7 Characteristics of an Effective Church Office

church ofcieThe church office can be structured in a million different ways.  I have been in churches where the office staff is numerous, but the hallways are very solemn and quiet.  I have been in church offices with very few staff and there is bustle and energy.  I have experienced church office staff when there is heavy tension and when there has been freedom and peace.  Here are seven characteristics of an effective church office – including both pastors and support staff:

Warm, friendly and focused -The purpose of the church staff is to equip the church.  We are the daily representatives of the congregation   We need to be focused on people, their comments, their interactions and be focused on our role as coaches, ministry leadership developers, and ministry facilitators.  Friendliness is also important between the connections of staff members.  Smile, say hello, visit for a moment.  Don’t become so engrossed in connections with other staff that your tasks suffer, but be on board with your fellow staff members and those with whom your paths cross.

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Solid on Details and Administration: A true love for the church – Administration and details have become a bad word in church circles.  In fact, most visionary leaders pride themselves on “not being a detail person.”  However, as leaders mature, they realize that details make or break the effectiveness of the ministry.  One job of the church office is to work hard at keeping the details straight so the overall ministry is not hindered.  The more the details are in place, the more confidence the congregation has in the staff and the church office.  This aids in making sure the mission doesn’t get clouded or sidetracked with small issues.

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A place that welcomes strategic questions and criticism – Church staff shouldn’t go at it on Sunday morning, but Monday is fair game.  There are things that need to be tweaked constantly.  As soon as one issue is solved, a new one creeps up.  When one success is finished, you’re on to planning for the next round.  Do whatever you need to do to make things work well during weekend worship services.  But during the week, grow very comfortable – to the point of expecting it – with strategic questions and comfortable with criticism.  “Why do we do this?  How can this be better?  Next time you should…” An effective church staff sharpens each other.

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A place for encouragement and discernment – The church office needs to be a place to celebrate, encourage ministry and aid in the process of discernment.  Where is the church heading?  What is my part in this?  How can I use my gifts to serve and grow the church?  In what ways are we lifting up the people and ministries of this body of Christ so that they are equipped to go into all the world?  Make it a practice to pray for fellow staff members or other people who stop by your office with a struggle or a question.  Encourage all the good you see!

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Freedom to be out of the office with people – a healthy and effective church office understands that much of the work is done with an outside focus.  For ministry department leaders, being around people, meetings for vision and connection, lunch and breakfast with team members and other “out of the office ministry components”  is important and often outweighs the hours spent at the desk.  For the roles that require being in the office – such as receptionist, office administrators and other staff roles,  the same mindset goes with people who visit or call on the office.  The first impressions of those encounters are often so important to the impression of the church.  Being out of the office also helps raise the expectation that you are developing leaders – both the people you are working with and the people who are taking on ministry roles in your ministry area while you are out.

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A Balance:  Live hard, work hard, play hard – An effective church office is filled with hard workers who go all out while they are there.  Ministry is life and life is ministry – but it’s in check with a balance of home life as well.  When the church staff is on at church, 100% is needed and expected.  When they are off and at home – 100% of being at home is also expected.  Balance is the key as we seek to live life in ministry – being refreshed for both is important. The church office staff should also make sure that community is being built.  Find ways to develop relationships and memories among the staff.  The productivity will go up as people have common connections and memories together.

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Clarified roles, hours, jobs, structure – Very few things will help the church office become successful as much as clarification of duties and roles.  The issue in our day is that these can change quickly as the mission is accomplished.  As we develop leaders, create ministries,  respond to needs, and become aware of our own God given gifts and passions, these issues require constant clarification.  What is the role of each person?  For which areas is this person responsible?  What is the expected protocol for being in and out of the office?  What is the expected time away during the year?  What is the plan for personal and spiritual growth the staff member?  What systems are in place so that the staff member knows that he or she is doing what is needed and not becoming ineffective due to overstretched workloads?

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How do we move toward a more effective church office?  Pray for clear direction.  Celebrate the small things.  Make daily improvements and changes.  Seek to clarify some philosophies and standards for accomplishing the mission.  Connect with outside help in making that happen.  Seek the help of others in your church who have experiences in ministry in this way.  Can they help serve or lead administratively?  Invite the church to pray for the church office.

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