As a pastor, you need a faithful team of dedicated men and women, both paid and lay staff, to help you achieve the vision God has called you to.
Here are some helpful points:
1: Get the Right Person. You need harmony; not tension
2: Make sure they agree with and submit to:
- Your doctrines of the pastor
- Your philosophy of ministry of the pastor
- Your vision of the pastor
- And be committed to your encouragement
3: A staff member must understand the purpose of a staff
- Shepherd’s Banner (identifying the Shepherd’s territory)
- Shepherd’s Rest (lean on)
- Shepherd’s Refreshment
- Beat away wolves
- Rescue erring sheep
- Scare away snakes or kill them
4: Make sure every staff member understands that they are representatives of you, the pastor.
They’re not representing the congregation to the pastor, but the pastor to the congregation.
5: Try to staff a position with someone you trained
Pick someone from your church first, and don’t feel you have to rush. That’s where we end up making big mistakes. People that have been with you a long time, and have proved themselves faithful, already have your DNA.
6: Set clear requirements
I developed nine general requirements for staff
- Servant-heartedness: make the pastor’s job easier, be a helper; a load-lifter to the Pastor, develop the team concept
- Teachable attitude: demonstrating willingness to learn and grow and continually developing and improving skills
- They must be close to Jesus, spiritual, host mature attitudes and maintain moral purity and Foster a good, stable home situation
- They must exhibit creativity, find workable, practical solutions to problems and discover ways to increase and expand their responsibilities
- They have to walk in integrity and possess high-level commitment/loyalty; speaking the best about you and other staff members, and in maintaining confidentiality
- They must project the image of quality, in proper dress, organization, and stay alert to details.
- They need to exhibit the faithfulness factor
I enjoyed mostly long-term staff members over my 30+ years as pastor of Mount Hope Church in Lansing, but sometimes you have to deal with terminating an employee or staff member. I know it’s not easy, but it will end up being worse for the church if you don’t.
So, you’ll want to publish to all employees and staff members what could cause a dismissal, a termination from their position.
For example, it might say:
- Breaking church office confidences
- Absence without authorization
- Constant complaining
- Attitudes corruptive to workforce
- Disharmony with pastor
- Falsifying church information, records or documents
- Failing to promote love, unity, and peace in our church
- Undermining or maligning church leadership in any way
If termination is necessary, it must be immediate. You can simply say, “I’m sorry, we are eliminating your position and have to terminate your employment.” Make sure you immediately take their keys, allow no more church computer usage, and take their cell phone if it is church provided.
Offer severance pay with clear conditions. For example, “We will send you two month’s severance pay if you do not contact any members, and if you leave town within a month.”
I hope you never have to experience the pain of terminating a staff member. I only had to do it a couple times in all my years. But if you do, do it quickly, and don’t say too much to others except your official board.