Intentional Church Staff Development

Posted by Jerry Roth on

A quick review of current business reporting identifies a critical challenge facing businesses – a significant shortage of trained staff to fill hundreds of thousands of open jobs. Here are a couple of headlines from the local Star Tribune newspaper:

Minnesota employers getting creative in the hunt for good workers in good economy

Shortage of skilled workers squeezing Twin Cities builders

After reading these articles and listening to similar stories on the news, I recognized that our parishes are also challenged to find educated and experienced staff to fill their ministry positions.

Let’s first explore some of the obstacles that might negatively impact our ability to recruit, develop, and retain competent, faith-filled staff:

1.      no well-defined career path opportunities

2.      poor human resource practices

a.      missing or inaccurate position descriptions

b.      missing or ineffective performance evaluation processes

c.       chaotic salary administration practices

3.      annual parish revenue unable to support living wages for staff

4.      lack of support for professional development

5.      staff team conflict

6.      long work hours with significant evening and weekend responsibilities

For parishes to remain vital and provide effective ministry, they will need to develop and implement intentional staff recruitment, development and retention practices that are attractive to existing and future parish staff. Some examples might include:

1.      Human Resource Committees populated with parishioner HR professionals that can evaluate and make recommendations to improve parish human resource policies and practices

2.      Successful Financial Stewardship programs that highlight the value that staff bring to effective ministry outcomes and allow the parish to pay living wages

3.      Effective Performance Management practices (clear and reasonable accountabilities, regular performance feedback, appropriate recognition for excellent work, etc.) that guide and encourage life-long learning and job growth for all staff members

4.      Regular Team Formation activities that value diversity, promote trust and respect, and encourage commitment to each staff team member’s success

5.      Mentoring of parish youth that will inspire them to consider and prepare for future parish ministry staff positions

6.      Development of parish Education Funds available to parishioners and current staff interested in professional ministry development


Are your parish leaders proactively addressing these staffing issues? Have you identified best practices that are positively affecting your ability to hire and retain key staff? Please share what you think are the obstacles to future staffing and how you are addressing these issues today.

The Center for Parish Leadership is available to assist you in these challenges. Please contact us to discuss how we can work with your staff and leaders to prepare them for these important challenges. If you would like to read previous Weekly Research Updates, you will find them on our new website blog.


Jerry Roth

Research Analyst

The Center for Parish Leadership


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