How You Can Make Your Church a Healthier Place to Work

Is your staff experiencing a spiritual crisis right under your nose?

When Sara (not her real name) first approached me, she had been on staff for less than six months. She was resourceful and effective in her role as an administrative assistant to one of our pastors. We had hired Sara from within the congregation because she was smart, competent, and a faithful volunteer who loved the church. I was completely unprepared to discover that serving on our staff was damaging her faith.

With emotion welling up in her eyes, she attempted to articulate why this new role was causing a spiritual crisis. She confessed that being on staff had led her to a crisis of faith. Although Sara couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was affecting her so negatively, as we spoke, I realized she was trying to express a sense of loss. She felt like she had lost her church and her pastor. Her experience working on a church staff was nothing like she had imagined it would be, and now she was disillusioned.

I was floored. I couldn’t believe someone on our staff felt that way. I spoke with other church staff members from around the country and discovered many of them felt the same way. They thought serving on staff at a church would be a spiritual opportunity, but it somehow become a spiritual obstacle.

These staff members were experiencing something I had grown accustomed to: church work can be hard on your soul! Over the years, I developed the skills necessary to care for my soul amid the demands of ministry. However, many of our support and technical staff were joining with little or no training in that area. When they encountered the challenges of working on a church staff, they were unprepared to deal with the loss of several essential components in their spiritual growth. Their pastor became their boss, their church became their workplace, and their work felt less spiritual than they anticipated. These losses led to a crisis of faith.

As my leadership team considered these challenges facing our staff, we began to formulate a response. We identified and implemented three cultural shifts to counteract the perceived losses.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Scott Whaley