Manpower: People are selected and placed in positions that fit their gifts, passions and callings and that align with the church’s objectives and culture

Mastering the Six Core Competencies of Church Staff Supervision

Over the years as an Executive Pastor I would marvel at the ability of a supervisor to excel in one area of supervision and wince at their inability to execute in another area. Their direct reports inevitably became frustrated, relationships suffered and plans were derailed because they were unaware of all the critical buckets of effective supervision.

Each “bucket” below represents a core competency every effective church staff supervisor must master. Each “rock” represents a specific component needed to achieve the core competency. Together they form a supervisory philosophy and system that requires discipline and practice to implement.

Not all six buckets are created equal, nor are they linear in nature, but rather work together to provide a comprehensive approach to staff supervision. To be effective, church staff supervisors must have a working knowledge of each bucket and the ability to discern which are critical in supervising a given employee in a given moment in time.

The Goal: Effective Church Staff Supervision

These six buckets and rocks aren’t exhaustive and won’t solve all of your supervisory challenges, but with increased knowledge and competency will provide a pragmatic framework for better supervision.

Bucket #1: The Records Bucket

I keep extensive records and refer to them frequently to better understand how to effectively lead and manage my direct reports.

Big Rocks in the Records Bucket

  • Assessment results: spiritual gifts, strengths, personality.
  • Resume.
  • Job Description.
  • Annual reviews.
  • Ministry and Self-development Plans.
  • Regular job performance reports.
  • Area of ministry brochures and promotion pieces.
  • Records of achievement.
  • Records of affirmation from others.

Bucket #2: The Expectations Bucket

I create a culture where core values and job performance standards and expectations are crystal clear.

Big Rocks in the Expectations Bucket

  • Clearly define and document key objectives and priorities.
  • Clarify work place values.
  • Clarify job descriptions, responsibilities and job performance standards.
  • Clarify task ownership.
  • Clarify communication and feedback processes.
  • Clarify required organizational leadership and management attributes.
  • Define what success looks like in each responsibility.

Bucket #3: The Performance Bucket

I energize and focus my direct reports by establishing a system of regular accountability with measureable mileposts and results based rewards.

Big Rocks in the Performance Bucket

  • Establish SMART goals.
  • Align ministry programs, events and services with the church’s mission, vision and objectives.
  • A system for tracking, measuring, monitoring and reporting on what matters.
  • A compensation program that rewards performance against achievement of goals and standards.

Bucket #4: The Feedback Bucket

I create an ongoing formal and informal feedback system to monitor results and the work, home, spiritual balance of each of my direct reports. I personally observe my direct reports in a variety of ministry settings. I actively seek the perceptions of others who observe my direct reports in a ministry or work place setting.

Big Rocks in the Feedback Bucket

  • Ongoing feedback on: Faith, Family, Job, Health, Social, Self-Development.
  • A regular (Weekly, Monthly, and/or Quarterly) Supervisor Update Template.
  • A formal and written Annual Review process.
  • Manage By Walking Around – Spontaneous hallway and office conversations.
  • Observe when publically preaching, teaching or speaking.
  • Observe when leading or facilitating a meeting.
  • Observe when working in a team setting.
  • Ask for observations of lay ministry leaders and ministry participants.
  • Ask for observations of staff peers and direct reports.

Bucket #5: The Support Bucket

I embody a “supportive philosophy” where my direct reports view me as a supervisor who encourages and helps them achieve their goals and objectives.

Big Rocks in the Support Bucket

  • Affirm and celebrate unique strengths.
  • Acknowledge accomplishments.
  • Provide wise counsel.
  • Help problem solve.
  • Break down barriers and overcome obstacles.
  • Encourage when discouraged.
  • Have their back when under criticism.
  • Provide the right human, financial and physical resources at the right time.
  • Offer new assignments and responsibilities based on strengths and results

Bucket #6: The Development Bucket

I steward the privilege of supervision by equipping my direct reports to be lifelong learners. I create a culture that prioritizes and embraces self-development. I wake up every morning thinking about how I can make my people better.

Big Rocks in the Development Bucket

  • Create professional and spiritual development plans tied to annual goals.
  • Mentor through selected books, journals, blogs and audio resources.
  • Help identify and leverage unique strengths and talents.
  • Equip to lead from maximizing strengths and minimizing weaknesses.
  • Teach ministry leadership and management principles.
  • Provide site visits, conferences and subject matter experts for best practices.
  • Encourage reproducing and multiplying themselves.


Effective church staff supervisors will execute each bucket and rock with a heart and walk that is centered on Christ. Any process, like the altar of Elijah on Mount Carmel before the fire came, can be correct, properly laid out, but altogether cold if it is not God honoring and glorifying.


Posted on November 15, 2016

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5