I have yet to ever meet anyone who sits down with a Policy Manual and jumps for joy. Writing them is less fun than reading them, which is less fun than editing them, which is slightly more fun than having dental work done. But a Policy Manual provides a skeleton for your church and ministry team to thrive by giving structure and boundaries. I think four necessary policies for you to consider are:
1. Social Media - Like it or not, when people want to know about us, they look to our social media profiles. They're out fingerprint on the Internet, and they offer an interactive approach to engaging with our community and our congregation. That's why you need to have a clear understanding of how you and your ministry team will engage and present on social media. What you post, share, or comment on is out there for everyone to see. It's wise to live "above reproach" online, both in the content of what we put out but also in the quantity of our online presence. If you spend all day posting, commenting, and interacting on social media, you give the impression of being a screen jockey.
2. Interaction with Opposite Gender - A lot has been shared about the "Billy Graham Rule" that Vice President Pence practices in order to protect his reputation and build boundaries on his marriage. A number of views have been shared about it, but as a ministry leader I cannot emphasize it enough: you need to make sure you have a written policy about how you interact with the opposite gender. You will find yourself in counseling appointments, meetings, and digital communication. Whatever your policy is, make sure it's one designed to protect your ministry team members, those you serve, and all the marriages represented. Rick Warren has a great list he uses with his staff.
3. Work/Family Balance - Unfortunately, work/life balance in ministry is a myth. You'll never be able to keep score and balance your time every week between work and home. But what you can do in ministry is make sure that your Policy Manual includes sections on ensuring a healthy life at home and at work through capturing the rhythm. In this section, make sure to include comments about Vacation/Off Time, family health and commitment as part of the formal evaluation process, and alignment of priorities of devotion (first to Christ, second to Family, third to Ministry). Remember, your church can always find another ministry leader. But your spouse and kids can't replace you.
4. Benevolence - Every Church wants to help. Every ministry leader wants to help. Around us in our communities are dozens of people who find themselves on hard times and need assistance. But few churches find themselves in a place of having an excess of funds available to assist their folks or those in the community who reach out for assistance. Because we must be good stewards, we must set up parameters for our assistance. In ours, we have a system of checks-and-balances where assistance must be approved by a deacon, can only reach a certain dollar amount (without additional approval), can only be used for utilities/rent/groceries, and can only be solicited a certain number of times. We also make it a point not to do direct cash assistance from our office--that's a safety concern for our team! However your church chooses to do its assistance, make sure you have a network of other churches, ministries, or assistance groups to protect yourself from scams and to effectively communicate needs.
What other policies have you found essential for your ministry team?
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.