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
- They know the congregation well. They know names and stories, and they know who’s related to whom. That information can prove invaluable.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Any pastor/assistant conflict will likely affect several others in the church. That’s inevitable if the admin assistant has family in the church.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.