Happy Staff/Unhappy Staff

The Happy Staff of NEXT Church in Washington, DC

A Happy Staff = A Happy Organization.

There have been times when I have dreaded going into the office because of staff tensions.  And I’m talking about The Church Office.

If your place of employment is at a toxic waste facility or a kill shelter, I can understand why you would dread going into the office. But some assume that a Church Office always feels  like Thomas Merton’s Prayer Garden every day.  Calm. Relaxing. Holy.

I have a close friend who works for a nationally recognized non-profit that the outside world holds up as Effective and Creative.  But behind the scenes, they are a hot mess.  Leadership is weak.  Gossip is the prevailing culture.  And saddest of all (my friend tearfully shared) is that one young staff member in another division died suddenly last week and, upon asking his immediate co-workers about him, it became clear that nobody knew him.  They had all worked side by side in that office eight hours a day, five days a week for four years and no one knew if their colleague had a partner, a pet or a favorite ice cream. Did he live alone?  Did he have hobbies?  Nobody knew.

This single reality has made my friend know for sure that she needs to get out of there.  No one values community.  No one holds each other accountable.  No one challenges bad behavior.

A healthy staff is different.

I saw the above photo of the NEXT Church staff recently posted as one of their foursome was leaving for a new call and this is what I see – both in this photo and from my experiences with that organization:

  • They like each other.  They respect each other’s gifts and contributions
  • They each have gifts that add to the effectiveness of the organization.  If you pulled any one of these leaders from the staff, it would be a loss but the organization would (and will) continue to thrive.
  • They are not afraid to try new things, hold each other accountable, or continue to learn.
  • They are all curious about the world and each other.

If a church staff is happy/effective/mutually respectful, then the congregation will be too.  Every church needs and deserves a great staff because God Deserves Our Very Best. (This also goes for volunteer staffers but that’s for another post.)

[Note: there are so many small churches out there without any staff, so consider yourselves fortunate if you have colleagues down the hall.]

Occasionally church members will share concerns about their pastors’ effectiveness and leadership skills.  And then I ask if they have shared their concerns directly with their pastors.  What I commonly hear is that they could never tell their pastors to consider making healthy changes.  “I’m just a layperson.”The pastor is our friend.

And so, are you saying that you would sacrifice your church’s future for the sake of avoiding conflict?  (That would be a big yes for many congregations.)

I see too many congregations lose energy over the decades under poor leadership.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

Is your staff happy or unhappy with what’s going on in your Church, Non-Profit Office, Mid-Council, etc.)  Happier, healthier staff members gently change the DNA of even the most dysfunctional organizations.

Image of the extraordinary staff of NEXT Church.  Thanks J, P, L, and J.

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