This year has admittedly been one of the most difficult in recent history. With unprecedented numbers of people facing isolation, strife, depression, and tension in the home, the local church has also dealt with these effects. Now, more than ever, there has been an increase in stress among staff teams and a need for greater unity in church leadership. Every pastor that I know longs to have an effective and unified staff ministering alongside him. But an all-star church team does not happen by accident. Even a church with a team full of talented people can struggle with staff unity, staff productivity, staff morale, or staff longevity. Without an intentional plan, a church may end up with high staff turnover, tension, and ministry silos. How can a church build an effective, unified church staff that loves working together?
Are you in an urban setting? Each staff person should love and be called to the urban context. Are you in a suburban or rural context? The same rules apply. Are you considering bringing someone from far away to join your church team? Most prospective staff members will swear up and down (ironic) that they are willing to follow Jesus wherever he leads. But have they truly considered raising kids far away from family in a section of the country that has a very different culture? These are at the minimum questions that must be asked. Other issues in staffing for your context include community demographics, ethnic makeup, economic issues, church culture, and theological culture. Keep in mind, also, that a person who was wildly successful in a previous context might completely fail in yours.
There might be no crime greater than not giving a person a clear job description. (Maybe a slight exaggeration) but every staff member has the inalienable right to know what is expected of him, and how he will be measured, and how he will be evaluated. Write a clear job description for each person on your staff. Review that job description quarterly with the staff member. Evaluate and adjust quarterly. In fact, stop reading and go do this now!
Many years ago, as I was trying to figure out how to lead my staff, my wife sent me a set of questions that she thought I should be asking each staff person. These are the same kinds of questions that I use to this day and they are especially crucial given today’s context. Rather than meeting with each staff person only to discuss his ministry performance, consider asking these kinds of questions:
When is the last time that you played together as a staff team? Budget for this. (Yes, with church funds) Why spend $150,000 per year paying an unproductive, dis-unified staff? Why not budget another 5K to build staff unity? A happy staff is a lot cheaper than hiring new staff.
Tired of being bad cop? Lead your staff team to write an Annual Plan. Learn how here!
Part of your role is to be a leader-developer. What are you doing to develop the strengths of each person on your team? Does each person believe that you are for them and are committed to their growth? Part of your legacy will be the kingdom impact of the men who follow behind you.
Over the years, I have had several dozen people work alongside me in ministry. Some are no longer in ministry. Some are lead pastors. Some have planted churches. I have learned the importance of developing leaders while I have them and not to hesitate to let them go when it is time. Sending people out is good. Many of your staff members will move on to other ministries. Don’t despair. The gospel is still going forward, and God will take care of your church after they leave.