Does ‘living epistles’ describe your staff? (Part 2)

By Paul Clark

“You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3:3).

As we said last month, leading a staff is demanding. It’s dynamic, relational, highly spiritual and biblical. It often creates the dividing line between pastors that can successfully grow a church from those who struggle to break through a membership ceiling. As the church grows, either a staff will grow with it and flourish or a staff will become mired in problems, dysfunction and ineffectiveness.

In the next few paragraphs, let me address three of the critical factors that help create a staff environment where “living epistles” can be written.

Coaching: Learn how to be a top-notch coach. Jesus coached as he lived with and discipled the twelve. Not only will it enrich your own life, but also you will be making an investment in the Kingdom that will outlast you. Learn how to give effective feedback, how to confront when necessary, how to manage conflict, how to practice effective listening, and how to communicate your ideas in ways that people can understand.

Motivation: It’s been said that the best way to motivate people is to find out what they want and what they need to be successful and to help them get it. Some key factors in motivation:

  1. Assimilation – do they feel a part of the culture, the vision and the organization? In one recent conversation with a staff member I heard them relate how they just didn’t feel a part of the team or the organization and how that feeling was creating difficulty in engaging in their work in a healthy way. They were not assimilated into the organization or the team.
  2. Empowerment – do they have what they need to be successful? We ascribe lots of responsibility to staff, but do we give them the authority and the power to make it happen? I too often see “dirty delegation” handed out – responsibility without authority.
  3. Adequate direction – do they have a clear understanding of expectations, deliverables, and boundaries? So much can happen that creates difficulty understanding expectations. Job descriptions, weekly meetings, real-time coaching and transparent conversations can create the clear direction that a staff member needs.
  4. Involvement – are they involved in the process, especially in a team environment? Lots have been written about the value-added in using teams. But even in a team environment, centralized decision-making can stifle an employee’s sense of inclusion.

Performance evaluation: Churches do a really bad job of this – maybe it’s because we value grace and unity so much that we tend to shy away from situations that can cause conflict.  We should schedule regular performance reviews that are objective and honest. I prefer a series of weekly touch points where both affirmation and constructive criticism can happen naturally rather than the traditional annual performance appraisal. Find a system that works for you and use it consistently.  It doesn’t have to be complex; it just has to open the door to honest dialogue.

Paul Clark is pastor of ministry environments/operations at Fairhaven Church, Centerville, OH. He has served in the areas of church administration and operations for 18 years. His passion is to translate great vision into organizational reality, sharing his thoughts and ideas at and @paultclark Twitter account.


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