Ministry Assistant

A preliminary proposal for an administrative and ministry assistant in a church of 200-500

Report to: Pastor
Time: Four days a week,  five weeks off without pay at agreed-upon times;  two weeks with pay on top of that.
Wages:  ______ per month.    
Benefits: None are included.

General responsibilities

  • Manage the flow of work and recruit volunteers where possible for the weekly publications,  meetings,  and records of the church.
  • Keep the pastor’s schedule and assist him to be ready for meetings and boards and appointments.    Be responsible for printed agendas for any board or committee meetings where he has responsibility.
  • Be the “point person” on staff responsible for the ongoing areas of assimilation, building-use schedule,  volunteers, special events,  and women’s.
  • Work with the volunteers in these areas to help with with the vision of excellence for these ministries,  and to have them do much of the administrative work.
  • Keep our website up to date,  working with someone who manages the technical and the details.
  • Be responsible for the good record-keeping of the church.
  • Be responsible and give excellence to the communications systems of the church,  keeping and assuring a good mood of joy and grace in the telephone connections and a short weekly email to all the church.
  • Assist in any other ways as needed.
  • Generally bring good cheer and grace to any part of the church ministries and staff responsibilities.

Basic minimums for a worship service

You do not have to have Tim Keller or Craig Groeschel speak; neither do you need to have the finest auditorium, worship team, or coffee. But we still all can care for some basic minimums, and to do less may mean you are yawning at your main billboard for the church, your weekend worship service.

The least we can do starts at the parking lot:

…Clear directions from the parking lot, after the driver chooses a space left open for guests.
…Greeters at the door with a smile and readiness to help you find the nursery, restroom, coffee, or worship room.
…A service that starts when the big hand hits 12. Nothing sillier than a countdown to zero on the screen followed by a three-minute lull.
…A first song that most people know and can sing well.
…A joyful and warm welcome from up front.
…Just the right number of worship songs so that your legs do not quiver or your voice give out.
…A “modesty nazi” who checks what the singers wear so there are no distractions.
…Songs that are addressed to God and not just how you feel about yourself.
…A pastoral prayer that is not made up while guitar-strumming, and has some worship involved. I recommend the P-R-A-Y guide — Praise, Repent (or confess, in a quiet moment); Ask, a series of requests to our Lord; and Yield, to the theme of the day.
“Bridge prayers” are not acceptable, just to move people around on the stage.
…A sermon that gets your attention at the start, exposes what the Bible says, applies this to real life, and ends somewhere near the expected time. Pastors who say it does not matter how long you go are not aware why regulars do not invite guests.
… A brief explanation of how personal salvation with assurance relates to the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.
…A response song or prayer that gives you an opportunity to respond to the sermon applications.
…A way to find out more about the church or our Lord as you leave — a way that seems feasible.

FINANCE TEAM, local church

To give excellence to the setting and management of the finances and budget of the church ministries, including staff compensation and overall policies

PERSONNEL: A chairman from the main board, at least two or three others from that board; the chair of that board and the senior pastor ex-officio; one or two other adjunct members approved by the board and skilled in heart (love for Christ and the church) and hand (in financial matters.


  1. Propose the overall budget to the main board of the church after input from program staff through the staff leadership team; and after assessment of the trends and capabilities of the church and vision for the next year.
  2. Assess the methods of principles and procedures of all the financial management and recordings of the church.
  3. Assess and give careful detail-protection to each monthly report and make recommendations on it to the main board each month. Do the detail work on behalf of the board.
  4. Make policies about perks for staff, policies for reimbursements, and guidelines for financial arrangements with outside vendors or ministry people.


  • Set salaries for all staff according to the “steps for setting salaries in the church.”
  • Lead the annual review of the senior pastor before setting his annual salary and benefits without his being present.
  • Set salaries for senior staff with the input of the senior pastor.
  • Set a percentage increase or guideline for the senior leaders of staff to set the salaries or wages of others on church staff.

Missions policies and proposals for the local church

…Every local church will want a strong portion of its budget to go “outside the walls” of that church.

…It is prudent to count all offerings that are not for the maintenance and ministries of that church as their “outside the walls” or outreach ministries — local ministries, global ministries, benevolence, evangelism in its community and area, and “walk-ins” care. These are truly missions or evangelism efforts.

…The board of oversight, with the pastor in the lead, should the the lead in setting a goal for what percentage of the total budget should be for such outreach.

…Some churches like to make a difference between ministries that are pure evangelism or missions and those that are simply charity love.

…Some churches set goals of seeing missions giving be 10% of offerings of their total budget or offerings. A few exceptional churches have made the 50% goal for money going into missions. The norm is more like 15-25% of total offerings, with a few seeing 25-40% go this way.

… The pastors and boards of oversight, often called board of elders or “the board,” should set a goal and challenge the church to increase and designate their giving so they get there. (A few churches have just one fund for giving and the leaders designate how it is distributed,)

…Church leadership must decide how to direct funds if personal designation is not the practice, or how to publicize the needs if givers designate.

…Each Sunday and home group appoints a missions captain who helps that group keep in touch with and pray for and support one missionary and one local “mercy partner” that the church supports. This makes missions more than a “program” of the church, and helps the group pray for individuals.

…One Sunday each month can be designated as a time for a 2-4 minute update and prayer for one of the ministries or missionaries supported by the church.

…It is expedient to have two small appointed teams to promote missions, and care for and serve the ones supported — one for local ministries-missions and one for global. Often there is one committee for missions, and many of these think only of missions overseas as true missions endeavors — the “salt water doctrine” is the label given to that kind of thinking.

…Prayer at staff meetings for missions is essential.

… Church leadership must decide if people can designate giving for a specific missionary or ministry, or if they allow leadership to direct money given to missions to each specific ministry or missionary.

… Local missions will usually be lean in giving if people must mark their missions giving that way, as many think only of global (overseas) missions as real missions. One way around this, when people give to a general missions fund, is to decide that 21% or 31% or whatever will go to local.

…It seems healthy for a church to adopt three or four local ministries as their “mercy partners,” designating offerings from the local portion of the missions budget. This can also include an arrangement where the church promises a certain amount of support (and volunteer hours perhaps) every year and the church has, to help with guidance, one member of the board of that ministry. Obviously, that is in the case of generous support.

It would seem a prudent way to support an existing way to support a local ministry — rescue mission, food bank, pregnancy ministry, jail ministry — rather than starting a duplicate or “competing” ministry.

Gatherings and Services for a Church

If we started from scratch, or could start over, what would our church schedule look like?

Worship/Celebration Service. A few up to thousands! Sunday service of worship (singing and prayer), ordinances, and expositional sermon — weekly. Child-care and children’s worship during the same hour are important (though we should think carefully about classes above grade 4, for older than that can enjoy and benefit from good worship and sermon.)

Community Bible Study Group (ABF or Home ABF). 8-70 is good for numbers in this groups, and the larger numbers are reserved for singles groups or an ABF for seniors in a large church!
Sometimes they work best before or after the worship service at the same building; often some meet in homes (and these are good for those who serve in worship or children’s classes on Sunday morning.

Recommended: Have both Sunday groups and home groups. Sunday will appeal to some who do not like to drive in winter evenings, and others whose week is scheduled full.

Home groups are great for those who teach and serve in worship Sundays as well as others who prefer another day for this group. Home groups should meet with twice a month or every week, and should have not only the teacher but a host leader, a care captain (assigns care and follow-up of consistent absentees or pain issues), and a missions chair (helps the group adopt one of the missionary families the church supports, to help this group have strong support and prayer for them).

It works well when the group discusses a few questions tied to the sermon for the start of the study.

Under this heading we would also put some age-group activities for children and youth.

Discipleship/Accountability Group. 3-7 all men or all women.
This group needs a leader who invites the men or women privately, seeing potential for them to grow in character and church leadership and strength. It is not a printed program for the church. (Neither are the community groups called true discipleship, which is more than content and community.)

Outreach/Evangelism events and projects. To reach the unchurches, to “get the church on the map,” to benefit the community.

Serving, teaching, leading, overseeing. There must be a clear procedure for the pastor and staff and volunteers to help people find a place to serve others and not just benefit from the church.

Socials and larger community building and team-building. The dinners and breakfasts and events to help the general crowd of the church are important but should not be so frequent as to start filling the calendars of the families with church events. (Some of us grew up in environments where the church family had schedules that had them at the church building 4-5 evenings a week — and there we often talked about evangelism of friends and neighbors, who only knew we were always at church!)

For the pastor and staff and leaders of all these to plan: care, counseling (with technical and complicated long-term counseling handled by a Christian counseling ministry in connection with the church), systems of discipleship and growth, evangelism and social action.

BEST FOR LEADERSHIP: A pastor who serves and leads Sunday and weekend ministries with many volunteers, all serving with the “boundaries” set by one board of oversight (See “Soccer Field Model,” where the one board has:

Foundations. (doctrine, constitution, statement of faith)
Resources. (finances, building plans)
Guidelines. (policies and working papers that guide ministries and procedures)
Goals. (plans for the future, mood of the church, product seeking to produce)

This pastor and board of oversight are called by the church membership. Other ministry leaders are appointed, as with teachers, musicians, building care people, shut-in ministries, care people, youth workers, children’s teachers, and more

Nominating process for board of oversight and any other positions put before the church

Lessons learned in 55 years of church pastoring and coaching In no apparent order


…Most churches have a nominating committee that is set up by the previous nominating committee or the present board of oversight (often called the board of elders or the church board).

…Good people who can see the big picture of the church should be the ones placed on this committee.

…The pastor should chair this committee and should not miss a meeting of this team.

… If a name is presented that should not be on ballot, someone should simply say, “Let’s wait,” giving no other reasons. Often there are confidential reasons or statements that could be gossip that are given. This should not be. If the pastor knows confidential reasons that a certain name should not be on the nominations list, suffice it for him to say, “Let’s wait.” This obviously shows that only strong people of biblical principles should be on this committee.

… Only one person should be nominated for any one office or board position. No one should go home a “loser” in a church meeting and that’s what is happening when you have two names.

… There should not be nominations for things like Sunday school teachers, or church keyboard players or ushers, or, I think, even care people, or assimilation people, or care deacons. Why can’t these be appointed by the pastor with the oversight board, just as we do for teachers of eighth grade boys or ABF leaders? (This might be a major change in some systems.)

… Policies for who can serve in these key roles should be made by the oversight board and kept on file. Policies can be changed by another oversight board, but should not be in the constitution, nor bylaws, so they have to go to the congregation for changes.

… The old habit in writing that if anyone has “ought” against someone whose name is put in nomination, used by many churches in the past, clearly brings up a crisis condition. Someone will be hurt by this, in most cases. Which means the nominating committee and oversight board that approves the ballot before it goes public, must be very careful and must know their Bible:-)

Thoughts on planning your own funeral as a celebration of a life and of the resurrection ahead!

Needed beforehand: assurance of eternal life connected with faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the one who paid fully the judgment for our sins and credits us with His righteousness when we trust Him as Savior and Lord. See Romans 3:21-26.

Purposes of this service:
…to look up and seek strength and comfort from our Lord
…to look back and give thanks for a life to be celebrated
…to look inside our own hearts and spirits to find strength and comfort.


1. Director. The one who makes decisions about timing for each and quantity of items. This married partner or child or good friend or pastor should know what the departed and the family want so there is not unnecessary debate or time spent planning.
2. Music: who will sing what song if there is to be a solo … lead worship songs…accompany on instruments.
3. Testimonials of remembrance: who will speak about the life. (Very important to limit to an appropriate number and to hold them to a time limit. People who do not speak a lot do not know what three minutes is, or even five :-). Usually two -four is the maximum for assurance of attention and timing.
4. Main Scripture devotional-homily: usually the pastor or someone accustomed to this. It is good for the departed to have discussed ideas and emphases about this when possible.
5. Scripture reading: Usually one or two about comfort or resurrection hope. Often a good place to have children who can or grandchildren, so they can have a part. It is good for the departed you have selected scripture he or she desires to point to hope and comfort from our Lord.
6. Responsive reading: one that is written using verses especially embraced by the departed one or giving an emphasis… This is a great way to involve the audience.


1. Location: Think through the advantages of a church setting because of the connection with worship and the cross and the resurrection. Obviously the chapel of a funeral home is easier as to arrangements and the convenience for the funeral director.
2. Burial setting: Some prefer to have the graveside service for family and close friends only, and this can be before the public memorial-celebration of life.
3. Gathering meal: Often there is a fellowship meal after the service to mix people and to help those traveling. This is a good time to have short spontaneous remembrance stories if someone can emcee this in a good way.


1. Time: Why not the best time when the most can be there? Without being so long for the family. The rhythm used to be day of death…then usually one or two days in between…day of calling hours or visitation…funeral-celebration the next day. In recent years because of weather or Covid or distance of family, the time between the death and the service is longer.
2. Video: Often a short video (2-3 minutes) can bring in a family member or special friend who would have been a part of the service, but cannot be present.
3. Honorariums: the funeral director often includes these in his billing — instrumentalists, main speaker, soloist — if not family members. But often this is left to the family.
4. Calling or visiting hours: the evening before or the hour or two before the service, or both? If the visitation time is the evening before, a good but infrequent practice is to have the presiding pastor close that evening with the family and close friends — with a few thoughts, verse(s) of comfort, and closing prayer. This is appropriate and also helps end the evening and send family home for rest.
5. Writing of the obituary: while this is for the newspaper and the website of the presiding funeral director, this can include strong and warm words from the one who has departed, if that is her or his wish. Many times this can be done beforehand so there can be approval.
6. Notifications: A list should be made of who will be notified immediately, and who will make the call or text.
7. Burial place and memorial stone: Should be done beforehand, but in an unexpected death it is an immediate need.
8. Bulletin or handout: Can be planned to be a good memory piece, with careful writing, verses, picture. Can have a written thought that gives assurance and peace if written by the deceased in anticipation of being “absent from the body, present with the Lord.”

How much should the church here budget for marketing and advertising?

You ask about advertising budget, a subject I like to talk about!   Remember first these  “truths,  which we hold to be self-evident”:

*** Over 80% of guests who visit a church for the first time were invited by a friend.

Nationally that is true.

Therefore we put a lot more effort into helping people realize this fact and make friends of people who do not go to church. Many of the people in our strong churches have very few friends who do not go to church. One reason is that we keep them too busy at the church, and another is that they do not try this hard work.

So happy church attenders are our first priority. If they’re happy and enjoy their church they will talk about it.  (Notice I did not just “faithful”

or “saved” church attenders, for some of them are grouchy or only want to talk about politics or hobby horses, and do not represent Christ and the church well.

*** Every church should have events and  ministries to get “on the map.” Races or Pickleball or care for single moms or care for people with children of special need.   Rest home visits. 

*** Churches with bulletin boards outside should make them interesting and not churchy and have phrases that people want to read as they drive by.   One of my favorites was there on an August day that reached 101 degrees: “You think this is hot!”

*** Then the smaller outreach budget should go to support local endeavors and to show that you were glad to be a part of the community.

An ad in the Kiwanis magazine,  the county fair booth,  the Christmas parade display…..

*** Then a small card that a person of the church can give to a friend to invite him or her.  I would put a little money into that.  Not churchy or trying to convert, just a joyful look at the church and time of services.

*** Then the 15 to 20 second video that you make of the pastor with a smile and a joyful word about a theme or life – something that people can pass on to their friends by way of email or their social media.   Too many make these teaching times — great for a different purpose.

You can say a lot in 20 seconds, and not lose attention of someone who did not ask for this!

And smart phones make amazing quality video and audio!

*** Then true PR – a 30-second commercial on local cable TV that reaches your area. You would be good at that. I could help you write them or give you about sample scripts that I have. A third of our church visitors came because of the radio or TV spots.  I never asked people to receive Christ as Savior and never invited them to the church. It just was positive and showed that I was excited about who Jesus is and what He can mean in our lives.    Go for it!

They were at recognizable sites in the community.

*** Then buy at a good rate an ad in a community paper or neighborhood book of coupons, not a big newspaper that is expensive.

Lincoln would have agreed these truths are self-evident!


BOUNDARIES…The very clear policy on “Boundaries” adopted by the board of oversight. This is about moral and financial policies and is enforced immediately when broken.

“HIT BY A TRUCK” PROCEDURE…The very clear steps and reassignment of leadership authority or pulpit responsibility to be in force immediately in the case of a tragedy or illness that prevents leadership capabilities for the pastor. There should be no question.
This is true in a church with a large pastoral staff — who is “number 2”? It is equally true when there is one person on staff. There also have been cases where a pastor abruptly resigned on Thursday! Or where severe flu hit Saturday evening! Just to say, “That has never happened here,” is not wise.

SECURITY PROCEDURES … Policies developed by the security team and approved by the board of oversight as to what to do when there is a breach of security or public danger because of an active shooter or invasion of the public gathering. You do not want to be deciding on the spot. Many small churches have assigned no security responsibility.

FINANCIAL POLICIES FOR CHECK-WRITING AND HANDLING OF MONEY… There are still churches where one person counts or handles the money or writes the checks, and that should change immediately with written policies written by the strong financial team and approved by the board of oversight.

EMERGENCY IN THE PULPIT … Even a very small church should have steps and a person or team assigned for someone approaching the pulpit for a questionable purpose, or what to do if the pastor of any age faints or has another medical emergency while up front. This involves another staff person if there is one and a person dear the pulpit who has security responsibilities. Some churches say they will play this by ear, and that is not sensible.

A ‘TRAGEDY’ SERMON … The pastor must have a sermon developed to use if a tragedy of major proportions happens the week before that Sunday. No one, the Sunday after 9/11 should have been preaching on Leviticus or James or anything but verses about tragedies and comfort and God’s teaching about pain.

MEDICAL EMERGENCY IN THE BUILDING … It does seem best to have a medical person assigned to take the lead in the sanctuary or building, if there are regular attenders who have such training; also to have several people trained to use a defibrillator if there is a heart attack in the building. You do have one?


Why imprison myself searching for God’s will?

I  grew up like some of you trying to live in “the will of God,” and searching for it when it was not obvious.    Sometimes it tied me in knots.

“Be sure you know what college is God’s will for you!”

“Don’t ever marry someone if you are not sure she is the one God has for you!”

“Are you sure it is God’s will for you to be a pastor?”

I was taught you could miss God’s “perfect will” for your life and live in his “permissive will.” Holy smokes.  I put myself in Gideon’s class – not a bad association – and was  putting out fleece so that God would clearly lead me. One time as I was graduating from seminary I decided that if the next car that came down the road were a red Rambler – that’s an ugly car you could not miss, and there weren’t many of them –  I/we would know it was God’s will for us  to go to Africa as missionaries.  We had already passed the missions board, and we also had an invite to go to Wooster as an associate pastor with a good veteran,  or to teach writing at Grace, or to keep my full-time job as a writer-editor for a Christian publisher.

Yikes!  A blue Rambler came!   Serious.  Did that mean we should go part-way, maybe to Paris!

Another time, after 17 years as a pastor, I admit with some shame, I lost 20 pounds in 12 months worrying about leaving the church in Ashland we loved so much to take the giant one in Akron.  Worrying about hurting feelings, but mostly,  What does God want me to do?

Proceed to today.  Now I like to give talks on the will of God, and try to free other people from the bondage and crush of their past pressures about “God’s will” as people defined it.

Here are my main points, in very abbreviated form, with high hopes they will be as freeing to you as they still are to me:

The Bible is God’s will for us.  Study it and obey it, because we are accountable for that.  We have freedom to choose in the areas not covered in the Bible.

“Love God and do as you please.”  (That’s a quote from Martin Luther — and you do know you should quote either him or C.S. Lewis or N.T. Wright at least once a month.)  And of course

Luther meant that when we love God we obey him as to his clear revealed Word, including its principles for applying and seeking wisdom.   And we will thank him for free will on matters of liberty, which by its very label says we are free to choose.

“You can’t make a mistake.”  That’s what my friend George said to me when he was helping me make a prison break from the worries ingrained in me from childhood, as I was deciding about Akron.  And he clearly meant what I now mean,  that if your motives are to glorify God and love others, you can and will do that no matter where you live or what you do.

“The windshield is often foggy but the rear-view mirror is clear.”   God is so great, kind, loving, and understanding, that he will guide us with his overall sovereignty and invisible shepherding, so that we will rejoice in our decisions and his will and our freedom all of our days. And we will know that he was with us, giving us the desires of our hearts.

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”   What we will hear when we see him, if we will put him first and not our handcuffs of tradition and worry.