Church Personnel Committees

My experience with Personnel Committees is that they don’t know their own job description. Too many times the committee acts more like a “Human Resources Department” than a personnel committee. Let me explain the difference.

A human resources department provides all the forms for new staff and departing staff, ensures those forms are complete, interprets the personnel manual for staff, works with vendors to get the approved benefits at the best possible price, and handles other routine personnel needs. Frankly, those are all functions that in a church should be handled by the staff and not by a committee.

A personnel committee of a church is vastly different. A personnel committee should do the following

  • Develop a personnel manual and review it at least once a year for updates
  • Develop a salary structure and salary range so that all employees are treated according to their “pay grade.” Most churches have no concept of this much less how to go about creating salary ranges. However, it is essential that a church do this to help their staff.
  • Hire the senior pastor and give him an actual, honest job performance evaluation. This may include an annual 360 eval for the pastor; that is a good thing so that he can have a true sense of his leadership and his management.
  • Help the senior pastor with his direct reports. The senior pastor may need counsel on who should report directly to him and who should not. The pastor may need help with the job descriptions of those who report directly to him. Finally, the senior pastor may ask for help in recruiting the people who work most closely with him.
    • For the most part, I disagree with the notion that there should be a search committee for positions in the church below the senior pastor – the leaders should be able to hire those whom he feels will work best with him and not have a committee decide for him (after all, shouldn’t those lay members be doing Kingdom work and not be the HR department?).
    • The senior pastor should have the freedom to select his lieutenants and craft their job descriptions with the advice and counsel of the personnel committee, but not their veto. Those leaders, in turn, should have the freedom to select the second level of leadership without having to jump through hoops of lay people. Some, but not many, lay people are qualified to help in recruitment; it’s just that they could be doing something else for God instead of having meetings.

So, if you’re in a personnel committee, ask the committee chair for a job description of what the committee is responsible for. If that JD needs to be updated because the church has grown and/or changed, then do it! If there is no JD, then help the pastor and committee chair develop an appropriate description of responsibilities for the personnel committee. A good one will save the committee members a lot of time and grief, it will help the pastor and staff know what everyone is charged with doing, and it will ensure that everyone is doing what is expected of them.

Lead On!