The Job Description

By: Tim Massengale

Delegate – Communicate – Administrate

While traveling from church to church and working with various directors and Christian workers, it is common to hear lay leaders cry over and again: “I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing.” On the other side of the picture, you often hear pastors give the consistent, yet very different, complaint: “Why can’t I get my directors to do their job?” The problem here is obviously that of communication. Good communication is a vital key to church staff performance, whether it be paid or volunteer. This chapter deals with the most common, yet most basic and important tool of good business communication, that of the job description.

WHY THE JOB IS NOT DONE

Pastor Rollings slammed down the phone in disgust. The call was from one of his bus drivers. The bus was broke down on it’s Sunday Morning run to pick up children. “Broke down” was putting it mildly. The engine was blown. And he knew right where the problem lay. Tom Fowler, his Maintenance Director had neglected to insure that the oil and water was checked before clearing the bus for use that morning. “What’s the problem?” he moaned. “Why would a normally dependable man neglect an important job like that?”

At first glance, it would appear that the director is clearly at fault and obviously incompetent. But a closer examination revealed that Tom, the Maintenance Director, had thought the Sunday Morning inspection was the responsibility of the bus driver. The bus driver thought it was taken care of by the Bus Ministry Director. The whole thing was an unfortunate mix up. Who’s really at fault?

Pastor Rollings problem is a typical one. When a department director does not do their job, or is not following through with their responsibilities, a pastor must first check to insure that the person
appointed meets the two prerequisites of good delegation – that of faithfulness and desire (as explained in the previous chapter). But most often the response from the pastor is “yes, this person was a faithful, dependable worker before I placed them in the position of leadership, and they expressed to me a desire for this area of Christian service.” Most pastors are already aware of these two basic requirements and hold to them strongly. Yet, in spite of these two criteria being met, the job is still being neglected and responsibilities are going undone. Why? Why will a faithful,
dependable individual who has a strong desire to work for God not do their job? The reason, most likely, lies in one of the two following areas.

1. They do not know fully what to do. When an individual does not know fully what to do, obviously, it is difficult for them to do it. A pastor might say “Well, I brought them into my office and sat them down for two hours. I told them everything they were supposed to do.” But unless that individual has a photographic memory, or is extremely adept at taking notes (few are), then they will remember little. And even if they do take notes, they are apt to miss key points that are critical to their position.

Research shows that an average person retains less than 10% of what they hear. After six weeks, this retention drops further to 3%. Unless you place their duties in writing, there is a good chance that they will forget much of what you told them. For this reason, the written job description is very important. Your delegated director will refer back to it repeatedly. Job descriptions are not documents to be locked away in filing cabinets, but tools to be continually used, examined, and updated.

2. They do not know fully how to do it. Herein lies the failure of many pastors and department leaders. They may prepare a job description that explains what to do, but unless the individual also knows how to do it, they will be fearful of failure. This is human nature.

It is not enough to tell someone what to do. They also need training. In this lies the difference between knowledge and skill. What they need is a pattern, or example, to follow. In following anothers example, they will learn the job and all it’s details. Then, after they have learned the job, they will often improve upon it. The Apostle Paul said, “But join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you (Phil. 3:15 NIV). Providing a good pattern of service is just as important today as it was back then.

This pattern of “how to” needs to be in writing also. Some pastors have developed a basic “procedures manual” to help in this training process.

Only when the “what” and “how” of a job are covered is a person capable of doing it properly. Without these two, if a person does the job at all, it will often be wrong or incomplete, resulting in even greater insecurity when they are made aware of this. It is the responsibility of leadership to insure this does not happen.

WHAT WILL A JOB DESCRIPTION DO?

A properly written job description will put teeth into an organizational structure. It will give it substance, strength, and clarity of purpose. It defines boundaries. It shows who is responsible for what and to whom. And more than any other single device, a job description gives goal-orientation. It is a responsibility check list as well as a training tool. A job description is all of this and more.
Without written directions, a leader is asking for misunderstandings, conflicts, and frustration.

In the volunteer environment of the church, job descriptions are especially important. Some of the most effective, growing churches in Pentecost today not only have job descriptions for their department directors, but also for their Sunday School teachers and choir members. Pastors have found that the old saying is still true, “a good understanding makes a lasting relationship.”

The best job descriptions are specific, definite, and measurable. They have teeth; they are binding; they are clear. A well thought-out, carefully prepared job description will:

1. Spell out duties, responsibilities and limits of authority in a particular church position.

2. Clarify relationships between jobs, thus avoiding overlaps and gaps.

3. Provides the first step in actual job appraisal.

4. Helps identify future training needs.

5. Aids in introducing new people to their jobs.

6. Serves as a basis for establishing performance standards as they relate to the church goals.

7. Serves as a basis for recruiting others for similar positions.

8. It is a valuable source of information when a revision in church organizational structure is undertaken.

9. Serves as a contract between the pastor and director as to what the job encompasses and what are the boundaries to the job.

10. Provides definite goals and objectives for the director in the coming year.

HOW TO WRITE A JOB DESCRIPTION

The kind of job description format you use is unimportant. Go to the library and check a hundred books on management in which the subject of job descriptions is dealt with and you will find a hundred suggestions or outlines. Another books format may be altogether different than the one provided here, but in the end, they accomplish the same thing.

First, at the beginning of your job description you need a job title. The title should describe, as nearly as possible, the work that is being filled or accomplished by this position. Fancy titles are a hindrance if they mislead a person as to the true purpose or focus of their responsibility. If their primary job is to coordinate Home Bible Studies, and this is really all you want them to do, calling them an “Outreach Director” might pose a problem to you later. Make the job title simple and descriptive of their primary duties.

Then, you need the name of the individual involved. The job description should be personalized as much as possible. Every part and section should reflect your effort to make this department fit the director and make them a successful Christian worker.

Next, write the Date or year. This is important because once twelve months have elapsed, it is out of date! There are very few job descriptions that can go on for more than a year without alterations, because the environment changes, the capacities of the individual change, and the needs of the position change. The pastor must keep the position constantly in review.

Beyond this, the job description consists of six parts:

1. THE JOB PURPOSE. This is the most difficult to write. The Job Purpose puts into a few words the end result that this position seeks to accomplish. Particularly when you ask someone to write their own job description, you will find that sometimes they do not know why they are being asked to serve or what the real purpose of the position is. This section has to do with objectives, with goals, with targets. The “reason for being.” The Job Purpose must be measurable, definitive and specific. You may wish to write this section last after you have better defined the position in “Job Responsibilities.”

2. QUALIFICATIONS. These are for the basic performance requirements needed (gifts, character, knowledge, and skills). This is what the person should ideally be and know in order to most effectively accomplish the Job Purpose. Set your standard high, but keep it realistic.

3. THE JOB RESPONSIBILITIES. These are the activities necessary for the accomplishment of the above purpose. This is easy to write if you just write down what the person is presently doing. But if that is all you do, you have not written a job description. You have only given the man a piece of paper to justify the continuation of his activities, and that may be bad.

When writing down duties, it is important to be precise and specific. A vague, general job description is worthless. Give the job description some detail. The individual will not know what you want
done unless you tell them. The point where problems arise is when a director doesn’t know, can’t do, or doesn’t care about every aspect of their job. Spell out the boundaries of their responsibilities. This section should completely cover the “what, when, where, and how” of doing that job. Writing this section is work, but it is worth it. This is true delegation.

At this point, it is good to keep in mind any known weakness or problems that the leader might have. Job Responsibilities is a good area to address these shortcomings. For example: If your Outreach Director is responsible for giving a 15 minute congregational report each month on the churches Growth Spiral ministry progress, and you know this director has a tendency to become “preachy” and criticize people for falling short, you should address this in that section of his job responsibilities. Caution him in writing not to do this. Give suggestions as to how you would like it done. Be specific. Make the job description fit the person.

4. ORGANIZATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS. Here we are back to the organizational chart. Organizational relationships extend in four directions: up, down and sideways in both directions. This should show a man exactly what his relationship is to his pastor, exactly what his relationship is to his subordinate, and what his relationship is to the other department directors. It should also spell out how he will be made responsible and when. This is where a director realizes “I take my orders with respect to the operation of this department from the pastor. I am responsible to oversee these certain people. I know there is another department functioning over here and I must work along with him. I will hand in a report here and I will be evaluated at this future date.” The two key words are TO and FOR. “Responsible to” shows superiors; “responsible for” designates subordinates. All problems and negative situations should always be passed up the organization. All successes and positive situations should be passed down.

5. TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT. There has never been born a perfect leader or department head. There is always room for improvement. New ideas and different approaches to solving problems or motivating people are always needed. We are speaking here about the fine tuning of skills and abilities – about exposing your leaders to ways to better do the job he or she has been called by God to do. That is self development. Everyone responds to a challenge. This area says “I know you are good, but you can be better. I believe in you, I have faith and confidence in you.” That is a powerful message. Your directors will never excel unless you challenge them to do so. Assign them books to read, tape sets to listen to, seminars to attend, churches to visit and observe. Help them to grow.

Realize that the growth of the church is directly tied to your departments. The church can’t grow until the departments grow. The departments can’t grow until the department leaders grow. The
department leaders will not grow until you challenge them to grow.

This area should be specific also. Set deadline dates. Name the books and seminars. This becomes an important part of their reward for a job well done. “Reward you say? It sounds to me like work!” No, doing and being the same thing year in and year out is work. A real leader wants to excel. You must convince them that they can.

6. GOALS FOR THE YEAR. No department is perfect. Perfection is not something you become, it’s something you reach for. List exactly what improvements you would like to see in that department in the coming year: New ministries, new programs, new positions, expanding existing ministries, numerical goals – the list could go on and on. Again, be specific.

Also, you will notice that each of the samples job descriptions has a goal to “Develop Interdepartmental Job Descriptions.” This refers to all positions that lie within their department: Assistants, ministry leaders, secretaries, etc. Every director should write these as soon as possible, using what samples you can provide them. A copy should be turned into the pastor.

DOING IT YOURSELF

At the end of this chapter, you will find a set of SAMPLE job descriptions. Notice, we said “sample,” because these must be rewritten. A canned, rubber-stamped job description is as much a
hindrance as help. If parts of the job description obviously does not apply to your church, the department head will wonder if any of it applies. The samples must be made to fit your situation from top to bottom.

First, take the samples you need and photocopy them. You may wish to also get several more samples from other pastors (a good source of sample job descriptions is the “Church Growth Strategy” binder which can be purchased from the General Home Missions Department of the United Pentecostal Church). Borrowing from several sources can help you develop a more complete set to fit your situation.

You may need to group several job descriptions under one department For example: Men’s Fellowship, Maintenance, and Usher/Hostess under the single heading of “Men’s Ministries.” Make each of these areas a subsection within Job Responsibilities. If needed, you can encourage the director to delegate one or more of these areas to other individuals.

After you have collected all your resources together, mark out what does not apply to your church and add in anything that you feel is missing. If the sample job description describes an area of ministry that is not currently implemented in your church, yet you would like it to be, you may wish to leave it in and make it a future goal of that department. Simply write “this duty will (or may) be a future goal of this department.”

Next, add the person’s name and date to the top. Any training or departmental improvement goals that are needed must be added also. Finally, have the entire job description retyped.

Some pastors have found it beneficial to have each director rewrite their job description also. After they both have it rewritten, the pastor and director then meet together to discuss and merge the two rough drafts. This often reveals what that director “thinks” are his or her responsibilities. What they think and you think may be quite different. This allows you to focus on any areas of misunderstanding.

When you have retyped the final job description, give the director a copy and file the original. Some pastors like to have the director sign the original, thereby stating that the duties are clear and
understood. This job description should be reviewed and updated each year just prior to your annual planning retreat.

ANNUAL DIRECTORS EVALUATION

The job description, as well as the position itself, should be reviewed each year and updated as needed. This review, as mentioned above, should be done each year, a week or two prior to the Annual Planning Retreat. This is a very important part of the management process. The pastor should have it scheduled and placed on the master church calendar each year at the retreat.

Chances are, the director is not fulfilling one-hundred percent their job description duties. Most will have various areas that they need to improve on or even begin. Then, too, needs within the department change, duties expand, new ministries are added, and so on. This is the purpose of the annual directors review and evaluation – to work on weak areas and to update the department as the church grows. The annual departmental staff evaluation is an important part of developing a powerful and productive team for growth.

The following are some guidelines for using the Annual Departmental Staff Evaluation Form:

1. At the end of this chapter is a sample copy of the “Annual Departmental Staff Evaluation Form.” Is will be useful for both volunteer and full-time staff. It should be used on all  department directors and ministry directors at least once per year. More often may be needed in certain situations.

2. The evaluation should be one-on-one, in private location, else the director may be hesitate to inform you of their specific problems, needs, and goals. The pastor’s office or home are good locations to meet. Your wife may attend if needed.

3. Take the Staff Evaluation Form and fill in the director’s name, position, and the date of your upcoming appointment. Then, list the major areas of responsibility for that director, especially those that they may need to work on. Also be sure to put in those areas that they are doing very well in. Do not rate these areas yet. Leave the form blank and give a photocopy to the director.

Ask the director to fill out the rest of the form, rating their own performance in each area of responsibility. They should also evaluate their own strengths, job satisfaction, effectiveness, areas of needed growth, and so on.

You, as pastor, should then evaluate the director on your copy. Give careful consideration to each area. You will be meeting with the director and going over their evaluation as well as your own.

4. When you meet with the director, the first thing you should do is read over their Job Description. Make any needed changes. Talk about weak areas. Discuss their training and development area. Did they read the assigned books? Write in new training and development assignments Then discuss their goals. Were all of them fulfilled? Write in new goals for the year, both your own suggestions and the directors. The revised job description should be retyped and a copy given to them.

5. Next, review the evaluation form. Realize that their evaluation will not exactly match your own. Some people are very hard on themselves, while others will overestimate certain values and strength. Be honest, yet sensitive, in conveying your assessments. The staff evaluation time can be a wonderful tool for encouraging the director, as well as to focus on needed improvements.

6. Notice the area dealing with strengths. Always be sure to put one or two more strengths to the list that the department director compiles on themselves. It is very affirming and rewarding for people to realize that they are doing well.

7. The director will rate “personal job satisfaction” on their own. Whether he or she rates job satisfaction with a 9 or a 2, always ask, “What could make your job satisfaction higher?” You may discover areas that need to be changed or improved to increase their job satisfaction.

8. After discussing the “overall effectiveness rating,” you, as pastor, should assign a rating. Then ask the director, “Where areas do you think God would have you grow in this ministry?” Almost always the director will have an area that needs improvement; if not, help them find one.

No one is perfect. This kind of “constructive critique” should always leave a person with the feeling that he or she has been helped. They should have a clear understanding of the problems, the means to correct them, a feeling of appreciation, and an eagerness to improve. These four areas must be provided with every evaluation.

Then, together, develop a simple action plan on how that problem can be overcome or improved. Put this on the form in writing. Give them a copy and keep one yourself.

9. Next, write in their ministry goals for the coming year off of their job description. Set tentative dates for completion. Then, decide on what topics they would like to discuss at the upcoming
planning retreat. Decide on three to five topics such as goals, problems, needed ideas or input.

10. The evaluation form includes an area at the bottom for comments. Use this as a place to write an uplifting, encouraging statement, such as, “Mike is doing a fine job and is a great asset to the church and it’s ministry.” Even if Mike has several areas to improve on, he will remember that statement and feel good about the evaluation. Have the director sign the form and do so yourself.

People do want to become more effective and productive in their work for God. The “Annual Departmental Staff Evaluation Form” is very effective in helping them become their best.

This type of supervision is called “interaction discipleship.” Church management is more than meetings and reports, but is also involves discipling people as they are involved in their spiritual service. If a pastor fails to develop people under his care, he does them a disservice. You have not done your job until you help people become all God wants them to be.

IN CONCLUSION

God has always has a specific sign or symbol of every covenant or commitment that he made with his people. To Noah He gave a rainbow. Abraham had circumcision. The church has been provided with baptism – a “circumcision made without hands,” and the seal of the Holy Ghost. God never gave a “verbal only” promise.

Neither should a pastor. We, too, are following the pattern established by God and the early church. The covenant or agreement of service to help the man of God lead the people of God should be clear, precise, and in writing. This is what the Job Description provides.

ANNUAL DEPARTMENTAL STAFF EVALUATION FORM
For The Year of_____________

Name__________________________ Position____________________ Date________

Primary Areas Of Responsibility Rating (1-10)
____________________________________________________ ______________
____________________________________________________ ______________
____________________________________________________ ______________
____________________________________________________ ______________
____________________________________________________ ______________
____________________________________________________ ______________
____________________________________________________ ______________
____________________________________________________ ______________
____________________________________________________ ______________

STRENGTHS_______________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

Personal Job Satisfaction (low) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (high)
Overall Effectiveness Rating (low) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (high)

GROWTH AREAS____________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

ACTION PLAN_____________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

GOALS FOR THE COMING YEAR_______________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION AT UPCOMING PLANNING RETREAT______________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

COMMENTS________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________

________________________ __________________
Pastor Staff Person

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