Most pastor’s job descriptions are utterly ridiculous, and then utterly forgotten. They are used during the job interview, then filed away never to be used again.
This is a huge mistake.
A clear job description, regularly reviewed, can help keep everyone focused and working toward the same mission.
If you want to create a realistic and effective job description, here are four things you must include.
#1 – Context
People need to know how their job connects with the mission and vision of the church. Every job description should start with those things. Don’t give people a list of responsibilities without first talking about why they matter.
People also need job context. They need to know where they fit on the team. They need to clearly understand who they work for, who works for them and who they influence. That’s why every job description needs to include an org chart showing clear lines of authority.
#2 – Areas of Responsibilities
An effective job description has a clear list of responsibilities that are specific and important.
When my wife and I were shopping for a house, we made a list of what we must have and what would be nice to have. We didn’t even look at any houses that didn’t have our MUST haves. And we factored in the NICE TO HAVE stuff when making the final decision. Church job descriptions often mix these things, giving a ridiculous list of responsibilities and then leaving it up to
When you make a list of job responsibilities, keep it realistic and make sure it’s clear. Just to cover all bases, a lot of job descriptions add something like “other duties as described by your supervisor” to the end of the list. It’s there as if to say, “We’ve tried to list every random thing that might be useful to the church, but just in case we missed something, we want you to know there’s a lot of other random things you will probably do.” That’s not clear or specific, so leave it off.
#3 – Goals and Expectations
It’s silly to give someone a responsibility without attaching a goal. Job descriptions should provide so much clarity around what’s really expected.
It’s amazing how clarity improves when you get honest about what’s expected. Key performance indicators are the numbers or metrics used to evaluate success. If I had to guess, I’d say 95% of church job descriptions don’t have these.
If you were hiring a new student pastor, the job description could include key performance indicators. Something like this:
The student school pastor will be evaluated on the following three metrics.
- Increase attendance at the student service from 300 people to 500 over the next three years.
- Grow participation in small groups from 150 to 300 people over the next three
- Re-organize the volunteer leadership structure.
#4 – Personal Responsibilities
Working on staff at a church is different from working just about anywhere else. A good job description will capture some of these personal responsibilities and expectations.
Does every pastor need to attend every Sunday night service? Is tithing an expectation? Are there expectations of the pastor’s family. I’ve seen a lot of leaders get frustrated because staff members weren’t living up to uncommunicated expectations.
A job description can be a powerful document – one that doesn’t live in a folder on someone’s hard drive, but something that is regularly reviewed and discussed.
So What’s Next?
If you’re thinking about hiring a new person, prepare for the big decision and follow this proven hiring process. Our free Hiring Guide will walk you through how to create a job profile, how to interview potential candidates, and how to set up your new staff member for success.
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