Does the staff influence the church more or does the church influence the staff more? Obviously, they both happen to some degree, but this question has been on my mind. There are some churches who not only retain staff, but keep them unified, challenged and growing in healthy and creative ways. This post is a partial list of ways the church can help shape a member of the church staff.
Live a vibrant and healthy life as a congregation – the best way for a church to shape a staff member is for the congregation to be healthy, vibrant and confident in their ministry as a congregation.
Develop a spirit of healthy critique and criticism – Even the brightest among us understand the need for coaching. In staff selection, one key is “teach-ability.” Develop a place where encouragement abounds, but so does the aspect of teaching, coaching and critique. What did this person do well? What didn’t go so well? Don’t attack the person, but quickly and frankly bring up the part that could be improved next time.
The Right Tools – what does this person need to make things happen well? Basic stuff is a must – computer, Internet, etc. Do they have a clear vision of the church and of their role in it? What is the budget like? Is the person equipped for ministry in specific ways? Do they need to be strengthed? Invest in them by sending them to seminars, gatherings and conferences. A church never loses by sending their staff to ministry conferences and training events. The church benefits with the ideas, energy and excitement that comes back home. But they also benefit from knowing that they are helping to shape the staff person’s life in some way.
Give them opportunities to grow – Pray for your church to be flexible enough to change as the church and staff grow. Find ways for the staff to transition to things that line up with their passions and dreams. It’s possible that the same staff person will have three or four different roles during their time at your church. Keep looking toward ways for them to fulfill God’s call on their life through their role in the church.
Accountability and Goal Setting – Clearly defined goals for a church staff help everyone move in the right direction. Most church staff I know are go-getters, have a desire to get things done and want to make things happen. The question becomes, do the things they are making happen and getting done line up with what the church needs? Goals help define this process. There are a million ways to accomplish this process and they all require time. If the church is small with 2-3 total staff (outside of the pastor) the pastor should just visit with each one individually on a regular basis. If the church staff is medium sized 4-25, then there is probably room for this goal setting process to be overseen by an administrative staff leader or a wise church leader who is part of the leadership structure that oversees the work of the church staff. If the staff is much larger (35-150), this most often is done through a church administrator, or a chain of dept heads, etc
Create a positive culture through words, encouragement and vision. Growth in the staff will occur no matter what – the question is, how will they grow? Will they grow more committed to the vision, more excited about serving in this particular church, more in line with their gifts and strengths? Or will they begin to grow discontented or disengaged? Sharing the vision, keeping them in the loop and communicating with the staff, and encouragement goes along way to keep growth moving in the positive direction.
Expect a lot, Demand a Little – Get to the point where you expect a lot, but have to demand little. Build in your staff a sense of ownership and initiative. Start slowly, with both high expectation and high demand. Then, as time goes on, the need for demanding timelines, details, and other specifics can go down. But never let the expectation go down. Build the framework of discipline, structure and accountability at the onset. It’s good to work through the details early – what is a day off? How many are there? What happens with sick days? How are taxes taken care of? etc. Don’t let things become nebulous. Find out what the plan is and keep it in front – not only on administrative issues but with the vision and mission of the role.
Pray for the staff – Pray for supernatural power as they help move the congregation from one point to the next. Pray energy and strength would surround their families, their homes and their hearts. Pray for clarity and vision in their role. Pray for the teams that help and serve with them. Devise a plan for people in your congregation to pray for your church staff on a regular and personal basis.
One of the growing trends is that staff members for many churches are hired from within the congregation. Be looking for students, young adults and others in your church who may benefit from learning, internships, etc. Thinking about who next in your church is motivating. Who can we develop? This outlook probably more clearly defines the role – the congregation is really the church staff and the the church staff are coaches helping the ministry of the congregation grow and be strengthened. Create opportunities and momentum by pulling people in – volunteer or paid!