No Ministry Job Descriptions = Frustration for Everyone. How to write a great one.

I read an article from a man whose ministry is training volunteers who serve in local churches. Apparently there were about 100 such people attending a seminar from this man and he asked a question, “How many of you here have a job description that is clear, on paper, that was given to you by either your supervisor at your church or your pastor?” Only thirty percent raised their hands. Follow up questions revealed that this lack of a job description created a great deal of frustration on the part of the church-worker. This article concluded that it’s important to develop ministry job descriptions. I couldn’t agree more.

One of the more common things I hear from pastors is that they need to develop job descriptions. That’s good. What’s not so good is this tells me that they currently don’t have ministry job descriptions. And if the poll of those who attended the seminar I mentioned above is any indicator or a more universal reality then there’s a good chance these pastors have volunteers who are frustrated. One more thing. Is it possible that some of our frustrations with our leaders can be traced back to a lack of a job description? Perhaps. Let me ask you: do those who serve in key positions of ministry in your church have a job description? Is the job description written down? If not might I suggest you begin the process of developing ministry job descriptions for those who serve in your church. The following are four simple principles to follow.

First, job descriptions must be clear. Don’t rush through the process. Have you thought through every detail? Have you written this out in a way that is understandable? Rule: Never underestimate your ability to be vague when all the while thinking you are being clear. Is it clear?

Second, job descriptions must be realistic. It doesn’t matter what you want the person to do, it only matters what they have the will and the time to do. The more requirements or expectations you have the fewer volunteers you’ll be able to pick from. Be flexible. Are you asking too much? Remember, these people have lives outside of the church. Be realistic.

Third, job descriptions must contain a way to measure success. How will you and the volunteer know that they are doing a good job? What specific things are you and they looking for?

Fourth, job descriptions need to have an off-ramp. Is there a plan to make it easy for the person to quit or for you to move them out and into another position better suited for them if need be? Circumstances change, people change, needs change. Give people a ministry but start them out on a trial basis. Let them know that after a few months you’ll meet with them to determine if they want to keep going. Tell them if it doesn’t work out for them that they’ll be able to quit. More people will be willing to make a commitment to serve if they know they can get out if they don’t end up liking it. Also, let them know that if you end up thinking it’s not working out that you will move them into something that’s a better match. Rule: It’s easier to get them in than it is to get them out. Have an off-ramp.

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