Wednesday Words: My Thoughts on Whether a Church Administrative Assistant Should be a Member of that Church

This debate has gone on for years. Should a church administrative assistant be a member of the same church, or is it better to hire someone from outside the church? Here are some of the arguments I’ve heard on both sides.

Church Member?: Yes

  1. They know the congregation well. They know names and stories, and they know who’s related to whom. That information can prove invaluable.
  2. They often know the church history well. Every church has a history, and it’s always good to have some knowledge of that history. A new pastor can benefit from someone who has that knowledge.
  3. They’re available to help on Sunday. Sometimes the pastor needs immediate help on Sunday, and a church member assistant is there on the spot to help. 
  4. They can bring consistency to the office and to the church. That’s especially the case if the administrative assistant has been there long-term.
  5. The church already knows potential assistants. The learning curve for an assistant won’t be long, and the church won’t need time to get to know the new hire. 

Church Member?: No

  1. It’s sometimes hard to be a pastor and a boss at the same time. The pastor will have to be the boss at some points, and that’s tougher to do when the assistant is a church member.
  2. Any pastor/assistant conflict will likely affect several others in the church. That’s inevitable if the admin assistant has family in the church.
  3. It’s almost impossible for the assistant to stay neutral in times of church conflict. Being a church member often trumps being an assistant in those cases – and the congregational conflict becomes office conflict, too.
  4. Sundays can inadvertently become “work” days for the admin assistant. That’s the only day many church members see assistants – and they need them to know stuff right then. Assistants often thus find it hard to worship that day.
  5. It’s more difficult to fire a church member. You hope that’s never necessary, but it happens – and problems #1 and #2 in this section then kick in. 

Okay, what are your thoughts? Where do you land on this issue? 

And in case you’re wondering where I land, I had great administrative assistants who were members of my church–but I think the reasons to hire outside the church are stronger ones.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.