It's a fantastic season when your church sees growth in numbers. You see more people coming to Christ, those who've been away from church for years decide to come back, and families are serving together as volunteers. There's more work to do with increased attendance, so it's time to add to the team. As you continue to expand, it's easier for staff members to become disconnected from what's going on in each ministry department.
Here are ideas to prevent or repair broken communication channels within your church staff:
#1 - Maintain a church-wide calendar
Include events for every department so it's a one-stop-shop to know what's coming up and who's using which rooms in the church for their event.
#2 Provide a brief update in staff meetings
Go around the room and have each department leader give a 3-5 minute update on his/her team. What did they accomplish recently? What events/programs do they have coming up within the next 6-8 weeks? Do they need help from other departments?
#3 Create a summary document to highlight what each department does
This is great for new hires or interns so they know which department is responsible for what. Keep it short an introductory paragraph with a few bullet points and FAQs should work quite well.
#4 Encourage communication -- discourage rumors
Email, texting, and the like are useful communication tools. However, there are discussions that are best had in-person. For potentially controversial or sensitive topics, encourage your team members to talk in-person. If someone brings up a, "Well, I heard that Department X won't", stop the conversation and bring in someone from the department in-question to ask.
#5 Highlight a department
In your next staff meeting, have someone from one of your departments give an overview of what they do for the church. Include how they work, what they enjoy most about working with other departments, what other groups can do to help them be more effective, fun facts about team members, etc. Highlight a department each month and cycle through again as you add to the staff.
#6 Show appreciation
Especially when you have a church-wide event, it takes more than one department to pull that off successfully. After the event, take time during a staff meeting to invite team members to publically thank another team member or department who helped them with the event or who they noticed doing a great job. If your team prefers, give them time during the meeting to write thank you notes instead. Either way, it's a great chance to recognize the team effort required to serve your church.
#7 Have fun
There will be seasons where your team is dealing with tight deadlines and a lot of stress. That's a recipe for tension and can lead to some not-so-polite "discussions". To prevent as much of that as possible and help your team blow off some steam, find ways to simply have fun together. Go out to lunch or have it catered. Host a family picnic and invite staff spouses and children. Go bowling, golfing (putt-putt anyone?), or find another fun activity your team will enjoy. The goal is to create an environment where you see each other in the light of being "in this together", not as someone I need to get to do something for me (hey, when there's a lot to do that line gets murky sometimes).
Church growth and more team members create excitement and a few challenges for church staff. Keep the lines of communication open between departments with these tips. They're simple to implement and mostly free with the potential for great results.