Pastors Knute Larson, Jeff Bogue, and Jim Brown talk about how pastors can hire better staff members, but also when the right time might be to let a staff member or volunteer go. Perhaps we should talk about staff disease in a church first, and then take on the physical enemy that has hurt many.
And this one, staff disunity and pain, including lead volunteers as staff, has hurt many churches.
We must go to our Lord and to the medicine cabinet of pastors who have been through painful experiences with staff—thus this month’s video and short papers from Jeff and Jim and me.
Our hope is that we will all be realistic, lead with love, get people “on the right seats on the bus,” and care so much about the health of the church that we will make hard and loving decisions.
Do not just take an aspirin and go to bed!
And we wish you a very joyful Christmas!
Knute, Jeff and Jim
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What kind of staff meetings help them grow and serve?
- Regular staff meetings.
- Inclusive staff meetings where, especially in a small staff, voices are heard and vision and plans are developed together.
- Meetings that have clear goals and achievable outcomes.
So your staff can leave the meeting and actually do what you’ve asked of them.
- Regular reviews.
Taking time to write down their strengths and weaknesses, then discussing them and making sure they know the directions in which you want them to work.
- Encouraging staff meetings.
Celebrating wins, giving deeper biblical insight, or reminders of why we do what we do.
- Meetings that are not just all information and to-do lists.
- Meetings where the vision is clearly stated and honest, real communication is the norm.
- Meetings where the best is pulled out of them, and their gifts can be used to support the vision.
- I also paint the Nathan and David scenario and ask them what they would do. I personally did this with a volunteer on one occasion and he said, “You are talking about me aren’t you?” I said, “Yes” and he said, “I would relieve them of their responsibilities.”
- Meetings where they can add their input to the project or subject at hand.
- Fun ones that people look forward to! Not just facts and administration. Shared lunch time helps, as do a few minutes of planned informal joy, and prayer. “Cheers and tears” is an old formula, simply calling for the lighter and the heavier issues.
- Regular, weekly, important. Carefully planned.
- It is good to have part-time staff join the regular meeting once a month, to worship and renew devotion, and seek God’s favor together—in addition to updates and coordination.
- A lot depends on the size of the staff. A good rule from experts on group discussions: “the rule of eight”—when there are eight or more in a room, only four will heartily join in the discussions.
When is it time to remove a staff member or yourself?
- Remove a staff member whenever he fights you for the vision of the church.
If they have a theological difference or a vision difference, they must go. If you are the staff member and you do not align with your senior pastor, then you must go to another ministry.
- Whenever staff members are ineffective
I believe very deeply that it’s important we remember that ministry is also a profession. If I’m in full-time ministry I need to be growing and getting better in my ministry, just like any other profession I’ve dedicated myself to.
- They need to go if they are lazy.
- Sometimes they need to go if there is consistent, habitual, and/or public sin.
- Sometimes they need to go when they have outgrown their jobs.
You may have a children’s worker or a youth pastor who absolutely excels at what they’re doing, and they have a passion to lead a church, or to plant a new work. If you do not have that opportunity available to them, then I believe as senior leaders we need to love our staff enough to help them achieve those callings on their lives.
- Finally, any kind of insubordination.
If they are undermining you or second guessing you, in inappropriate ways, they need to go.
- Not until you have spent a time of fasting and prayer for that decision. Never make a rash decision.
- Never remove them when you are angry. Make sure you allow a cooling down period before you do so.
- Ask other senior leader teammates their perspective on the staff member. Never make this decision in a vacuum.
- Make sure you have regular reviews when you have written down areas of improvement for that staff member. Refer back to these before releasing them.
- For the record, there are many reasons to remove a staff member:
- Poor job performance
- Sin and insubordination
- No longer a good fit
- No longer supports the vision and direction of the church.
- Probably sooner than later. We often wait too long and the damage just mounts.
- When they have hit the lid in their role and need released to lead in another position, somewhere else.
- When a negative, skeptical, critical spirit surfaces in them about your leadership.
- Yesterday, if the person, even after warnings and corrections, continues to cause disunity or to neglect his or her responsibilities or float instead of swim! Most of us have waited too long when people need to change for the good.
- After clear attempts to help and correct. A paper trail of warnings and defining a period of probation is legislated in some states for the corporate world, and this is also good for a church. Reviews, in one sense, should be weekly! There should be no surprises in the formal quarterly or annual reviews.
- It seems unnecessary to say, but some churches break this rule: all staff persons should report to only one person, and ultimately to the senior pastor. Only the senior pastor reports to the board. This does relate to determining the time for removal also.
- All this is harder in smaller churches where the “staff” is essentially the lead volunteers. It is much easier to help or even reprimand a paid staff member. But still we must speak the truth in love, as Scripture says it, and make calls for the glory of God and the good of the church; not for our own comfort or desire to avoid conflict.
- Even good volunteers should have enough meetings and encouragement so that they know how they are doing. And they should report to one person.
- It is time when the person cannot or will not meet the standards for character and competence and chemistry.
Character, competence, chemistry—is the last so important?
- Character must be a given.
In my view, character is established and rarely changes. If a person does not have high character and a commitment, they probably will not gain it later on in life.
- Competence can be taught.
There certainly is a degree of competence that needs to come into place, but it is okay for a young leader to learn how to lead and make mistakes, as long as they’re moving in the right direction.
- CHEMISTRY is the most important of these three! If the team does not enjoy working together, if the team does not click instinctively (think the same way), then the team will not work. When I’m looking to hire a staff person, I use the “eight-hour car ride rule.” If I’m stuck in a car all day with this person, do I look forward to being with them or do I dread it? If I dread being with them, then the chemistry isn’t there, and they’re not the right staff person for the job.
- Let’s face it, the teams with the most talent and skill don’t always win. It is teams that have talent and work as a team that win most often. Chemistry is the heart of championship teams.
- You must have teammates that gel well and add their personality, talent, gifts and abilities to the team to make it stronger together.
- We ask here at Grace “Can you see this person sitting at our table, drinking coffee, and fitting right in?”
- If you are constantly “walking on eggshells” around this person, he or she lacks chemistry and must move on.
- Find ways to spend time with this person in various venues before you make the decision to hire staff. You will see how they get along with others.
- Lack of chemistry will destroy your team over time and will constantly be a pain in your side.
- For sure. Our Lord thinks so—see the Bible 🙂
- It is crucial on a small or large staff team. We do not even have to like everything about each other, or agree on everything, but all must be committed to unity and hard work. Competence and even character are not enough.
- If a staff member will not work at chemistry—teamwork, school spirit, biblical unity, or whatever you call it!—he or she must not work here at all. See Korah in the Old Testament! (Harder to do today!)
- There are blind spots people can have as to how they affect team chemistry and spirit, often, so they must be told with candor and straight talk. These infections do not get cured on their own.
- There is not much better than the feeling of generous teamwork with joyous love, where there is mutual respect and honor to each other and to the cause. Go for it together!
- It is healthy for staff members, including the senior, to sign annually a pledge they have written together about “what we owe each other and the church.” We had ours displayed in the hallway with large type and signatures. It was at least a reminder.
- The senior leader of a group of volunteers or a large staff must accept personal responsibility for setting a standard of excellence and servanthood and love for all in the church and staff, and for bringing a “we are the body of Christ” mentality to Sunday services and work days. He is the head cheerleader.
Vol. 3, Issue 8
December 2016 Issue
Produced by CE National
Pastorpedia is a ministry of CE National, a church effectiveness ministry. To receive an email when each Pastorpedia is available, signup for ON MISSION Insights at cenational.org/omi_signup.
The three experienced pastors in these videos are Jeff Bogue, of Grace Church, in several locations in the Bath-Norton-Medina areas of Ohio; Jim Brown, of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana, a church known for its strong growth, family and men’s ministries, and community response teams; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years. Pastorpedia is brought to you by CE National. Visit cenational.org/pastorpedia for more issues and to read the bios of our contributors.
Ed Short, CE National church consultant, is available to help you launch your ministry into a more thriving atmosphere. Visit cenational.org/candc to find out more.