Every church needs a Technology Pastor

So, recently I started playing with the LinkedIn Newsletters feature (it’s pretty cool and is a massive outreach opportunity by the way). I wrote my article for the newsletter, but found myself a tad stumped that I needed to name the newsletter… I paused asking:

“What should I call it, what best describes my expertise?” 🤔

Long story short, I decided to name it after a church staff role that I believe all churches need to consider filling these days but very few have:

The Technology Pastor 🤓

So, what is a Technology Pastor and why do I think all churches need to fill that role?

Okay, so, before you ask, no, it’s not ministering to androids or determining if androids have souls… which is a totally nerdy theological discussion I’d love to have over lunch some day. 🤖

Rather: it’s time to start treating information technology as a high-level strategic asset and multiplier for churches to. 🤯

The business world figured this out some time ago when they moved IT out from under the Chief Operations Officer (COO) or Chief Management Officer (CMO) to it’s own executive roles: Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Technology leadership is too valuable of an asset not to be answering directly to the CEO.

Baby in tuxedo meme: Let's get down to business

A lot of churches tend to have a CEO, CFO, and COO/CMO equivalent, usually the Senior Pastor, accountant/finance executive/treasurer, and an Executive Pastor. There have been solid benefits to adopting this structure, but the problem is that technology tends to answer to the COO/CMO and as such is focused on status quo of keeping everything running instead of driving ministry initiatives. 🤦

That is such a wasted opportunity for church leadership! The last few years showed what was possible when churches invest in technology, but just as we have pastors and elders filling those CEO, COO, CMO, and CFO roles, we need to start filling the CIO/CTO/CISO role. The Technology Pastor is a person who understands ministry management, evangelism, and discipleship first and foremost and understands how technology can be used to enhance those goals.

The problem for pastors today is that people who can fill this role in the church are “scarce as hens teeth.” Here’s the skills you need to fill the role:

  • 🧑‍💼 Leadership
  • 🤔 Strategic thinking
  • 🤖 Technology
  • 📖 Theology
  • 🤗 Ministry

It’s especially important that they can see emerging technology trends and how those technologies can be used to better integrate people into the life of the church.

There are a few ways a church could fill Technology Pastor role:

Hire a Technology Pastor

Cost to have:💲💲💲
Difficulty to find: 🔍🔍🔍
Time to effectiveness: ⏱️⏱️
Day to day involvement:🙋🙋🙋

Ideally someone who has an MDiv and significant amounts of time running both ministries and technology departments. Keep in mind it will be very difficult to find someone with the skills and willingness to accept this role at the rates churches are willing to pay, but the advantage is that they can be highly involved in running initiatives like online church.

Outsource to a Technology Pastor

Cost to have:💲~💲💲
Difficulty to find: 🔍🔍
Time to effectiveness:⏱️
Day to day involvement:🙋~🙋🙋

Now, I’m biased because I consult for churches to help them fill that Technology Pastor role. This can work well because you engage your Technology Pastor on a quarterly, monthly, or weekly basis for a few hours of their time and are sharing the costs of a Technology Pastor with all the churches he or she consults for. You tend to get more/broader experience and expertise because outsourced Technology Pastors get exposed to a lot more ministry contexts and are used to “hitting the ground running” and getting the “quick wins.” This compounds if your outsourced Technology Pastor is part of a firm that has their own team of consultants and project managers. The down-side is they won’t be running a ministry like online church on a day to day basis.

Train a Technology Pastor

Cost to have:💲💲💲
Difficulty to find: 🔍
Time to effectiveness:⏱️⏱️⏱️
Day to day involvement:🙋🙋🙋

Finally, you can train someone to fulfill the role of Technology Pastor. Either someone with significant ministry leadership background or significant IT leadership background. You hire while they acquire the skills in more formal training programs like an MDiv, Bible School, or via IT certification programs. They will make some big mistakes along the way, we all did when starting out in technology or in ministry, but if you are willing to accept that mistakes will be made and you have patience, then it’s a viable route to filling the Technology Pastor position.

So what is The Technology Pastor Newsletter and content about?

I get that it’s hard to get a Technology Pastor (shameless plug: unless you are engaging me of course 😉), so it’s my hope that the content that I put out: emails, videos, and articles, help to provide some of the advice, insight, and value that a Technology Pastor provides.

Need help with technology in your church or ministry? Book a meeting with me.

Isaac Johnson

Isaac has been in professional ministry since 2002, holds an M.Div. from Moody, and his goal is to equip churches to reach digital natives.

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