“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
Before I was called into full-time ministry, God called me to serve in the church. Through serving and seeking His will for my life, He called me from volunteering to a part-time ministry position and then a full-time ministry position. Sometimes the relationships were excellent. Sometimes my relationship with the staff was better than the congregation. Other times, my relationship with the congregation was better than the staff.
As a volunteer or part-time church leader, it is challenging enough to balance family, a full-time job, and your church ministry. Also, you must at least try to communicate with your Pastor on goals, plans, and the vision of your ministry from week to week. But what do you do when your Pastor is not an effective staff manager, but excellent communicator of God’s Word? Moreover, what do you do when you struggle with communication/leadership skills yourself?
In my opinion, you cannot lead an effective ministry without having excellent people skills and communication skills. If you cannot communicate with a small staff, how can you communicate to a large congregation?
I recently polled a few area ministers on this topic and asked for some personal insight to things they learned while traveling down the road of ministry. Together, we will share our Bible-based answers to attempt to help you as a volunteer or part-time church leader with your church staff relationships (in no particular order).
- The Golden Rule. Treat others as you would want to be treated (Luke 6:31). At home, work, church, Wal-Mart, and on and on, we should always treat others with respect and humility. Sometimes, we have off days. We are human. But for the majority of our time, respect rules.
- Quench the Conflict. There is nothing worse than conflict gone unresolved. The issue dwells within you and takes over your thoughts, work, family, and those close to you. All conflict is resolved in one way or another. You resolve it Biblically (Matthew 18:15-20), or it affects you to such a degree that you are unable to fulfill your ministerial duties and you leave the church or are asked to leave.
- Meet and Greet. Meetings held incorrectly are bad. Meetings held correctly change your life. I believe you should meet weekly with your staff to spend time together praying & discussing the ministries of the church. Even if it’s for 15-20 over a cup of coffee. Go beyond sharing specific dates we need to keep clear on the calendar. Encourage once another and share things that are going well as well as things the group could continue to work on. Steps like this can build strength & unity within the staff & help them be on the same page as far as the vision & purpose of the church. Jesus and His disciples met, prayed, and shared together…follow His example (Matthew 26:17-30).
- Can You Hear Me Now? Keep the lines of communication open. To be a strong, united staff you must be able to openly talk about ministries and issues – even when it’s difficult and you don’t necessarily agree with each other (Ephesians 4:15).
- Be a Shield…not a Stone Thrower. A person who’s working as a volunteer or bi-vocational already probably feels as if they’re not devoting enough time to their ministry. Unfortunately in ministry, it’s alot easier to get beaten up sometimes than it is to be encouraged. Show your appreciation for their efforts … give them constructive criticism if there are areas where they need help … little things like this can make a world of difference (Isaiah 41:10).
- Practice Makes
Perfect…You Better. Allow them opportunities/resources to be trained & increase their effectiveness in ministry. Look for ways you can help them to grow & better themselves in what they are doing. Help them to seek out training and/or education (if needed) to become a more effective leader (Colossians 3:23).
- Peace and Love. Be prayerful patient in your changes in all ministries. Also, love your people. Love them for who they are and because God has called you to serve with them. (Matthew 6:33)
- See the BIG Picture. I am weak. I am broken. I have faults. I have failed. Knowing that, I also have God-given strengths. My weaknesses may be strengths to my Youth Pastor. And vice versa, his weaknesses may be my strengths. God puts a staff in place to work together for His glory (Jeremiah 29:11).
- FORE! Have fun together outside of the church walls. Take the time to attempt to get together once a year, once a month, or whenever for lunch, a staff retreat, a round of golf, a family outing to a movie, or couples dinner date to enjoy conversation and enjoyment outside of the walls of the church (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
- United We Stand. A lot more can be accomplished for the kingdom when all the wheels of ministry are moving in the same direction (Psalm 133:1). Believe in one another and trust one another. Staff growth comes from trusting one another to do the job God called them there to do…not micromanaging. Pastors shouldn’t administrate the church staff. They are called to other responsibilities.
- Kill ‘Em With Kindness. It’s hard to take criticism, advice, or anything from someone you don’t have a relationship with. Work hard to be kind and show respect, even if you aren’t receiving it back. And remember that above all else, the Pastor is the leader of the church as long as the vision he is using is from the Lord. Jesus is the Head of the church (Ephesians 5:23), but the Pastor is the overseer (I Timothy 3:1, I Timothy 5:17). Obey God by obeying the vision of the Pastor. If the Pastor is doing something that is not Biblical, then follow the Biblical conflict outline from Matthew 18.
- Communication Rules. Communicating by phone, e-mail and social networking are great tools. But, if you do not meet, attempt to see your Pastor at least once a week in person other than the worship service. Try to communicate early and often to your leadership team. If you are part-time/bi-vocational, this is a HUGE help to the full-time staffers. Even though you are not here through the week, you still have ways to communicate. And vice versa, the full-time leadership team should communicate to the part-timers through taking staff meeting minutes, the Pastor meeting the part-timers for lunch, or through e-mail.
- Prayer is the Key…all of the ministers polled said prayer is vital. This is encouraging to me. I love the fact that the local ministers (both full-time and part-time) hold prayer important as a staff. This tells me they haven’t always had that luxury and missed it, as well as they have had it before and have reaped its benefits (1 Thessalonians 5:17).