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Supervising Staff

The two churchwardens are the hiring and firing authority of the parish, but the responsibility for supervising staff rests primarily with the incumbent.

A good place to start when trying to understand this role is in the person of Jesus Christ. He drew together individuals of mixed, even dubious capabilities; inspired, motivated and empowered them to offer their best to God; then delegated, or sent them out to offer their many gifts. (Matthew 10:1-10)

Regardless of your staff’s religious background, level of responsibility or competence, their work with you will shape their sense of meaning and personal call. It’s important to create a work environment:

  • that affirms the dignity and worth of each individual
  • where the theological concepts of redemption and grace are lived out
  • where justice and compassion are practised
  • where the needs of the individual are balanced with the stewardship needs of the parish

This means that:

  • a person’s value is not determined by position but by being a child of God, so respect is integral
  • information is shared, meetings are open and inclusive, expectations are clearly stated and boundaries of job descriptions are honoured
  • employees feel valued and are recognized publicly
  • staff are accountable for both good and poor performance, in a spirit of reflective openness
  • there’s opportunity for growth, development and change

Becoming a better supervisor

This challenging ministry requires skills development and training, because few are innately gifted as a supervisor. Practice, reading, reflection and sharing ideas will help you fulfill what God is calling you to be. You may need to dedicate a significant amount of time to the task and be attentive to the legal and human resources responsibilities involved.

To help clergy with supervision, take a look at Incumbent and Parish Staff. It includes information on:

  • the role
  • feedback
  • performance evaluation meetings
  • difficulties

and samples of:

  • job performance reviews
  • employment agreements

You may also want to use many of the resources developed for the Responsible Ministry: Screening in Faith program.