I’m on the Personnel Committee. Now what?

It often surprises me, as I consult with churches and church leadership, that many congregations have elected a Personnel Committee but there is no clear direction given to them, and no definition of expectation. What is a Personnel Committee supposed to do?

One of the most common mistakes Personnel Committees make is to not meet and not have church staff in front of them until there is a problem. If you church staff dreads being called into a Personnel Committee meeting, something is wrong. The committee should be a regular support group for church leadership. Advocates. Promoters. Supporters.

Regardless the specifics of your Personnel Committee’s bylaw-driven responsibilities, here are the three basic functions of your committee. These three basic functions are the duty of every church Personnel Committee, no matter the ministry context.  

ONE: Encourage. The Personnel Committee should make it their highest priority to constantly and intentionally encourage church leadership. In case you have not noticed, discouragement abounds in ministry. Vocal critics of the ministry surface everywhere, everyday—in the larger denominational context, in the local community, and even within the membership of your own congregation. Often, a church leader’s worst critic is himself/herself. Even when things appear to be going smoothly discouragement is lurking in the hearts of your church’s leadership. Here are some ideas for regular, intentional encouragement:

  • Mail a handwritten card thanking them for their leadership.
  • Call or take them to lunch just to say, “I’m thankful for you.”
  • Pray for them, and with them, regularly.
  • Call staff members into a meeting at least once a year just to ask how things are going, lay hands on them and pray over their homes and their ministries.

“The Personnel Committee should be a regular support group for church leadership. Advocates. Promoters. Supporters.”

TWO: Equip. The Personnel Committee should take the lead in ensuring church staff members are receiving the training they need to be effective in the ministry. Ministry is a calling, and it is also a trade. We expect our church leadership to bring the deepest biblical wisdom, the best contextualized ideas, and the most informed cultural perspectives to the table every day. But are we providing them with the opportunities they need to sharpen their ministry skills? Here are some ideas for equipping your church staff to bring their best selves to the table every day:

  • Advocate for seminary scholarships in the church budget.
  • Set aside conference and travel funds for denominational meetings, ministry-area workshops, and special certification programs.
  • In annual reviews and goal setting, ask questions about personal development, ministry-area networking, and how your committee can help make these possible.
  • Provide ample vacation time and strategic sabbatical opportunities for each church leader.

THREE: Resource. The Personnel Committee should make sure each church leader has the resources he or she needs to be successful on the job. Otherwise, you become the Pharaoh doubling the work load while requiring slaves to gather their own straw. You cannot expect technological advance when you’re A/V ministry leader is working from a five-year-old computer. You cannot desire excellence in worship if the worship leader cannot afford decent instruments and musical arrangements. You cannot expect your pastor to lead a high-performance team without giving him a budget for team-building resources and opportunities. Here are some ideas for resourcing your church leadership effectively:

  • Do not assume what they need to be successful. Ask them.
  • Start with “yes” and work hard to make it happen. Reserve “no” for those rare occasions.
  • Be an advocate before the finance committee and the church, for staff member’s resourcing requests.
  • When expectations are not being met, ask if the church leader has the resources necessary for success before assuming laziness or incompetency.

What if Personnel Committee meetings became a think-tank and a resource-advocacy group for church leadership? What if staff began to long for the days when they are scheduled to meet with the committee because they know they will be championed and prayed over? What if your Personnel Committee became a team of confidants and ministry-supporters?  What if you resolved, as a committee, to Encourage, Equip, and Resource church leadership?

I can’t say for sure, but my guess is that it may promote ministry effectiveness in your church staff in ways you have not previously imagined.

What a joy it is to encourage, equip, and resource those who are called by God to lead the church in advancing the Great Commission!

Be that committee. Encourage. Equip. Resource.

Tony Wolfe pic
Associate Executive Director
Tony Wolfe
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC)
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