One of the most common conversations among parish workers is the woes of working at a church! The Gospel is the greatest source of our joy and the foundation of healthy community life.
Yet, somehow, when we try to build a vibrant parish, our offices are not always shining examples! But Pope Francis wrote in the “Joy of the Gospel”: “Challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness, and our hope-filled commitment.”
The Church is alive and well. So, too, should be our parish offices! Read on for five challenges to a vibrant parish office and their positive solutions.
From Suspicion to Trust
In any work environment with diverse personalities and charisms, it can be difficult to relate to people who have a different working style than you do. In an unhealthy parish office, your secretary is micromanaged by your other staff members. Your youth minister feels judged for coming in after noon when they’ve had youth group the night before.
At a vibrant parish, your staff will see differences as new opportunities for ministry, not as obstacles to “doing things the way they’re supposed to be done.” Your team recognizes that everyone else in the office has different responsibilities, skill sets, and schedules. They respect each other’s boundaries. Your team knows where they can rely on each other’s strengths — and does so!
From Exclusion to Collaboration
Some people gravitate to particular individuals more than others. Natural friendships are healthy and good in your office! But when the cliques start to develop — or certain staff members are routinely excluded — that’s a warning sign. If some staff members exclude everyone outside of their realm of “expertise,” this also stymies your attempts at healthy collaboration.
Vibrant parish teams work well together. They recognize that a vibrant parish is everyone’s responsibility, and their role in that extends beyond the bullet points in their own job description. When a project requires collaboration, they communicate effectively. The staff enjoys each other’s company in the office and has fun when they get together outside of it.
From Gossip to Positive Speech
Gossip can poison any work setting, and it’s all the more challenging because it’s so easy! A vibrant parish office will avoid speaking negatively of others (especially those not present) or obsessing over things that are going wrong. The team will routinely compliment each other’s strengths and speak highly of one another, the parishioners, and the church. In meetings, the team will focus on possible solutions, rather than stewing on the obstacles. The potential
From Burnout to Stability
The potential for burnout in church work is real. Pay is rarely industry-competitive and hours are long. Most jobs at a parish are highly interpersonal — sometimes across age and social demographic lines — with each relationship a source of potential conflict. Here’s a handy “examination of conscience ” of sorts to check your culture and keep things stable. In a vibrant parish office, your team is committed. When they come on board, they stay for the long haul. A vibrant parish office culture respects and retains its employees! Like a pond
From Stagnation to Growth
Like a pond without an outlet, a stagnant office can breed negativity and distrust. It can lead staff members to group up or to exclude others. You may inadvertently create an unhealthy office culture that people don’t want to be a part of.
At a vibrant parish, your team is dedicated to growing together. Your team routinely prays together. You take advantage of opportunities to learn and train as a team, like attending a leadership conference or reading a book together. You prioritize professional development opportunities for individual members of the team in their specific roles. You set measurable goals as individuals and as an office.
What do you think a vibrant parish office looks like?