Job/Service Descriptions - Why Are They Valuable?
Job Descriptions/Service Descriptions do nothing more than serve as a general guideline of what is expected of an employee/leader – paid or unpaid. It must also be understood by churches that by no means are they the sum total of all tasks that will be tackled in the performance of duties. They are to help and guide direction for an employee/leader, so activity is not limited.
Job Descriptions/Service Descriptions also help the church (the employer) set goals, wage and salary scales and identify key positions within an organization.
EVERYONE WHO IS ENLISTED AND ELECTED TO SERVE IN ANY CHURCH, PAID OR VOLUNTEER, NEEDS TO HAVE A WRITTEN JOB DESCRIPTION/SERVICE DESCRIPTION BEFORE THEY ARE PLACED IN SERVICE.
Churches have, over the years, been reluctant to create and enforce the principles and use of Job Descriptions/Service Descriptions; many churches feel it is “confining” or presents an element of “distrust” to the worker. Sometimes they are created and never used. Unfortunately, churches lose out on the value of having a Job Description/Service Description when it is viewed as a threatening or controlling document. “Without a Job Description/Service Description, an employee or a volunteer is forced to make assumptions about duties and responsibilities, as well as lines of authority and lines of communication.”¹
One of the problems that arise when writing Job Descriptions/Service Descriptions in the church, for minister or volunteers, is that church attempts to write them for a person and not for a position. Every effort should be made to create the Job Descriptions/Service Descriptions for the positions that help the church achieve its goals and mission priorities. Don’t focus the creativity of the Job Descriptions/Service Descriptions reflecting the work of a present employee or volunteer in that leadership position. Create the Job Descriptions/Service Descriptions based on what you want the position to do for the church long term, not just a present situation or need.
When a vacancy occurs in a position, the corresponding Job Descriptions/Service Descriptions should be evaluated and revised. Input from personnel at the same level as that of the position being updated should be included for revision. Sometimes input from the person vacating the position can be taken into consideration when evaluating the job description or service position prior to replacement.
It is also a good idea to evaluate any new personnel after six months to see if a Job Description/Service Description has been adequately written to perform the tasks assigned.
Important parts of a Job or Service Description:
- Official title and position
- Position Purpose with Church Mission Statement
- Position Qualifications – Academic Prerequisites
- Ministry/Service Relationships – Supervisory
- Duties listed for primary activities
- Position expectations
- Personalized areas of work or service
Resources: ¹ “Management Essentials for Christian Ministers” by Anthony and Estep, Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2005, page 176.