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Working in a church is one of the few careers where you find genuine relationships centered around the most intimate of topics — an individual’s walk with God. However, even in a predominantly uplifting environment, human nature will still cause strife and trials among staff. A career in ministry does not prevent coworking environment challenges.
Below we cover four church staff challenges that many teams face and offer advice on how you can overcome them.
Four Church Staff Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Challenge 1: Holding onto Traditions and Resisting Change
According to this infographic by Barna, one of the biggest church challenges pastors face when leading a team is resistance to change. When a church poses new ideas, tenured staff often have difficulty accepting changes to traditions on which the church was built.
How to Overcome It: Open and Consistent Dialogue
Communication around the benefits of the change in question is crucial. Work individually with staff to help them identify the effect(s) on their roles. Walk through any concerns over the changes being presented and address why they need to occur. Moving away from a long-held tradition can be a difficult concept to grasp, so ensure staff feels validated and heard.
Challenge 2: Theological Disagreements
Not only do staff members have to deal with general coworking differences, but they may also deal with differences in theology. Theological beliefs are one of the most personal and strongly held elements of religion; therefore, they have the ability to cause significant strife in relationships. Even minor variances in doctrinal conviction can create division.
How to Overcome It: Hire Carefully and Encourage Healthy Dialogue
One of the best ways to address this is to combat it as you hire staff. Thorough interview processes should explore more than just technical skills and education. Look for candidates whose values and beliefs align with those upheld by your congregation. Also, encourage frequent, open dialogue about theology and Christian life. Your church staff should consistently work with each other to deepen their understanding of and relationships with Christ.
Challenge 3: Too Much Work and Not Enough Staff
Too often churches function on a tight budget, which means functioning on a lean staffing structure. Employees may fill multiple roles and perform extra duties within the church, leaving them tired and burnt out.
How to Overcome It: Provide Times of Rest
Ensure your staff receives adequate breaks. Team members often work during the weekend, so make sure they have ample time off during the week. Don’t forget to include time away for pastors (check out ideas for pastor retreats here).
Also, offer opportunities for staff to take mental breaks throughout the day. Encourage times of prayer and meditation, or opportunities to get outside for fresh air and exercise. According to Fast Company, getting your mindset back on track is crucial before “tweaking your work habits.”
Lastly, be on the lookout for technological tools that can relieve the pressure faced by your staff. There are constantly new systems to ease the burden your staff feels.
Challenge 4: Sinful Human Nature
This one is a doozy. The corporate world is rampant with displays of our sinful nature: lying, gossiping, cheating, stealing, using people for personal gain, etc. As Christians, we strive to rise above and eliminate these corrupt tendencies. However, we are all sinners. As such, these challenges will creep in.
How to Overcome it: Clear Expectations for Conduct + Create A Safe Space
First, establish clear expectations of conduct and have repeated dialogues about them. Provide a safe space and ample opportunities for individuals to address issues that may be causing strife.
Secondly, and more importantly, hold staff accountable. Moral attitudes and comfortable work environments are great, but, any apparent good in these areas is for naught without a strong and consistently reinforced Christian character. You and your team members must be reliant on prayer and Spirit-filled patience and love to battle daily against the sins and negative attitudes we all face.
After living overseas, Ashley DeKock developed a passion for ministry and writing, which she loves to incorporate into each of her projects. She holds a bachelors and masters degree in communications and finds great joy in learning people’s life stories. Currently residing in Oklahoma, she and her husband have one daughter and are continuing to grow their family through adoption.