5 Church Staff Relationship Epic Fails

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FailureHealthy church staffs embrace and share with each other the unified goal of fulfilling and helping each other fulfill the mission of their congregation. Unhealthy church staffs, on the other hand, function as independent contractors performing their own duties dependent only on their own strengths, abilities, methods, processes and talents.

The Urban Dictionary defines Epic Fail as a complete and total failure when success should have been reasonably easy to attain. It is no wonder churches are struggling with ministry success when the church staffs that lead those churches can’t get along with each other.

Ironically, their relational impasses seem to occur more often as a result of something they don’t do than something they intentionally do.

Epic Fail #1 – They don’t pastor each other
Church staffs are not immune from the struggles of life such as depression, physical health issues, marital conflict, belligerent children and financial stress. If church staffs aren’t sensitive and willing to pastor their staff colleagues and families when they face those issues and others…who will?

Epic Fail #2 – They don’t love each other
In fact, some of them don’t really even like each other. Scripture reminds us to love God first, then our neighbors as ourselves. The closest neighbors beyond their families should be the people with whom they serve on their church staff. No stipulation is offered in this passage as to whether the neighbor really deserves or has earned the right to be loved. And the command is not contingent on a reciprocal response.

Epic Fail #3 – They don’t pray for and with each other 
Praying that God will call your church staff colleague somewhere else is not praying for and with each other, it is selfishly praying for your own needs and wants. Praying for and with each other requires communication, vulnerability, honesty, trust, brokenness and selflessness. Praying for and with each other surfaces hurts, unmet expectations, personal needs, ministry goals, concerns and dreams. The result of praying for and with each other about things that really matter may initiate a change in attitudes, opinions, hearts and vision that could encourage a reciprocity of love that did not exist before.

Epic Fail #4 – They don’t share ministry together 
Shared ministry requires sacrifice, humility, investment and trust. It publicly and privately affirms the calling and competence of the other staff members. It is not guarded, territorial, defensive or competitive and doesn’t care who gets the credit. Shared ministry means even when your position calls for you to have the last word it doesn’t always have to be your word. Shared ministry encourages reading, studying and conferencing together. And it has enough confidence in the abilities and intentions of the other staff members to allow and offer lateral mentoring and coaching.

Epic Fail #5 – They don’t play together 
Church staffs constantly encourage the members of their congregations to develop relationships of transparency, fellowship and community, yet never model those characteristics in their staff relationships. Those relational bonds exemplified by the Acts 2 church as they spent time together, had everything in common, broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts is often completely foreign to some church staffs. In fact, enjoying each other by playing and laughing together may actually be the starting point for developing some of those previously listed relational epic fails.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

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2 Responses to “5 Church Staff Relationship Epic Fails”

  • Jessica Says:

    What would you suggest for a new staff member (me, a female) in addressing the disunity among the other staff (all men, because I do think it makes a difference) that brings a very thick tension? I love what this post says, but how can I bring it up without having them go on the defensive?

  • John Hollan Says:

    Yes! and Amen!

    I’m so grateful for the chance to work and serve with people who are also my friends!

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