Things I Didn’t Learn In Seminary Part 3 | Developing Staff

by Hans on July 16, 2013 in Leadership, Ministry, Seminary

This post doesn’t apply to all churches, I know that. Many churches have a single staff member to do everything (to those of you who have that situation, I salute you). The Chapel isn’t that. We have a big staff. Bigger than I even knew. They all serve in a unique role in our church, but all of them are on the team.

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One thing that I seminary gave me almost zero tools for is how to care for this staff.

Don’t get me wrong. My job isn’t to take care of the whole staff. That’s Bruce’s job. Bruce is the new Executive Pastor and he gets to make everything make sense. So really, this whole post should be about how Bruce is probably from Krypton and his dad’s name is Jor-El. I have a team of about four and coordinate with a lot of the other staff, but my inadequacy in caring for these dear people shows itself often.

Some of the issues I’ve had:

  • Caring for Mature Staff: On my little team exists two incredibly godly ladies, Bettejean and Sherry. They’ve been walking with Jesus about as long as I’ve been alive. They minister circles around me, and yet I’m here to help them? That makes next-to-no sense. I learn from them much more than they learn form me. 
  • How to Develop Staff Professionally: Not everyone is an Andy Stanley fan, but he feels that churches should be the best organizations around. I agree. (Cue the people who stopped reading right now because I mentioned Andy Stanley). I want The Chapel to be the best place someone works, but I find it difficult, at times, to help people grow in their role. This ultimately comes back to a discipleship issue. How can I help The Chapel staff become more like Jesus? 
  • Bringing Clarity to Jobs: For all of you young pastors out there, here’s a line that won’t work: “Just do your job.” Confusion about roles, who does what, what’s allowed, and what isn’t allowed—they abound aplenty. I have an incredibly difficult time bringing clarity to people’s roles. This isn’t the case with everyone, but in adequacy abounds.

It isn’t seminary’s job to teach you how to do these things, necessarily. My school gave me the Scriptures, a lot of tools, great insight into the gospel, strong convictions about ministry, and a bunch of books. But there are some small things that I think could’ve been done that would’ve gone a long way. 

  • Tell Me Who to Read: There are people out there like Michael Hyatt and  Thom Rainer who have led people and teams for years (though I’m getting less excited about Hyatt these days–sad face). Giving me people to read isn’t magical, it’s about exposure. I’m ill-equipped to think of these issues, but others aren’t. So point me to them. 
  • Show Me Who Does It Well: There are churches that develop their staffs incredibly well. The Austin Stone does. The Village Church does. Northpoint does. We are nowhere near the size of those churches, so we would definitely do things differently, but show me what a win looks like. I’ve spent hours of my time reading up on how churches such as these care for their staff, equip their staff, etc. 
  • Help Me Develop Convictions About Developing Staff: Staff development plans aren’t magical. They basically answer the question, “How do you hope you grow more like Jesus in your role on staff?” I graduated with very few (read: no) ideas about this. 
  • Teach Me to Pray: This could go for any post, but praying for people, and praying for staff, goes a long way in developing them. If I don’t love them and I don’t pray for them, I’m stuck. 

By God’s grace I am growing in these areas. I have great friends who serve in roles at their own churches and have given me sound advice. I have members of our own church who have spent years of their corporate life developing and coaching people. I stay near them and ask them questions whenever I get a chance. There’s much for me to learn. I wish I could go to seminary now because I feel like I’d profit all the more from it.

But I don’t think Courtney wishes that. . .

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