by Mel Delaney.

We all know, as individual Christians, that our witness starts with teaching and maintaining healthy relationships in the home. If our own house is not in order, any witness in our church or community can quickly crumble.

The same is true in the local church. Envision the leadership team and supporting staff members as the core “family.” The extent to which the church office reflects Christian values and relationships will correspond closely to the effectiveness of Christian witness and outreach from the church as a whole. If leaders pay only lip service to this fact, negative reverberations will cripple the overall effect of good intentions.

Here are eight areas for every church’s ministerial and support staff to take seriously, even though on the face of it they may not sound especially “spiritual.”

1. Constitution and governance
In addition to a church’s key scriptural elements (“non-negotiables”), the constitution needs to be absolutely clear on the legal parameters of leadership responsibility. Who takes care of spiritual concerns, and who takes care of fiduciary and financial concerns? What do elders do? What do deacons do? What is the difference between the two? If the government law requires an official “board of governors” for the church body, who sits on this board, and what are its parameters?

The senior pastor, of course, should be the chief elder. But he or she, being a paid staff member of the church, cannot have a vote on whatever board controls the church finances. However, this must not limit the senior pastor’s role as the chief visionary. He or she must communicate that vision so that the rest of the team, staff, and lay leaders will internalize the vision in their own hearts and then use every creative, God-inspired method to bring that vision to fruition.

2. Personnel, leadership and administrative policies
Everyone functions best when they know from the beginning the core expectations of their position. Personnel policies should be front and center in the church’s Policies and Procedures Manual. Written position descriptions and general expectations for relating within the leadership structure are crucial to the healthy helm of a growing, vibrant church.

In our church’s personnel policy section, we include:
1. Pastoral and Ministry Staff Guidelines
2. Support Staff Requirements and Guidelines
3. Staff Conduct and Confidentiality
4. Statutory Holidays, Vacation Time, Leave Requests and Sick Leave
5. Group Benefit Plan
6. Communication and Reception Guidelines
7. Purchasing Procedures
8. Terms of Departure
9. Guidelines for Determining Ministry Priorities and Employee Effectiveness to Meet Primary Ministry Goals
10. Legal Issues Concerning Perceived “Counselling” Activities

(For a full table of contents of the Living Stones Policies and Procedures Manual, see the end of this article. To buy a copy of the manual, go to: and click on “Resources.”

Leadership includes such things as communicating clearly to staff and the congregation what was decided in meetings. Similarly, staff need to know priority and directions for dealing with benevolent applications. Once the leadership has decided the parameters for usage of all church facilities, procedures must be made clear to all employees so they can communicate clearly and fairly to everyone.

Good policies, written with clarity and fairness, go a long way in making the office staff’s work a pleasure. Any staff member with clear direction and consistent leadership support will thrive in this family atmosphere of caring. If, however, a staff member has to make a decision without guidelines, then the leadership must be prepared to take the blame. They also might want to ask the staff member for recommendations for a better process to help in the future.

All of these things reinforce a familiar adage that might be adapted to leadership/staff relationships: “If the office staff ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”

3. Excellence and patience in hiring
This area is extremely important. Leaders must be united on the priority skills required for any pastoral, ministry or support staff position. In a large church, the elders need to be integrally involved when it comes to choosing pastoral and ministry staff. Support staff hiring is best left to the senior staff, working within the budget parameters set by the board.

In our experience, waiting for the God-intended person has meant many hours on our knees in prayer, with intended deadlines often waived! However, patience to await God’s timing is always best. The importance of hiring the right person for the job cannot be overemphasized.

To assist us in selecting leaders at all levels, paid staff or volunteers, our Elders have produced a policy entitled “Lifestyle and Morality Standards.” (This is also used, by the way, as the measuring stick for approving facility usage.)

4. Eliminate personality conflicts with good planning
If a church leadership team waits until an issue arises to figure out a plan to address it, the situation is too emotionally charged. Any solution still open at that point is often extremely limited in effectiveness. Before a crisis, leaders need to talk about “What should happen if…”

Whether the scenario is one of developing and adding ministries or downsizing staff to meet a financial crunch, well-documented priorities, intentions and procedures go a long way toward win-win results.

5. Annual goal setting and performance appraisals
Staff members are happiest if they know they are able to contribute in their areas of strength and personal interest. If a person has agreed to take on responsibilities outside their “wired” passions, the expectations must be clear about attainable goals so that any possible frustration is reduced. Everyone is motivated when they know their efforts are appreciated and that any failure is treated as an opportunity to make adjustments toward future successes.

Daily or weekly encouragement of staff will produce unlimited mileage toward a satisfied working atmosphere. A time of honest appraisal of the past year’s performance and goal setting for the future allows the supervisor to rejoice and give accolades more formally to the staff member.

The leadership team also needs to assess the overall ministry needs of the church. During such a discussion, it may seem advisable to enlarge the scope of one area or make room for a weaker area to blossom under different leadership.

6. Regular staff meetings for communication, praise reports and prayer concerns
Taking our home analogy one step further, we can say that “the church staff that prays together stays together”! We have found that weekly staff meetings can help both administratively and relationally. On occasion, the staff meeting starts with a praise report and one major prayer concern from our area of ministry. We can best understand one another from both our successes and our heart burdens.

Tremendous strength is gained in knowing we can pour our hearts out to God and gain collegiality through this part of the team building, from administrative support people to the Senior Pastor. We try to emphasize that nobody is more important than the other and we depend upon the health and spiritual support of one another.

7. Weekly staff chapel
A highlight of each week happens when we gather early, before the general office opens. Each week, someone on the staff takes a turn sharing a brief teaching, personal experience, Scripture text or lesson that God seems to be telling him or her. Again, the worth of every staff member, maintenance person, or janitor is seen as equal to any other member of the team. We have had many times of fellowship and prayer where the vial of oil comes out to anoint the staff member or a family member, as well as for situations arising in our church family.

8. Planning ahead
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed…Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed…Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 15:22; 16:3, 24).

Since every individual is of extreme importance to God, no matter what role he or she fills in the ministry, church leaders must value their peers and staff members with the same honor and respect. Instead of using the business world’s form of “constructive criticism,” Christian leaders must take the higher road of giving honest praise and encouragement in areas of strength and offering caring advice and corresponding support for alternatives when that becomes necessary.

May the leadership of our churches show the love of Christ in all his caring for each team member. Let our love in action be a great model and witness to the rest of the congregation and our communities at large.

Mel Delaney is business administrator at Living Stones Church, Red Deer, Alberta. He also serves as an elder.

The following is the table of contents from the Living Stones Church Policy and Procedures Manual. As such, it gives an example of the territory to be covered in such documents. (This manual is available for purchase in the “Resources” section of

I.1 Pastoral and Ministry Staff Guidelines
I.2 Support Staff Requirements and Guidelines
I.3 Staff Conduct and Confidentiality
I.4 Statutory Holidays, Vacation Time, Leave Requests, and Sick Leave
I.5 Travel Allowance
I.6 Group Benefit Plan
I.7 Personnel Records
I.8 Communication and Reception Guidelines
I.9 Purchasing Procedures / Credit Card Usage
I.10 Contract Personnel
I.11 Terms of Departure
I.12 Guidelines for Determining Ministry Priorities and Employee Effectiveness to Meet Primary Ministry Goals
1.13 Legal Issues Concerning Perceived “Counselling” Activities


II.1 Conduct
II.2 Leadership Meetings
II.2.1 Minutes
II.2.2 Communication to Staff
II.2.3 Deacon Portfolios
II.2.4 Nomination and Election of Chair / Vice Chair
II.3 Contribution Records
II.4 General Insurance
II.5 External Communication
II.6 Leadership Development
II.7 Missions Policy
II.8 Benevolence Policy
II.9 Use of Church Kitchens
II.10 Designation of Offerings


III.1 Lifestyle and Morality Standards
III.2 Wedding Policy
III.3 Membership Application and Records
III.4 Licensing and Ordination of Pastors
III.5 Visits from Media to Meetings and Services of Worship
III.6 Baptism Policy
III.7 Altar Ministry
III.8 Disruptive Behavior in the Church
III.9 Exit Interviews
III.10 Qualifications for Leadership


IV.1 Facility Security Systems
IV.2 Communication Through Announcements, Bulletins, Bulletin Boards, and Mail Table
IV.3 Use of Office Equipment
IV.4 Facility Usage
IV.4.1 General Facility Usage
Procedures Updates
Church Usage Outside LSC Ministries
Special Facilities or Events
LSC Facility Use Application/Agreement
IV.4.2 Evacuations / Safety Procedures
IV.4.3 Facility Limitations (updated with City Fire Marshall)
IV.5 Loan / Rental / Other Usage of Furniture, Equipment, Curriculum and Books, or Expendable Supplies
IV.6 Guest Speaker Policy
IV.7 Guest Music Policy
IV.8 Work Site Behavior, Safety and Liability


VI.1 Communion Serving Procedure
VI.2 Nursery Handbook
VI.3 Funeral Planning and Procedures

VII.1 Benevolence
VII.2 Facility Use Application / Agreement
VII.3 Missions Committee Forms


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