By Doug Talley
As I work with pastors and church boards, I find that staff roles (senior pastor, student ministries pastor, children’s pastor, office worker, etc.) are often communicated as a list of tasks that a person must fulfill. Such as,
- the senior pastor is to preach 42 times a year and direct the staff;
- the worship pastor leads worship services and selects musicians and music;
- the student ministries pastor is to lead Sunday School, a weekly youth event, and take students to the state youth convention;
- the children’s pastor is to provide teachers for all kids classes and select curriculum;
The above bullets are typically thought of as being part of a job description. The problem is a person can fulfill those tasks but not accomplish what the staff position was created for or move the church forward in accomplishing its mission. While it is helpful to identify duties and tasks that a staff member is responsible for fulfilling, that is only part of the direction a staff member needs. So what else is needed?
What is needed is a focus on outcomes. An outcome identifies a result or the final result that the person is to accomplish. Outcomes are related to what you want to see happen as a result of the person doing his/her job well. They help you measure whether or not the “WHY” (the purpose) of the position is being met.
Perhaps the simplest way to illustrate this is to ask you to recall when you were in public school. Most of us can recall a teacher or two who made learning come alive. You not only learned information, but you were able to remember and apply it. This teacher changed you and how you see things. And then we can all remember teachers who… well, they went through the curriculum and dispensed the information. We learned the necessary information to pass or even get a good grade, but the class was just a hoop we had to jump through to graduate.
If you are a senior pastor, probably the best place to start is with the outcomes you should be accomplishing. Identify 4-6. For example, instead of seeing your roles as “preaching on Sundays,” identify what you want your preaching to accomplish in the lives of those present. You might express that as “communicate God’s Word and spiritual truth so effectively that life change occurs in the people of the congregation.”
Once you have developed outcomes, negotiate them with your board so that you and the board are in agreement. After they are developed, identify goals for the upcoming year. Accomplishing these goals should lead to the accomplishing of your outcomes. Negotiate the goals with the board. Report goal progress to the board at the end of each quarter and year. At least annually talk with your board about how accomplishing your goals is contributing to making the outcomes a reality.
Then, list your staff – paid or unpaid. Develop 2-5 outcomes for each staff position. Identify what you want to see happen as a result of this person being on your staff. What do you want the person to accomplish? How does this person help the church move forward in fulfilling its mission?
- Instead of “the worship pastor shall lead worship services and select musicians and music,” an outcome might be “the worship shall engage the congregation in the vibrant worship of God in a way that impacts their lives 24-7-365.”
- Instead of “the student pastor shall teach a Sunday School class and have one or more youth events per week,” an outcome would be “to introduce teens to a personal relationship with Christ and instill in them sound spiritual principles that will guide them into adulthood and foster a life-long life-giving relationship with Jesus.”
- Instead of “the children’s pastor is to recruit teachers for each class and select curriculum,” an outcome would be “to develop a team of teachers whose relationship with Jesus is so contagious that children pursue a similar relationship with Jesus.”
Let me translate this into action steps.
- Identify outcomes for each staff position.
- Clearly communicate to each staff person in conversation and writing the key outcomes she or he is responsible for. Make it clear that each year goals need to be set that will accomplish the outcome.
- Meet at least quarterly with each staff person to review goal progress outcome achievement.
- Do an annual review based on goals and outcomes.
Warning: if you implement this approach, you will increase the accountability you feel to your church board and/or to your supervisor. You won’t be satisfied with running religious events and activities or with checking off tasks on a things-to-do list. Instead, you’ll want to have a transformational impact on people’s lives, their walks with God, and how they live out their faith at home, work and play.