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Four Staff Values

Four Staff Values

Jon Delger

Executive Pastor

Peace Church

Published On:

November 16, 2023

Whenever we hire a new staff member, the final interview is with the Executive Pastor (me) and the Lead Pastor. This meeting is actually less of an interview and more of an interactive speech. Our goal in this meeting is to clearly communicate, one last time, who we are and what it will be like to join this team. We are strictly focused on the most important indicator of success for our staff: culture-fit.

My contribution to this conversation is to share four descriptors of our staff. I have shared these four descriptors many times over the last few years, and I think they are values worth sharing. They may transfer directly to your situation or they may inspire thoughts of how to describe your own staff culture.

1) Truth in Love

In my experience, most churches fall to one side or the other of the truth-love spectrum. On the one hand, some churches preach the truth loudly, clearly, and heartlessly. They have their doctrinal i’s dotted and t’s crossed. But from sitting in their pews, you would think they care nothing for the world or for helping the world come to understand and appreciate those truths.

On the other hand, some churches try so hard to be seen as preaching and demonstrating love that they capitulate to a worldly definition of love that lacks truth. They work tirelessly to care for people and to avoid offending people. But from sitting in their Sunday worship experiences, you wouldn’t know that the Bible teaches some things that are very offensive to our world.

At this church, we seek to live out both truth and love the way Jesus did. We speak the truth loud, clear, and unapologetically. We believe that actually, the most loving thing you can do for someone is to tell them the truth. We also care deeply for people and want to make sure that if they are offended, it is by the truth of the Bible and not our careless words or tone. We bend over backward to extend loving hospitality in any way we can.

Not only is this true on Sundays, but this is also true in the office. We do not lie to each other about performance or results. We tell the truth and face hard truths. At the same time, we seek to be one of the most encouraging places you could work. We smile, we say please and thank you, we write encouragement cards, we stop and pray for each other, and we drop what we are doing to pick up a teammate who is down.

2) Hopelessly Optimistic

I have been part of some workplaces that are cynical and I have been part of some that are downright pessimistic. When management rolls out a new initiative or goal, the staff rolls their eyes - ‘Here we go again, the strategy-to-inspire of the week.’ When things go wrong, they get down and give up. That’s not how we operate here.

The people who work here believe in their bones that what we do matters eternally and they would give their right arm to see us accomplish our goals. If an outsider sat in some of our staff meetings, they might think we are crazy. We talk about serious challenges and outlandish possibilities, and then we pray, clap, cheer, and go do it. When things go wrong, we don’t bicker and blame, we solve it and move forward with joy. We are hopelessly, if not crazily, optimistic.

3) Act our Size

You may have heard it said - Act your age. Well, we have another slogan here - act our size. Churches of different sizes act differently. Events or systems that make sense for a church of 200, don’t make sense for a church of 2000, and vice-versa. One size is not better than another, they are simply different, and leaders need to recognize that.

In a smaller church, you might hold an after-church potluck where everyone brings a dish to share, and everyone chips in to help set up tables and chairs after the service. In a large church with a commercial kitchen, you have to follow health codes, plan to make sure you have enough food, schedule volunteers to arrange seating, and attend the parking lot.

In a larger church, most events are planned 12 months in advance, and there is probably a minimum of 6-month lead time for a sizable event. In a larger church, there is a process of approvals to get events on the calendar and to schedule announcements. In a smaller church, you can plan an event on shorter notice and ask the pastor to make an announcement on Sunday.

As our staff makes decisions, we remember to act appropriately to our size, whatever that size might be.

4) Scrappy & Stretchy

This is my personal favorite.

We are a larger church in a smaller town. The Lord has blessed us and provided for us abundantly, and we have absolutely nothing to complain about. And yet, for our staff who meet with staff of other large churches in the city, it is worth realizing that there are some differences, including financial differences. Because of our context, I think of us as the underdogs. We have to be scrappy. We make the absolute most out of everything we have and we are proud of that fact. This breeds innovation and careful stewardship in ministry. We also let our staff know that we have chosen to invest primarily in them. More valuable than a large ministry budget is having an amazing leader. We trust that if our staff is on the job, then it doesn’t matter how much or little they have to work with, they will make it an opportunity for disciples to be made.

Because we are also a rapidly growing church, we face continual change. Our staff have to be able to stretch, flex, and adapt. Some of us have moved offices more than 5 times in the last 3 years. Some of our staff work with 4 or more people in an office designed for 1. We take it all with a smile because God is growing his church and we are blessed to be part of it.

I hope that by hearing these staff values, you will be better able to see, describe, and protect your own staff culture.

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