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Steve Adams: How to Be a Great Staff Pastor under a Senior Pastor

Steve Adams

Steve Adams serves as the executive pastor of children’s ministry at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. For over 25 years, he has mentored children’s ministry leaders all over the world and currently provides leadership to a dynamic team of staff and volunteers who minister to children at campuses across California, Germany, the Philippines, Argentina, and China. Steve is a graduate of Evangel University and the author of Children’s Ministry on Purpose. He lives with his wife and two sons in Orange County, California.

Key Questions:

What would you say to someone who is not quite on board with the direction their senior pastor is taking the church?

How can a leader guide his or her staff toward change instead of imposing change on them?

How can a staff pastor “lead up” and initiate change?

Key Quotes:

“There are some individuals who think that if you have a certain title or a certain position in the church, it’s almost like you have immunity from being held accountable to follow leadership.”

“You can’t really become the leader that God intends you to be until you first become the follower that God wants you to be.”

“If I want people to follow my leadership, then I have to model that by authentically following my pastor’s leadership.”

“In children’s ministry, 99.99 percent of what we do, no one knows about.”

“If a leader is unwilling to align themselves with their senior pastor, you can look back into the department or the team that person leads and you’re going to find a faction that are carrying out the exact same attitudes and actions that that staff pastor is.”

“If I’m not living up to the principles I’m teaching my team, eventually that’s going to catch up to me.”

“The younger the child, the more pliable, the more moldable, the more teachable they are.”

“For some reason we’ve treated [a child’s spiritual development] as almost an afterthought.”

“We all know whatever is nearest and dearest to the senior pastor’s heart is what the people are going to hear about most often.”

“If you want to reach young families in your church, you have to have a healthy children’s ministry.”

Mentioned in the Show:

Children’s Ministry on Purpose



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As Vice President of Ministry Mobilization for Outreach, Inc., Jason dedicates his time to encouraging and equipping churches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness by creating a culture that is both incarnational and invitational. He also serves as the Executive Director of the National Back to Church Sunday movement and hosts the weekly ChurchLeaders podcast. Jason lives on Anastasia Island, Florida, with his beautiful wife and children. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram @jasondaye