by Dave Anderson-Church Accounts Manager YCA
Generally, there are two types of leaders:
Those who love policies.
Those who hate policies.
Some might say that an easier way to say this is:
Those who are fun.
Those who are not fun.
Being a lover of rules, I take offense to that assumption and believe that we need a policy to ban it.
Policies are important because they define what is allowable and what is not. You can’t enforce things that you haven’t defined.
What if your youth pastor stopped attending church on Sundays? You would hopefully want to correct or terminate him. Did you ever define the required workweek with him? Is there a written policy that he was given?
He might be able to legally argue that he was never told that Sundays are a required part of his workweek because you never defined it.
You cannot assume that an employee knows what a policy or work requirement is. Sure, everyone SHOULD know that working for a church requires Sunday attendance, but what about things like:
Requirements for working with minors.
Counselling members of the opposite sex.
Handling of cash/making purchases.
Use of vacation and personal time.
Personal use of facilities.
Avoid potential conflict by defining the requirement before it becomes an issue. Staff are less likely to do dumb things if you define the dumb things before they have the opportunity to do them. (Well, hopefully….)
Every church or organization should have a policy manual. It should clearly define the expectations.
You should have an general employee manual that covers everyone. Then departmental policies that cover only specific areas of ministry, like kids or youth.
Too many policies can strangle an organization. Only focus on those that define work responsibilities, meet legal requirements, and keep the workplace safe and comfortable for all.
You don’t need to create a policy for every single situation that might happen.
Say for example the children’s pastor starts a water balloon fight in the sanctuary. There is no need to revise your policy manual with a “No water balloons in the sanctuary policy.” Have a serious conversation with the offender and move on.
I once worked for a leader that created a policy for every single mistake that ever happened or might happen. The policy manual was literally updated weekly and was nearly four inches thick. (Apparently we did a lot of dumb.) I wanted to suggest a policy banning dropping it on your toes!
Every employee should receive a written job description and compensation package. Avoid hurt feelings about responsibilities, personal days, or rates of pay by defining them up front.
They should also be given a written copy of company policies and sign that they have read and understand these documents.
These steps greatly reduce the chances for poor decisions and misunderstandings. They help protect your organization and make it easier for you to deal with disciplinary issues when needed.
Times change. Read through your policies each year and update as needed.
We recommend that you consult with an attorney or human resources professional when drafting a policy handbook for your ministry.
There are also several free resources that can be of great help.
One of my favorites is: https://open.life.church/resources/1749-hr-documents-procedures
Finally, I purchased a boomerang from Amazon yesterday because I heard they have a great return policy.
(See, policy lovers can be fun!)