Church Staffing: 3 Ways To Develop A Happy & Productive Team


In a recent article in Inc. Magazine “3 Things Employees Really Want,” writer Marc Barros lists the non-monetary aspects of a work environment that lead to happiness and fulfillment in the work place.

The three aspects Barros lists are Purpose, Autonomy, and Empathy.

In reflecting on this article, this has real application for the church.


People want to be part of something that clearly serves a bigger purpose and is making a difference in the world. While it’s true that people don’t typically join a church staff for the financial rewards, its also true that many of those working in churches don’t have a clear sense of the church’s mission or how what they do fits in with the overall mission of the church or organization. 

Most churches have some sort of mission statement which can be a powerful driving force behind ministry decisions and how a church impacts the world for Christ.  However, if there is a disconnect between the stated vision or mission and how the organization actually operates day by day, members of the team will see the gap and become frustrated. 

I recently interviewed a candidate who described how the pastor of her church would regularly voice the mission “Love the city,” in staff meetings but his behavior toward the staff and community was anything but loving. As a result, the team felt demoralized and unmotivated.

Our team at Vanderbloemen recently spent several hours identifying our mission and values, and while they are aspirational (the organization we want to be) they are also real (who we really are). They match us as a team, and we are feel invested in the vision.

Also, sometimes the people who faithfully do their jobs behind the scenes might lose sight of how what they do is critical to achieving the bigger vision and purpose of the church.  Great leaders help their team connect the dots between what they are doing during the week or on the weekends and the larger impact the church as a whole is having in the community and in the world.

Questions to Ponder

Have you clearly articulated a big vision and purpose? If so, are all your ministries clearly tied to achieving that vision and purpose?

Does everyone on your team know the critical role they play in achieving the vision? Have they found their purpose in their role within the bigger purpose of the ministry?


Staff members are happiest when they have authority to make decisions within their spheres of responsibility. 

Churches are notorious for micromanaging its people. While its important to have healthy accountability systems in place, many churches require its ministry leaders to get approval from a higher authority (supervisor, elder board, trustees, etc) before making a decision about a ministry they have been called to build and develop or about an expenditure that they feel is necessary to push the ball downfield in their ministry. 

If you’ve hired gifted people and given them responsibility to accomplish a ministry, then trust them to make good decisions within the ministry to which they’ve been called. 

One candidate described how every ministry decision he made would have to get approval from the Senior Pastor before he could move forward, but the Senior Pastor was only available to discuss it one afternoon a week. Not only did that model hinder his efforts to grow the ministry, it was seriously de-motivating for the pastor who was trying to meet the goals, expectations, and mission of the church.

Questions To Ponder

Is your staff given freedom to make decisions in their area of ministry? How much freedom do they have?

Are the accountability structures you have in place viewed as a way to protect the church from mismanagement or as a way to facilitate ministry?


Staff members want to know that they are valued and appreciated.

While productivity, hard work, and excellence are critical values for any organization, so is genuine caring and authentic affirmation and appreciation.

Most, if not all, of the people working on your team are not doing it for the money. In many cases, they could be making far more money in the marketplace. They serve because they believe in the mission, and they love being part of a team that’s making a difference.  Taking a moment to stop by their office and say, “Thank you!” or “I appreciate what you do,” can go a long way to helping your team morale. 

Remembering birthdays, work anniversaries, or having a staff lunch just “because” will tell your team that they matter and are appreciated.

When someone new joins your team, take some extra time during the on-boarding process to make sure that they have what they need, their questions are answered, and they have a clear roadmap to move forward. 

In addition, spend a little extra time finding out what’s important to them. What’s their “love language?” How do they best receive feedback?  What kind of food do they like? Giving them a gift card to a local restaurant or dropping off a basket of some food or household necessities when they first move in says “You are valued and we are here for you.”

Questions To Ponder

Do you have an onboarding process that includes intentional bonding time between your staff and the new church staff member?

Do you set aside time in your schedule to intentionally affirm your church staff members on a regular basis?

Purpose, Autonomy, and Empathy. Churches are uniquely equipped to offer these to their teams. If you do, then your church staff will thrive.

If you liked this, then you may also like How To Keep Your Church Staff Happy (Part I).