It’s been my experience that most staff members in churches feel under-appreciated.
Feel free to correct me.
What you may not know is how it feels from the other side of the desk.
As a Lead Pastor, I often struggle with limited resources to make our church’s paid and volunteer teams feel loved on. It’s honestly less about me feeling appreciated and more about how restrained I feel in being able to love on leaders.
Sometimes saying “thank you” needs to be felt and not just heard.
Steven Furtick (pastor of Elevation Church) wrote an inspiring article early in his ministry about the lengths he wanted his church to go to appreciate its staff.
The various values he proposed at the time include:
- Provide lunch for the families of Directional Staff every Sunday. “It’s a long and grueling day, and since many of these couples rarely get to sit together in a worship experience, the least we can do is ensure that they don’t have to worry about what to cook when they get home.”
- Pay all expenses for each couple to attend a marriage conference. “An investment in the marriage of our leaders is an investment in the health of our church.”
- An attorney provided estate planning for all Directional Staff families. He did this “to make sure that the leaders of the church have their houses in order, at no expense.”
- All staff are required (not advised) to take one Sunday off from their ministry areas per quarter. “This helps refresh perspective and reenergize performance.”
- We pay well. “We bonus generously based on performance. We offer great benefits and retirement plan options. We resource well, via books, conference budgets, etc. We celebrate a lot, finding as many ways to reward the sacrifice of these leaders as possible.”
Does anything remotely happen like this for you?
On the other end, how are you appreciating others around you in every direction – those above you, below you and side-to-side in how your ministry plays out?
What do you think it looks like to appreciate each other on a budget?
5 thoughts on “Senior Pastor Perspective: A Lack of Appreciation?”
As a pastor’s wife, I really appreciate the marriage conference idea and would also like to see churches pay for the expenses for a spouse to attend conferences that the pastor is required or suggested to attend. It’s a blessing for the pastor to attend these conferences but a burden on the family if they must pick up the tab for the spouse or kids to attend as well.
Good article, thanks!
That’s a great insight, CJ. It does seem to be hard to balance out what’s asked versus what’s invested. Appreciate the comment!
If I was the senior at most the churches I worked at and this was the bar, I would give up. Most churches are a far ways from this. But I think there are some practical things that they can do:
1. Pay as well as you can. I watch young youth workers get lowballed and part of the “Jump as soon as you can” mentality is that they aren’t being paid fairly. If you can’t afford a reasonable, full time salary, then hire someone bi-vocationally or people will leave. A lot.
2. When you can’t give raises, figure out other fair compensation. I am at a spot in my career that with extra vacation, I can generate a ton of extra income by speaking at camps. (My current church doesn’t see this as part of my ministry with and to them, which is perfectly okay.) So vacation days instead of a raise would be a fair trade off.
3. Honor and respect their families. I am not married. Nor will I be. But I watch friends who suffer much when their church isn’t honoring of their families. And I watch them go to war for said church when they do honor their parents. For example, if you are the senior and catch wind of someone badmouthing a staff person’s spouse, roll up your sleeves and forcefully put an end to it.
4. Budget money for their growth. Continuing education and growth experiences are a necessary part of the job. Budget for them. I would say at least 2 a year unless your whole staff does an event together. Then 1 a year is sufficient.
5. Know what they are paying out of pocket. All of us are at some point. Honor that commitment and work towards having a real, honest budget of what it costs to do ministry. To put it another way, your youth worker shouldn’t be buying the bagels out of his own pocket every Sunday morning.
Great thoughts, Jason. I imagine #2 is easier to swallow if you know about it going in. And likewise, that #4 will account for it someday.