A friend recently emailed me for advice on a no-win situation. He forwarded me an email from the paralegal team for the mission he worked for telling him he had to take down a website. For two years my friend had produced a new way to share valuable content to his community meeting community members need for the accessibility of this information on mobile devices. He does it very well. The order was made by the paralegal based on a consistency in branding for the ministry.
Does this feel off to you?
I have been having conversations with others in ministry who are expressing the same kind of concerns for their employers.
Youth Pastor says, "I'm in the office every morning the lead Pastor arrives. Since I've worked at this church he's never walked down to my office to say good morning or check in. I've been here two years and there's four of us in the office."
Urban non-profit Director says, "I keep asking if there is anyone else who is doing this same role well in some other place? I'm told a few are out there but leadership isn't working towards putting us in the same room or finding a creative way to share information."
Suburban non-profit Director says, "Locally we are struggling to raise the funds for the mission so we have had to take a pay reduction. We are struggling to survive but I'm asked by leadership to have more faith in God's provision."
I had all these conversations within a month of each other. It is possible to be a great ministry and be a poor employer?
For those entering the current world of ministry they are watching their peers enter a new type of working environment. This site is built on a platform by a company called Squarespace. Squarespace has been rated the second best place to work in New York City. Here is what their site reads:
Pretty impressive right? Here's where the wheels come off: If you are in ministry leadership and you dismiss this experience with the thought, "Well, we're a ministry, we're not a business." I would say to you this:
You're right, you're not a business but you are an employer.
The employers in the future that will have the most talent on their team are the ones who will identify what employees need and finds a way to make it happen. A calling does not give leadership the right to dismiss the needs of the people doing the work.
Everything hinges on listening. The type of employees a ministry mission will have in the future will depend on what the mission hears right now from employees but dismisses. Does your ministry want the best people in the future? Here's some suggestions to making it a reality:
1. Ask those closest to the vision of the mission what they need to be successful every year.
2. Survey your employees every year and find out how satisfied they are with their job and fill in the gaps.
3. Create a level of employee who finds ways to creatively care for those on the front lines.
4. Stop using the "have more faith" line with ministry employees struggling.
5. Stop promoting outliers and making them the example. (another post coming soon)
6. Yearly read Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. See change as an opportunity, not as a threat.
7. Don't invest in technology out of the desire to control.
8. Have a Chief Innovation Officer or role similar to it.
9. Set employee growth goals before mission growth goals.
10. Create a serve mentality from the top down and ask if people are feeling served...I dare you to ask.
The best ministries, the ones with serious growth right now, are lead by people who listen and create an experience as an employer that is icing on the cake (calling). Dismissing the employee experience hoping that doing the ministry will be the healing ointment to all wounds will create a revolving door for any mission. This is not the 50's, or the 60's, or the 70's, or the 80's, or the 90's. The days of questioning someones level of faith because the experience as an employee is poor is coming to a close. This is not a calling issue it is a care issue. And if profit organizations, which some now have a ministry mission can care better for their employees than a MINISTRY the blame can't fall on this next generation of ministry employees.
Okay, now it's your chance to have your say. Are ministries missing the mark as employers? Should a calling cover all wounds by an ministry employer? What do you say?
Please comment below!