Press Release: Rethink Structure in Congregations
New Book by Author David J. Peter Addresses the Need for Congregations to Organize to Best Proclaim the Gospel
Every congregation must make structural and organizational choices that require planning from church leaders. While organizational details are not the main thing a church should focus on to be successful in ministry and mission, they are important. In his new book, Organizing for Ministry and Mission: Options for Church Structure, author Dr. David J. Peter identifies the key reasons for organizing staff and other church workers to achieve more effective leadership.
“Yet if the mission and ministry of the Church are to advance forward, leaders need to give attention to matters of organization,” Dr. Peter writes. “This is because mission and ministry are about people—people to be formed in faith and sent in service. And the processes of formation and sending involve organization. The saints need to be mobilized and managed.”
As a professor of practical theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Dr. Peter uses his many years of experience in the parish to reflect on the realities of pastoral ministry and leadership in congregations. He presents three dominant models for readers about organizing churches, and he carefully examines the advantages and disadvantages of each. Congregational officers, church council members, board members, students preparing for ministry, and other lay leaders will gain insights and best practices for more effective leadership of their churches in Dr. Peter’s book.
“David Peter has written the definite resource on board governance for congregations,” said Dr. Kurt Senske, author and founder and principal of CEO-Board Services. “Organizing for Ministry and Mission adroitly acknowledges that each church is unique in culture, history, size, and programmatic complexity and, as such, one governance model does not fit all. Peter combines a theological framework with a practical approach that allows a congregation’s governance model to addition of value to its mission as opposed to an exercise in frustration.”
About the Author
Dr. David J. Peter has spent twenty-three years in the parish, experiencing the realities of pastoral ministry and researching congregational dynamics. As a professor of practical theology and the dean of faculty at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, he regularly leads courses for practicing pastors. He has also gained many insights from students about the realities of administration and leadership in congregations.
Praise for Organizing for Ministry and Mission
Dr. Peter has done a marvelous job in Organizing for Ministry and Mission, laying out for congregations important and needed information on organizational life and operations. He lays out clear methods for congregations as they operate and organize themselves. This information is especially helpful for congregational leaders and administrators as they carry out the task of keeping the ministry moving forward. He does a masterful job at maintaining the importance of Word and Sacrament ministry as the heart and soul of any congregational life and organization. This is a must-read for all congregational leaders and pastors.
—Rev. Dr. Jamison Hardy, president and bishop of the English District, assistant pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church, Hartland, Michigan
We’re saved by grace, not by enduring endless, boring meetings. The Holy Spirit gathers and nurtures us, not constitutions, bylaws, and budgets. Still, earthly practices help make the mission of God incarnate to us and through us to our neighborhoods and communities. From my experience, good governance is often neglected in many—I’m afraid in most—churches. David Peter’s work, solidly theological, offers an opportunity for honest reflection on how effectively we are, or are not, functioning. I suggest my fellow pastors consider reading through this helpful book with their congregational leadership.
—Dale A. Meyer, president emeritus, Concordia Seminary
Frustration. Wasted time. Lack of direction. Too many positions to fill. What kind of structure is best for your congregation? Can things get better organizationally in your congregation? Yes, someone is listening and responding to the real dilemmas that congregations and leaders are facing. David Peter responds to these concerns and more in Organizing for Ministry and Mission. As you read this book, you will gain biblical and theological insights, options for growing an impactful organization, and true hope for a well-run congregation rooted in Christ and ready for His mission. There is no despair in this book, only confidence that Christ is at work and will continue to be at work. It is filled with practical ideas for you and your congregation to consider, including how to raise up new leaders for service. If you are looking for less frustrating meetings, more rich and clear congregational life, and especially stronger ministry and mission, this is the book for you!
—Rev. Dr. Allan R. Buss, president, Northern Illinois District
David Peter has written the definite resource on board governance for congregations. Organizing for Ministry and Mission adroitly acknowledges that each church is unique in culture, history, size, and programmatic complexity and, as such, one governance model does not fit all. Peter combines a theological framework with a practical approach that allows a congregation’s governance model to addition of value to its mission as opposed to an exercise in frustration. A “how to” guide for every seminarian and a must read for all of us who are lay leaders and pastors in our churches.
—Dr. Kurt Senske, author, The CEO and the Board: The Art of Nonprofit Governance as a Competitive Advantage, founder and principal of CEO-Board Services.
David Peter does an excellent job making the case for the importance and necessity of a congregation giving attention to its organizational structure as it serves the essence of the Church—the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Congregations will benefit from this book, as it provides a wealth of information useful for every congregation, regardless of size or context. As the leader of the Post-Seminary Applied Learning and Support (PALS) program, I will definitely recommend this book to new pastors transitioning into their first call.
—Rev. Dr. James A. Baneck, executive director of pastoral education, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
David Peter provides a compelling case that since God is a God of order and His very creation exhibits organization, so should God’s Church be as it carries out God’s mission. While insisting that organization is not optional, Peter does not insist on a one-size-fits-all approach. He provides a theological framework for organizing the local congregation and presents the three most common approaches in organizing congregations today, weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each. This book is a valuable resource for those who wish to examine their own congregational structure, especially as changes in context occur.
—Rev. Dr. Glen Thomas, senior pastor, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School, St. Louis, Missouri
Concordia Publishing House (CPH) is the publishing arm of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. For 150 years, CPH has been providing individuals, churches, and schools with products that are faithful to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. From books and Bibles to church supplies, curriculum, and software, CPH offers over 10,000 products to support the proclamation of the Gospel worldwide. Visit CPH online at cph.org.