Recommendations for Hiring Family and Intergenerational Ministries Staff
Faith formation is a lifelong process in which people claim their identity as beloved children of God and their call to participate in God’s purposes for the world. This process begins at birth and continues throughout the lifecycle. We grow in our faith as we claim God's presence and love in our lives. People learn how to claim God's presence, grace, and love by watching and learning from others. When church communities model and practice the Christian faith together, they develop, nurture, and pass on the tools that help all people connect with God.
The faith formation process involves information (what we know), formation (who we are and who we are becoming), and transformation (how the world is changed because of who we are and how we live). A life of faith, then, includes cognitive, emotional, and behavioral dimensions. The effectiveness of this process has an impact on how well a local church fulfills its mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” (¶120, The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church).
Staff people for faith formation need knowledge and skills in several areas to be effective:
- Biblical literacy
- United Methodist theology, doctrine, and polity
- Spiritual disciplines
- Human and faith development
- Relationship building
- Goal setting
- Experience working with people of all ages
Since each congregation is different, the staffing needs related to faith formation will also vary. However, there are a number of factors that will affect the successful employment of a staff person. Factors to be considered include realistic job expectations, adequate salary and benefits, continuing education and development, healthy staff relationships, and regular feedback.
The staff-parish relations committee will find a description of its responsibilities related to staff in¶258.2g of The Book of Discipline. These responsibilities apply to both ordained and lay employees. This document provides additional help for congregations in the process of hiring a staff person in family and/or intergenerational faith formation or in evaluating their current staff configuration.
Staff need adequate salary and benefits, realistic job expectations, adequate time off, self-care encouragement, positive pastor-staff relations, recognition, training, and support. This document is designed to be helpful for local churches in the process of hiring a family and intergenerational faith formation staff person or evaluating their current staffing situation.
Recommendations for Hiring Staff for Intergenerational and Family Ministries Staff
Each church needs a screening process for potential staff people. This process should include a reference check, a criminal background check, a psychological assessment, and a review of the candidate’s social media.
The staff-parish relations committee should provide a written job description. The job description should be used in annual performance reviews and possibly quarterly reviews. It should also be updated whenever a person’s responsibilities are altered.
Family and intergenerational faith formation staff should be compensated at a living wage – at minimum.
A starting point in determining this staff person's salary for a full-time position is a public school teachers' pay scale in your area. Please note that the public school teacher pay usually covers a 10-month period. Thus, salary for the family and intergenerational faith formation staff position should be adjusted to cover the full year.
Churches should pay equitably, demonstrating the importance of faith formation and considering the local economy and the resources of the congregation.
Increases in salary should be based on merit and on increases in the cost of living.
Churches can consult with annual conference boards of ordained ministry and/or with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry to determine current compensation ranges for this job description.
Additional factors to consider include:
- Educational background
- Previous experience
- Full-time versus part-time
- Scope of responsibility
- Local cost of living
Benefits for full-time positions should include health insurance, retirement benefits, and reimbursement of work-related expenses, such as mileage.
If the individual hired is ordained, the salary will need to be in line with the equitable compensation that is required for ordained people by The Book of Discipline (paragraph 342.1). This salary amount can be found in the conference Journal or Book of Reports for the current year. For a part-time staff position, divide the full-time amount by the number of hours you intend to incorporate into the job. The church may need to allow additional amounts if the part-time position does not include benefits such as healthcare.
Supervision and Retention
The staff person in faith formation serves as a member of a team. The person’s supervisor should be clearly identified, and the two should meet on a regular basis for prayer, planning, and conversation about the faith formation ministry. Supervisors should be trustworthy, respectful, and collegial.
At a minimum, the staff-parish relations committee should conduct an annual evaluation of the faith formation staff person. The evaluation should be based on the staff person’s written job description and include documentation of effectiveness and any need for improvement. It can be helpful to schedule quarterly or midyear evaluations for new staff.
Consistent communication between the faith-formation staff person and supervisor should be the norm. In addition, the staff person will need to communicate regularly with members of the faith formation ministry team, other staff, and members of the congregation.
Eric Law has developed a set of “Respectful Communications Guidelines” that can provide a helpful framework for communication.
Additionally, faith formation staff should be added to mailing lists for district and conference news (print and electronic). They should be encouraged to join appropriate social media groups.
Spiritual, Physical, and Emotional Health
Part of supervision is working to ensure that staff take care of their spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. Effective staff nurture their relationship with God. They schedule days off, vacation, and time with friends and family.
When special events (e.g., retreats, professional development opportunities, or Holy Week services) require additional work time significantly beyond the staff person’s prescribed hours of work per week, the staff person should take additional time off.
Faith formation staff should continue to build knowledge and skills for ministry. Participation in workshops, conferences, online courses, and professional networks are a part of staff work. Congregations should provide time and financial assistance for staff participation in ongoing development.
Churches can check with their district or annual conference offices to receive information about district- or conference-sponsored learning opportunities. Other professional development organizations that relate to staff in faith formation include Christians Engaged in Faith Formation, seminaries, and Discipleship Ministries.
Termination of Professional Relationship
Termination of employment should occur only after adequate measures have been taken to improve performance, resolve conflict, or address other issues. When termination becomes necessary, all people involved should demonstrate grace in the process.