By Rev. Cynthia Jones
I believe that the Pastor /Staff Relations committee is a critical ministry for us to be a vibrant connectional church of Jesus Christ transforming the world. Indeed, it is the only committee that is required to meet at least quarterly by The Discipline. The committee members are the lifeline linking the pastor, church staff, the congregation, and the Conference through the District Superintendent. As pastor, your discernment of who serves on this committee and providing training and information for them is crucial to your ministry.
Membership in the committee requires the very best of us as pastors and parishioners in prayer, communication, discernment, vision, and leadership. To reflect the church, this committee needs to be diverse in gender, age, length of connection to the church, and interests. The folks that serve in this ministry must be actively involved members (must be regular attenders and have broad perspectives on the ministry of the church), good listeners, mature in their faith, open-minded, knowledgeable about their community, and able to maintain confidentiality. This committee – if spiritually healthy and growing – can be a wonderful support, sounding board, and accountability team for you as pastor and staff. Praying for this team and asking them to pray for you is the first step.
Perhaps the most important thing in your relationship with this group is to work together as a ministry team who pray, laugh, dream, forgive, and work in covenant with each other and God. Beginning every meeting with responses to "Where have you seen God at work in our church/community?" is a great way to start.
Setting a safe environment where folks can share honestly and from their own perspectives is important. Being vulnerable and willing to set healthy boundaries opens the door for honest relationships and ministry. Having conversations about visitation expectations, office hours, travel expenses and Sabbath day can be preventative and help these members interpret to others in congregations what expectations and priorities are. Working on a covenant as a team and building a shared understanding of confidentiality lays a foundation for trust and a process for discussing issues in the future. Setting guidelines on how folks will treat each other, making sure that all voices are heard, following Biblical ground rules, and telling the truth in love allows this to happen with imperfect people who are seeking to be faithful disciples of Jesus.
(Rev. Cynthia Jones is a retired IGRC pastor and former district superintendent. This article is contributed by Pastoral Care and Counseling. For confidential help, you can reach our PCC Coordinator, Shauna Summers, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.241.4389. For confidential, professional help in your area 24 hours, 365 days a year you can reach the Clergy Assistance Program at 1.800.433.7916).