Many young church staff members I know are continually looking for their next place of service. Sometimes that's because their calling has changed. In more cases, though, it's because they're struggling with the church or its leadership.
On the other hand, I've also been with young staff members who love their church and prayerfully want to remain there as long as they can. Here are some of the motivating factors that make them want to stay:
- They believe in the church's vision and leadership. You might hope these would be assumed for any staff member, but that's not always the case. Young staff members stay where they believe in what they're doing, know where they're going and trust who they're following.
- They actually have a relationship with their senior leader. That leader is not just the Sunday-morning preacher who casts vision from a distance in a staff meeting; he's a genuine friend who knows his staff by name.
- They're accountable for their work, but nobody micromanages them. They know they must—and want to—answer for their work, but they seldom feel stifled in what they do. Leaders give them the freedom to lead their respective teams and ministries.
- Within reason, they know they have a "safety net" should they not always succeed. Crossing some lines, of course, would result in their dismissal, but they know their leaders have their back. They're not afraid to take a risk on a new strategy when they know they're not alone.
- The entire staff serve together as a team. They know each other, communicate with each other, affirm each other, support each other's work and confront each other when needed to maintain healthy relationships. Ministry silos may still exist, but the staff works hard to reduce them.
- Their families are part of their ministry. Their spouses are directly involved in their work, albeit in different ways and at varied levels. Seldom does a spouse feel left out of the church's work.
- Church leaders plan times of fellowship and fun for the staff. They enjoy laughing with each other, and they budget both time and dollars to have fun together. They see a staff day at the amusement park or at the lake as a wise investment.
- The church works hard to provide for them financially. That commitment doesn't mean that young couples never struggle with too few dollars, but it does mean that the leadership prioritizes paying them their worth.
If you're a young staff member who's chosen to stay in a place, what would you add? If you're a senior leader, what positive steps have you taken to keep the staff you want?
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
For the original article, visit chucklawless.com.
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