I recently took a new employee at my church out to lunch. It was the end of his first week working as our Business Manager. He is a great guy and came to us from a position in the banking industry. During our lunch conversation, I asked him what he thought some differences were in the industry that he came from and working in a ministry. He responded by saying that while he had been busy that week, there was less tangible stuff to produce - less reports, less matrix boxes to check off, and less bottom line numbers and results to look at. I smiled and let him know that he was well on the way to understanding one of the fundamental truths of church work: What you produce for the church has value, but your value to the church is you.
It can be tough to find and hire great church workers. The pay is often lower than public sector employment and the hours longer. A good church hire is finding someone with the skills needed to complete the tasks associated with the job. The best hire a church can make is someone who amplifies the desired culture.
Churches need to look for workers who people naturally look up to and who have the character to lead in a ministry setting. Sometimes this sets up a dichotomy in the hiring process. There are legitimate business tasks that need to be accomplished. Yet, there is a ministry to lead. What if you can’t find someone who can do both? Keep looking. This is often easier said than done. It is tough leaving a job unfilled while you look for a more ideal candidate. I promise it is worth it in the end.
While churches often struggle with finding value in both what a worker produces and the value of the character of the person filling the role, the real struggle often happens in the mind of the worker. Not being clear about what is most important leads to worry, stress, and anxiety in those who work in the church. There is a constant tension between getting the list of tasks accomplished and sending time and effort in improving ourself and our character. If you are a church worker, read the following set of questions and statements to help clarify what your value is to the church.
Is there value in the spreadsheet the the church accountant produces? Sure.
Is there value in the clean floor that the custodian produces? Sure.
Is there value in the lesson taught by the Children’s minister? Sure.
Is there value in the servant event that your Youth minister arranged? Sure.
Is there value in the sermon you preached? Sure.
Is there value in what you produce? Sure.
Your value is in the example you set for others.
Your value is modeling the life of a disciple.
Your value is in empowering others to feel valued.
Your value is being there when you are needed.
Your value is the unique perspective that you bring to the table.
Your value is found in just being you - it is likely the reason you were hired.
As a church worker, your greatest value to the church is your relationship with Jesus, His Church, and His people. Any task that interferes with that is of no value to the church.