm (1)This week’s question explores the ministry challenge of how to provide quality congregational care in a multi-staff setting.

Dear Matriarchs:

I am a Senior Pastor serving with an Associate Pastor, a Minister of Music, a Youth Pastor (seminary student), and a Faith Formation Director (layperson). Providing good care to the congregation is a meaningful part of their work.

My questions are about how much personal/pastoral care information they share with each other about parishioners.

  • Do they work on a “one knows, everyone knows” arrangement or a “need to know basis” or something else altogether.
  • Also, how to share? Word of mouth, shared documents/spreadsheets?
  • And, if there is information sharing, how is that communicated to the congregation? Are they reminded periodically or is it just assumed they know? Should the person be told before information is shared?

Our Matriarchs respond:

Martha Spong:
My multiple staff experience was as an Interim Associate Pastor whose portfolio included youth, Christian Ed, and some pastoral care alongside consulting with the search committee. The Senior Pastor and I shared pastoral care information, but did not pass that information along to the musician or any other staff members. We had almost daily conversations in which we shared updates, a reflection of the collegial work and talk style of the Senior Pastor. He communicated that readily, letting people know we worked as a team and shared with each other broadly about needs and challenges in the congregation. The benefits of operating that way included a flattening of the hierarchy that meant people could feel cared for by either of us and a reminder to everyone (ourselves included) that we were pastors, not counselors, concerned with the spiritual health of the congregation as a whole.

Were I to serve as a head of staff, I would hope to embody the same sort of values. As far as sharing with other staff members, I think the question to ask before deciding is about their understanding of confidentiality and boundaries. You don’t have to be a pastor to get those concepts, but I would not be inclined to draw someone who did not into the circle of trust.

Karen Sapio:
We have a weekly staff meeting where “pastoral care update” is an item on the agenda. If someone comes to one of us individually, we’ll ask if it is okay to share with the other pastor/staff. Very rarely does someone say no, but if they do we respect that.

Thank you, Martha and Karen!

Now it’s your turn, RevGal readers.
How have you worked out care strategies as a head of staff?
What have you seen work in other multi-staff congregations?
Add your own ideas in the blog comments.

Are you dealing with a blessing that has become a challenge in your ministry? Send your scenario to askthematriarch (at) gmail (dot) com and Ask the Matriarch!

Rev. Sharon M. Temple is a United Church of Christ pastor living in Austin, TX. She is a contributor to the RevGals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit and blogs erratically at Tidings of Comfort and Joy.

RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

We hope you'll join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.