Career advancement is not a term frequently used in church staff circles. Why? Usually there is not a definable ladder of success in ministry as there is in the business world. Career paths in ministry are notoriously unpredictable. Moving upward in the chain of command in a church is not always desirable as many staff feel called to a specific area of ministry and don’t aspire to other ministry positions or positions with more responsibility. Still others feel called to a specific community or certain size of church, while others may aspire to serve a larger congregation but will never have the opportunity.
For these reasons it is important to reframe church staff development in terms of helping people grow in the here and now, right where they are. How to grow and move forward in their current position becomes the starting point for development conversations with supervisors. Advancement may also be redefined as moving toward being the best version of oneself, the one God intended.
To help staff grow in place, pastors and supervisors need to know the following about their staff:
- How they define success.
- What they want to achieve.
- What skills they want to develop and use.
- What experiences they want to cultivate.
- What they want to learn.
- Who they want to work with.
- Who they want to learn from.
- What they want to be doing.
- What challenges they want to confront.
- Where they would like to specialize.
- What legacy they want to leave.
Three Primary Approaches To Church Staff Development
In The Career Architect Development Planner, Michael Lomardo and Robert Eichenbenger site three broad development categories that are available for managers and supervisors to use with their employees.
Education: Opportunities to learn through formal classes, workshops, seminars and informal podcasts, webinars, Ted Talks, books, articles, and online resources.
Exposure: Opportunities to learn from others through peer networking, job shadowing, job rotation, mentorships, internships, coaching, and observation.
Experience: Opportunities to learn by doing by integrating learning into the everyday flow of work and ministry. New projects, special events, team leadership, and stretch assignments can serve both the mission of the church and the growth needs of the employee.
Opportunities and options are unlimited in each category. The key for supervisors is to help staff determine and access the best resources available for the development they desire. Building a church staff development strategy around these strategies will offer balance, maximize learning opportunities, and provide a structure for implementation.
Staff development initiatives aren’t fully maximized without formal debriefing that reflects upon the learning activity and identifies and applies what was learned. Supervisors can help staff unpack their learning activities by discussing the following questions:
- What did you learn?
- Why were you successful, or not?
- What would you do differently?
- How might you apply what you learned?
Taking the time to debrief provides the opportunity for the employee to reflect upon their learning activities, for profound insights to surface, and to discover ways to effectively use the knowledge and skills they have gained.
Posted on May 21, 2019