Positioning Your Online Pastor within the Org Chart
It can be messy figuring out where to position your online pastor organizationally. If you are just starting out use an existing staff member or empower a volunteer, but as the ministry grows a full-time position will be needed. Here are a few ways Saddleback Church has positioned the online pastor (me) since 2010:
- On the Communications Team as a ministry focused on digital outreach
- On the Small Groups Team as a groups pastor overseeing an online venue
- On the Membership Team as a groups pastor overseeing a campus-lite (early beginnings of expanding our online campus offerings)
- On the Central Team as a campus pastor but not organizationally positioned with other campuses (“Central” is a way of not focusing on a specific campus, but empowering every campus)
As you can see from above, it’s been a work in progress for Saddleback. I’ve personally changed my mind on this topic many times and don’t have a definite answer. The last few years have brought some clarity, but it's still murky. The bottom line is you position the online pastor based on your church’s strategy. Saddleback Church’s ministry methodology is different than your church’s. We can relate to ministry goals, but our ministry paradigms will vary.
There are two strategic options for positioning your online pastor generally:
1st impressions or connector role focused on outreach and the ultimate goal of funneling all connections to local church/campuses or network churches. Heavily focused on hosting worship service and first pastoral touches. No longterm care for those part of the online community because local church/campuses or network churches would handle the responsibility.
Fulfilling what a campus pastor looks like in your church's methodology of ministry. Functioning as a Host Pastor, funneling people to your local church/campuses or network churches, but as well offers longterm care options online or ways for those watching far from a local campus to engage offline in their community.
Below is a visual of the difference between Host Pastor verse Campus Pastor organizationally in Saddleback Church's ministry methodology:
It's okay not to be confident on how to position your online pastor, but if you use this language, it helps leadership be clear with expectations. I would suggest starting with a host role and grow into a campus role as the ministry expands. It's always easier having an opinion about something after playing around in the space. Small steps are helpful while conquering new territory!