Meet Three Master’s Men Using the Organizational Gifts God has Given them for the Good of the Church
On a typical Sunday morning at Faith Community Church in Valencia, California, Jeff Howell (TMS 2007) does not preach, lead music, or give announcements. Though he is rarely in front of the congregation, Jeff, the associate pastor of administration, ministers to every person in attendance.
If someone found Faith Community through the Internet, they can thank Jeff and his team, who maintain the church’s website. If the facilities were not distracting—the parking, seating, sound, and lighting—that is because of the work Jeff does overseeing the staff and facilities. And if the sermon was clear, biblically precise, and theologically rich, that’s in part because the senior pastor, Steve Jackson, had time to study and prepare to feed the flock. He has that time because Jeff happily frees him from the burdens of running the day-to-day operations at the church so he can focus on preaching, shepherding, and counseling.
“My ministry is to make it easy for our leaders to thrive, to fulfill the calling God has for them,” Jeff said. “I want to free Steve and our other elders of undue burdens on their time and convert their leadership vision into practical reality.”
Jeff admits this isn’t always glamorous work. His days can be filled with spreadsheets, contracts, budgets, and H.R. issues. If there’s a problem at the church, if something breaks or malfunctions, he is the first phone call. That can involve late nights and early mornings. But even the most mundane tasks can still be satisfying, Jeff says, because they “connect the dots of ministry.”
“Like any elder who exercises oversight, my responsibility is to care for the flock of God that he’s given us here at Faith,” Jeff says. “The care I provide may look different than the care our senior pastor, Steve, provides, but no matter our roles, our mission is the same: to serve the body of Christ.”
The unity of mission and diversity of gifting Jeff describes is laid out in 1 Corinthians 12. Verse four says, “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.” Later in the chapter, the apostle Paul compares the church to the human body: “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, ‘because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body’ it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body’” (1 Cor 12:14-16).
Each part of the human body is connected but distinct. Same is true for at local congregations, especially among the pastoral team. God has gifted Jeff as an administrator. And he’s gifted Steve as a preacher. Faith Community needs both to thrive and advance the gospel in Valencia and around the world.
Jeff isn’t the only Master’s Man to find his ministry calling in church administration. After graduating from TMS, Chuck Finster (M.Div 2007) and Jeremiah Kirberg (M.Div 2011) have harnessed their administrative abilities in service to the local church. Chuck currently serves as associate pastor at Bible Church of Owasso near Tulsa, Oklahoma. Similar to Jeff, Chuck’s job is to take care of responsibilities that could distract the Bible Church of Owasso’s senior pastor, Ted Johnson, and make it difficult for him to study and prepare to preach each week. Chuck also oversees children’s ministry, selecting curriculum, scheduling ministry, and training and teaching volunteers. He also serves as the guide to the church’s deacons. This involves a weekly meeting with the head of the deacons, and lots of relationship building with the team Scripture says is to carry out the work of the ministry.
“As a pastor, my primary job is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry,” Chuck said. “So no matter how many tasks I have on my to-do list, I must be spending time with people and helping them know how to effectively do the work of the ministry.”
“I see my job primarily as a matter of stewardship,” Jeremiah Kirberg said. Jeremiah is the pastor of administration at New Community Church in Wildwood, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. “God has given us all these resources in finances, people, and the building where we gather. My job is to make sure we are stewarding those resources well.”
Since coming to New Community more than a decade ago, Jeremiah has been part of several building projects, staff changes, and a pastoral transition. His consistent leadership and attention to detail have helped keep the church stable through these changes. Many at the church don’t know all that Jeremiah does for New Community, but those who work closely with him can confirm that he is critical to the health of the church. New Community’s current teaching pastor—Rich Gregory—was the Vice President of Administration at TMS before the Lord called him to New Community, so he understands the value of Jeremiah’s work. “Jeremiah is a servant-hearted leader,” Rich said. “He works behind the scenes, caring for people in so many ways. The saints at New Community are so grateful for him.”
Some may wonder why men like Jeff, Chuck, and Jeremiah needed to train for ministry at The Master’s Seminary. If so, much of their job is focused on the church’s operations, why not pursue a degree in business or administration? Why attend a seminary that is known for training preachers?
“I can’t help Faith Community carry out its mission if I don’t know what the mission is,” Jeff said. “How we structure the church and carry out ministry is all based on the Word of God. So if I’m going to handle the church’s business well, I have to know how to handle the Bible. After all, that’s where we learn what the church should be doing.”
Chuck said something similar about his work at Bible Church of Owasso: “Your theological foundation drives your philosophy of ministry. In so much of the work I do, I’m applying the theology I learned at TMS. With the wrong convictions, I’ll serve the church poorly, no matter how effective I am as an administrator.”
Chuck’s theological training is particularly useful when it comes to selecting resources for Sunday School, Children’s programs, and leadership development. “Every ministry at our church is teaching the Word of God in some way,” Chuck said. “I can’t help those ministries be effective if I don’t understand what theology they need to learn, and which resources they need to avoid.”
Chuck, Jeff, and Jeremiah are also elders—men with the ability to teach God’s Word—so they do far more than oversee operations or select curriculum. Each teaches the Bible on a regular basis. They’ve led Sunday School classes, men’s gatherings, leadership training, and youth ministry. All three spend plenty of time with people, discipling, counseling, teaching, and leading those the Lord has entrusted to their care. Not a day goes by that each man isn’t relying on the theological training and pastoral preparation they received at TMS.
“As an administrator, I have a lot more access to people,” Chuck said. “I get to spend time discipling men and helping people grow. TMS taught me this love for God’s people—for his church. They made a churchman out of me and are still making churchmen out of their graduates. And really, that’s all an administrator is. He’s someone who loves the church and uses his gifts to love the people God has brought into his church.”