7 Habits of Highly Effective Church Staff Members

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In order to accomplish the vision God’s given you for your church, you will need a highly effective team. Here are essential traits to look for in potential new hires and to develop within your current team:

Habit #1: They manage time and energy well.

Managing your time and energy well requires discipline and developing good habits.

Time management involves planning your days.

One simple trick is to take the last 5-10 minutes of each workday and write down what you need to do tomorrow. This exercise helps you hit the ground running the next day and helps you start to shift out of work mode (thereby making it easier to relax when you get home).

Managing your energy involves recognizing when you’re the most productive and what tasks energize you.

As Carey Nieuwhof states, “Do what you’re best at when you’re at your best.” He recommends identifying your peak working hours and leveraging those to do the work that energizes you the most during that time.

Habit #2: Spending quality time in the Word.

“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.” – Matthew 14:23

Jesus got away from the crowds and spent time alone with His Father. We need to follow His example. If we’re continually pouring ourselves out, eventually we won’t have anything left to give.

Periodically ask a team member what he’s learned from Scripture recently. If he doesn’t have an answer, ask how his time in the Word is going. This isn’t about clocking in a certain amount of time in Scripture; it’s about making sure your team members are consistently cultivating their relationship with God.

Habit #3: Taking care of him/herself.

When you ask someone how he’s doing, many times you’ll hear he’s really busy. It’s as if being busy is a badge of honor or a sign of how important we are to the church.

There’s also an interesting dynamic in ministry where, in an effort to serve, we feel it’s necessary to completely neglect our own health (spiritual, physical, or otherwise).

Neither mindset is healthy. In fact, both can quickly lead to burning out.

While a strong work ethic is great, it must include the idea that taking care of oneself enables us to do our best work. This doesn’t mean your team should all be marathon runners – it just means they make their health (physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional) a high priority.

Habit #4: They never raise an issue without also presenting potential solutions.

Leading a church or ministry department is challenging enough in itself. The last thing you need is a staff that only brings you problems. A proactive staff member will either fix the problem, or if he needs your input/approval, will mention the issue and a few options for resolving it.

Quick Tip: The next time a staff member mentions a problem without any solutions, ask what she recommends. Don’t let someone get away with just bringing up problems.

Habit #5: They seek to develop and grow professionally.

Regardless of how many years someone has been in ministry, he still has plenty to learn. Encourage your team to seek out development opportunities.

This may include reading books, listening to podcasts, attending conferences, taking classes part-time, or cross-training with another staff member. As much as possible, allocate money in the budget to pay for at least some training for your team.

Habit #6: Praying for fellow church staff members and volunteers.

Many of the New Testament letters begin with a prayer for the recipients.

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” – Colossians 1:9-10

Lead the way on this and pray for your team. Pray for them at the start of staff meetings. Encourage department leaders to pray with and for their teams. As your team develops a habit of praying with and for each other, you’ll likely see them grow closer as a group.

Habit #7: They recruit and appreciate volunteers.

Effective staff members are constantly looking for ways to help people get involved in the church.

They know recruiting volunteers isn’t about getting work done.

Instead, they realize connecting people with opportunities to serve helps them grow in their relationship with Christ, provides an easy way to make new friends within the church, and much more.

When you look at recruiting volunteers from that vantage point, it changes how you invite people to serve.

It’s easy to get so focused on trying to get more volunteers that we neglect those we do have. Wise staff members genuinely appreciate their volunteers and communicate that appreciation. Taking five minutes to write and mail a thank you note is an easy way to encourage, appreciate, and motivate current volunteers.

Before you email this list to your staff and encourage them to develop these habits, here’s an idea for how to present this information to your team:

  • Consider reading Stephen Covey's  “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” with your team. If you don’t want to cover the whole book, at least review the seven habits.
  • Then, open up a discussion and ask what they would consider to be seven highly effective habits as church staff. They’ll come up with items that aren’t on this list (and that’s a good thing!) but they’ll likely also offer up a few similar habits as well.
  • Agree upon a list of seven as a team and then discuss a habit each week for the next seven weeks.
    • How do we practically implement/develop this habit?
    • Who on the team recently demonstrated this habit and how?
  • Get them involved in the process of developing their own list and holding each other accountable for developing the habits.

Look for these habits as you bring new people onto the team and seek to develop them with your current staff. When you develop these habits together, you’ll grow closer as a team and will be even more effective in ministry.

Becoming an Effective Church Staff

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