The following is a guest post by my new friend in ministry, Tiffany Henning. She is a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Retirement Planning (CRPC) and wants to bust a few church HR myths.
You heard the calling. You received the commission. Then you found the location, gathered your team and launched your worship gatherings. God is moving in amazing ways and you are on fire.
Now someone is telling you that you need to stop to set up HR stuff? Lost people are being reached, lives are being changed, and you want me to spend my limited time on… this? God will take care of it; besides…
“We are too small to have to worry about any of that stuff right now.”
Nope. What you are doing now is building the foundation for your church to growth in years to come… and you know this. You are setting precedence for everything. You have structure for your programs and systems for follow up with visitors. So why not work to protect all that you are building from liability, lawsuits, and toxic culture? It is much easier to turn a rowboat than a cruiseliner – as you get bigger, it will become more and more difficult and time consuming to implement new process or make changes.
“I have more important things to worry about.”
If you are not pro-active now, you will find yourself constantly reactive, putting out unnecessary fires and stuck with a mess that could hurt the health and growth of your church. Trust me; if you don’t take care of the small things now, you WILL be dealing with much bigger things later.
“My leaders are passionate and love what they are doing; they won’t burn out.”
That is exactly why they WILL burn out if there are not strong boundaries in place. It is easy to confuse doing for God with being with God. It’s hard to turn off emails, phone calls, texts, and even the mind when you are so excited about everything going on. But it is a marathon and not a sprint. So what can you do?
- Have 2 days off a week for your staff
- Otherwise they will spend their only day off doing errands or cleaning
- Institute a generous vacation benefit and encourage them to take it
- Start at 13-15 days
- Don’t allow them to check emails while off
- Shut down between Christmas & New Years
- with everyone off, there is less guilt
- Lead by example
- Even Jesus withdrew from the crowds with his 12, his 3, and then by himself.
“We don’t want to operate like a business/corporation.”
Somehow in Christian circles, “corporate” and “business” has become a bad word when talking about churches. This is also accompanied by the notion that if you structure things, it will become like a business and not a ministry. According to Dr. Sam Chand, Change Strategist Consultant and author, the size and speed of an organization is controlled by its systems and structures:
More passion isn’t the answer, and bigger dreams aren’t always the solution. Every leader is asking two questions: How can we grow? How can we grow faster? The only way organizations can grow bigger and move faster is by accelerating the excellence of their systems and structures.” – Sam Chand, Bigger Faster Leadership.
However, if you do not take care of the systems and structures, you will not be able to keep your organization afloat to make the impact you are called to make. There must be some “business” in your ministry or you are not being a good steward of what God has entrusted you with.
“Most of the labor laws don’t apply to churches.”
False, false, false. And did I mention, false? Richard Hammar, CPA and church law expert, writes:
Churches generally do not think of themselves as employers. Yet this is one of the key roles a church does play… However, in most cases the church is held to the same laws as secular employers.”
By not following labor and compliance laws, churches are subject to audits, steep violation fees and opening themselves up more to lawsuits. Even if a church wins a lawsuit, they usually pay an enormous price in legal costs, lost time and energy, and adverse media attention.
So What Now?
HR laws & staffing issues can be confusing and draining, but you don’t need to tackle it all at once, instead take baby steps. If you have seen the movie What About Bob?, you know the movie revolves around Bob (played by Bill Murray) taking baby steps to conquering his many fears. This is how you should approach HR & creating an awesome staff culture, one baby step at a time.
In my next article, I will provide you a list and resources of the top HR things you should focus on to get your organization on track.
Stay tuned for Tiffany’s followup post (2018). She has recently launched HR Ministry Solutions to give churches the tools they need to manage their staff and comply with labor law – connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn.