Fish out of water

In honor of Independence Day, this week’s posts will have to do with the concept of freedom in ministry. This post is the first installment.

Churches make a mistake when they think either money or the “status” of working at their church is enough to attract, maintain, and gel quality staff year after year. It isn’t.

If one is really into money, one usually doesn’t enter the ministry. The same applies to status, though both money and status can be temptations for some. The truth is, most enter ministry from a sense of calling and a desire to serve God to the fullest with what they have to offer. Thus, one factor above all tends to determine a church’s ability to recruit, keep and and unleash staff to the fullest: Freedom in Ministry.

For most ministers, this is the Holy Grail. In fact, most ministers would take less salary for more freedom–though they’re fine with having both 🙂 Providing an environment in which the minister can truly use their gifts to the full is also crucial to the church’s success. It maximizes the capacity of contribution for each minister. Freedom also contributes to high morale and staff continuity. It provides a framework for thriving. Most churches I know spend a lot of time worrying about how to hold staff accountable and very little worrying about how to provide a culture of ministerial freedom in which staff can really thrive.

If a church takes the step of calling a minister to serve under the banner of a particular ministry need–if nothing else, they owe it to God and themselves to unleash the fullness of the minister’s gifts to fulfill it. Anything else is a waste of money, time, and attention. Some churches spend 100% of their investment in that staff salary for roughly 1/3 of the individual’s capacity for the Kingdom. Does that makes sense?

Does it make sense to bring in someone you feel may be so irresponsible, unmotivated or immoral they must be watched constantly? Does it make sense to hold ministers accountable for the results of decisions they don’t make but must implement? Few want to serve in such an environment, and such environments are the leading culprits in widespread frustration and turnover of ministry staff.

Hire better. Manage less. Everyone involved will serve the Lord more effectively and joyfully.

How important is freedom in ministry to you and those you know in ministry?