How to Lead and Develop your Church Staff

Caring for existing customers is widely seen as a better investment than finding new ones in the business world. (It costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one – Bain & Company.)  Perhaps there is a lesson here for churches. In the church world, developing your current staff is often a better investment than searching for and hiring new staff.

The very best staff person might be the one who is already on your team.

How to lead and develop your staff

In order for your church staff to truly reach its potential, each person must be invested in and developed. One of the chief roles of a lead pastor is to be an equipper-leader developer. (Ephesians 4) Many pastors, however, are unsure how to effectively lead and develop their staff members. The failure to invest in and develop staff members will lead to frustration (both yours and theirs) and a lack of staff effectiveness. A lead pastor who feels frustrated with a member of his staff should ask himself if he has intentionally led and developed this staff member. Whether you have one part-time staff person or 5 full-time staff people, here are 3 steps to get started with leading and developing your church staff:

1. Make sure that every person on your team has a clear job description.

One of the signs of a miserable job is the lack of a clear job description. Every person on your team has the right to know what he is expected to do, what he is being held accountable to, and what success looks like for him. What should you do if no one has a clear job description?  One way to get started with this process is to give each staff member a template and have him write his job description. You might be surprised in comparing how a staff member perceives his role in comparison to how you perceive it. Your aim is to reach agreement on exactly what the staff member is expected to do. Asking a staff member to write his job description empowers him to own the process of helping to bring clarity to his role. Once every person has a clear and written job description, the next step is consistent follow-up, evaluation, and dialogue. To do this well:

2.  Don’t directly oversee more than 3-4 staff people.

Many leaders oversee too many people. You can’t directly oversee 6 or 7 people and effectively develop each one. Having no more than 3-4 direct reports will allow you to develop each to his/her potential. If you have more than 3-4 people on your staff, empower your best leader(s) to invest in and develop others on your team. Personally oversee only 3-4. Now that you oversee 3-4 people with crystal clear written job descriptions:

3. Consistently meet with each of your direct reports.

You will not effectively develop anyone without spending time with them.  How often should I meet individually with those I oversee? I suggest an hour-long, one on one, twice monthly meeting.  When you meet, commit to:

  • Ask what is going well in their area of ministry. (Celebrate and Encourage)
  • Ask where they are struggling. (Coach and help them move forward)
  • Ask how you can help them. (Your role is to help them be successful)
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Give regular feedback to each person. (See, 7 Reasons people stop serving)
  • Assess each person quarterly according to her job description.
  • Adjust job descriptions quarterly according to the current reality.
  • Correct when necessary. (We grow through correction.) Avoiding that hard conversation won’t make it go away.

There is much more to say about how to lead and develop your staff but get started by implementing the three principles above.  More to come in my next post!

What are your thoughts? Comment and continue the conversation!

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Posted by Brian Howard

My focus is to help YOU move forward one step at a time. I write about church excellence, personal productivity, and family leadership. I coach leaders, start churches, and help organizations break growth barriers. My goal is to draw on this experience to help YOU move forward in life, leadership, and productivity.

  1. thanks man… i needed that.

    Reply

  2. […] Brian Howard lists three ways to lead and develop your church staff: […]

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  3. Jordan, I am not talking about lay leaders here but about direct reports. This is more about management rather than development. You can definitely develop more than 3-4 people. But if you are in a supervisory capacity with paid staff, not more than 3-4 direct reports.

    Reply

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