In Group’s State of the Church research, the second “top dream” for women’s ministry leaders was to feel valued. For example, most women’s ministries aren’t given a budget by the church—they have to raise their own funds to cover costs. That causes feelings of “no one thinks we matter around here!” And we want to know we’re making a difference!

One way to raise the value of women’s ministry is to be more intentional in working with the church staff. How can you improve your relationship with church staff? What would be helpful for them…and you?

Affirm and appreciate. Even pastors and church staff need to be affirmed and appreciated (and not just in October for Pastor Appreciation Month). Write a note of encouragement, pray for them regularly, and take them out for coffee (or deliver a cup of joe and a scone to the church office when schedules are crazy).

Communicate clearly. Find the best way to communicate with your church staff. Some staff members prefer email while others like phone calls better. Some enjoy a casual chat while others want the bottom-line update. Adjust to what works best for them and you have a better chance of getting their attention. At the close of any conversation, be clear and restate what it is you’ve committed to do and by when.

Earn the right.  Take the time to get to know your church staff. What are the main struggles and personality differences? How can you help them while fulfilling you God-given calling and passion? Working together is about relationship. Trust takes time to develop.

Follow through. An essential part of earning and maintaining trust is to follow through with what you say. Of course, challenges can arise and cause even the best plans to take a detour! When this happens, communicate quickly and brainstorm a solution.

Realize there’s a history. The reality is there have been volunteers before you. Some have done a dynamic job of fulfilling the vision, and others have dropped the ball. Your church staff might have been burned by past volunteers, making them hesitant to trust new ones. Or you may find yourself needing to gently suggest new ways to do things, even though “we’ve always done it this way.”

Set boundaries (and keep them). In the typical 80/20 theory (20 percent of the church members do 80 percent of the work), church staff need dependable volunteers. Inadvertently, the staff can become overly dependent on these volunteers. Be up front about what you’re committing to and why. When asked to take on more, prayerfully consider if it fits within the boundaries you have set. If not, offer to help the church staff find a solution.

Touch base regularly. Set a consistent time that works best for everyone…and stick to it. Give updates on events and other tasks, troubleshoot challenges, and brainstorm about the future.

INFORMATION

Janna Firestone serves as a lay leader of women’s ministry events and leads a small group for junior-high girls. Janna lives in Colorado with her husband, Scott, and their two boys. She doesn’t have much pink in her house with her three boys, but she has plenty of dirt!