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The 3 Most Undervalued Staff Positions at Your Church

The 3 Most Undervalued Staff Positions at Your Church
  • Name
    Milan Ford
In a recent study conducted by the APA Center for Organizational Excellence located in Washington D.C., nearly 49 percent of all employees believe they are "undervalued" and insufficiently cared for by the companies or organizations they currently work for. While one may assume that these findings are a result of poor salaries and non-competitive employee benefits, it was surprising to discover that nearly two-thirds of those polled cited their company's lack of support for "work-life balance" or open channels for "employee feedback," and not their compensation, as the leading causes for their dissatisfaction with their current workplace. After releasing this study, Norman B. Anderson, the chief executive director of the APA Center, stated that "this isn’t just an HR or management issue … [it] is a strategic business imperative that is linked to [an organization’s] performance and success." Knowing that polls like these rarely involve input from those who work within nonprofit organizations or churches, out of sheer curiosity, I decided to take a small straw poll recently of some ministry leaders I have known over the years, asking each of them to give me their honest opinion to the following question: What are the most UNDERVALUED staff positions at your church? Although I was certain there would be a high level of subjectivity in the answers I would receive based upon the differences of church sizes, styles and staff cultures of those I asked, I was surprised to find an overall consensus on these three church staff positions:

1. Facilities Director

According to a series of experiments conducted by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, it takes less than a tenth of a second for someone to form a first impression of a complete stranger. Their findings concluded that no matter how many times a person will interact with that same stranger, they will rarely alter their first impressions of him or her, but rather find things to "boost their own confidence in their initial judgment." First impressions are everything, especially when it comes to those who are visiting a church for the very first time.

Before any Gospel message is heard by first-time visitors, it is SEEN first. 

It can be seen in the faded parking lot lines and fire lanes desperately in need of fresh paint. It can be seen in that last stall in the men’s restroom that has had an "out-of-order" sign for the past four weekends. It can also be seen in those flickering lights in the back of the sanctuary, which, if not replaced soon, may have some guests wondering if the production team were getting some early practice in for the student ministry’s disco night next month. All of these challenges, and many more that can occur on any given Sunday, help highlight why a facilities director is an immeasurable asset to your church, and one that should be paid well and highly valued, not just highly tasked.

2. Children’s Ministry Pastor

While this second position has been picking up some steam lately in terms of value within most of the nation’s fastest growing and innovative churches (as it is now one of the most requested searches our team here at Vanderbloemen Search Group is asked to support), I am still in awe as to how overworked, overwhelmed, yet underpaid most children’s ministry pastors are today. Regardless of the countless amount of studies that are released every year that point to Children’s Ministry programming and environments, and not a particular style of worship or preaching, as one of the top priorities for young families to look for in a church, most churches still choose to under-resource and under-value those who are committed to caring for the "least of these" (Matthew 25:40). You may find it interesting that of the 100 highest grossing films of all-time, nearly half of them have are animated or have a rating of PG or lower. What Hollywood has discovered that the local church must now understand as well is that there is a direct correlation between children’s programming and adult revenue. Build a movie (or worship experience) just for adults, and only the adults will come. However, when you build one for children, the children will get their adults to come with them.

3. Front Desk/Administrative Assistant/Receptionist

This last position I found the most interesting, yet after some rather lengthy discussion with those I polled, I realized that the front desk receptionist may in fact be one of the most gifted leaders within the entire church. Every single work week, a receptionist is transformed into a janitor, security guard, data entry specialist and, at times, a print shop director, all the while greeting every call and visitor with a smile. The front desk receptionist or administrative assistant is usually a person of incredible grace and forgiveness, as only he or she is fully aware as to how unorganized and unresponsive many of the other leaders on staff truly are, especially when it comes to returning calls from members. Although paid hourly and provided little to no benefits, he or she is often the first to provide prayer and counsel for members who are facing a crisis, while the pastor-on-call for that week may be no where to be found or reached. While these positions may not seem as glamorous as others on your team, I highly advise you to consider re-evaluating their value and worth. You may be surprised as to how large their footprint truly is for your church. What are some undervalued positions on your church staff team? How can you value them more?