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Guest Article

Church Staffing Suggestions
By Daniel A. Brown

"It is to your advantage that I go away"
-Jesus, the Savior of the world

When we left our home church in late 1984 to plant The Coastlands, this scripture kept coming to my heart again and again—along with a simple prophetic understanding: I was to structure this new church in such a way that it functioned as well without me (in its daily operations) as it did with me. In other words, disciple people, develop systems and delegate significant responsibilities within those systems to those people. If Jesus left the world in the keeping of humans, it is hard to justify a leadership attitude that struggles with entrusting church work to those same humans.

Not that it has been a smooth journey, but between the bumps and potholes (sometimes through them), I have learned a few things that might help you in staffing your ministry, so that more people (volunteers and paid workers) can be involved meaningfully in the process:
  • The work of church is not primarily the programs and services it puts on, but the transformation in the lives of the congregation; therefore, do not use the people to get the jobs done, use the jobs to help complete the people.

  • Inspire people by believing in them more than they believe in themselves. They tend to perform to the level expected of them. When their job is "to do what they're told to do," do not be surprised if they fail to take much initiative.

  • Adapt the particulars of the job to the uniqueness of the person doing it, not the other way around. Define the core tasks of the assignment, but let the new person accomplish those tasks their own way; and, encourage that person to branch out into new areas of interest.

  • Several part-time workers will usually be a better use of limited salary funds than one full-time worker. With rare exceptions (finances, graphics, scheduling, etc.), the main assignment of staff is to mobilize more people to do the jobs assigned to the staff.

  • Once staff and volunteers understand and agree to what you are ultimately trying to accomplish, the greater freedom and authority they can be allowed to fulfill their assignments. The more clear you are about the goal, the less detailed you have to be with instructions.

  • Trust people—not to be mistake-free, but to truly do their best with the understanding and tools they have. Trust is the single most significant factor predicting people's satisfaction with (and willingness to get involved with) an organization.

  • For Real Estate it's "Location, Location, Location." For church staff it's "Attitude, Attitude, Attitude." There is a world of difference between character, heart issues, (pride, selfishness, resentment, fear, jealousy, etc.) and plain old mistakes and miscalculations. We all have both varieties. Address them differently in your workers' lives.

  • Staffing needs change often—in response to new seasons and priorities in your church.

By Daniel A. Brown, Ph.D. From www.coastlands.org Used with permission of the author.