Lana Rose knows. Ministry assistants have told her.
"Most churches have fewer than 200 members," said Rose, ministry assistant (MA) specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention who leads MA training events for LifeWay Christian Resources. "These churches usually have one ministry assistant and maybe one financial secretary. So, these MAs have a lot of work to do."
As Rose puts it, "Respect, appreciation and common courtesy go a long way in helping an MA feel affirmed in the work."
When Rose asked the assistants on her email list what they wish their pastors knew, dozens of responses came quickly.
Rose said they seemed to fall into three categories: professional, personal and personality.
-- I could be a wealth of information to him. I often stand in the gap between him and the church members, so I have knowledge that could be helpful if he would just ask.
-- I would like to be reimbursed when I use my own car and cell phone for church business.
-- I would like for him to go to bat for me on salary and benefit issues. I deserve to make a livable wage.
-- I want to be acknowledged for my professional skills. I am skilled in computer software, financial software and graphic design, plus I have exceptional interpersonal and relational skills that I use with church members and church staff members.
-- I want to have the freedom to come to him and appropriately share struggles within the church family. He doesn't always know what is going on.
-- I want to be kept in the loop. If he gets a call about a celebration, a sickness or especially a death in the church family, I need to know. And, I'd like to be kept informed about his schedule.
-- I appreciate it when he talks positively about me in front of church members and other church staff members. If they see that he values me, they will value me as well.
-- I am intensely loyal to him and our church. I stand up for him when others criticize him.
-- I wish he would say "good morning" to me when he comes in each day and would show interest in my family and me.
-- I wish he would be more in tune with the church members' struggles and health issues. I hear about it when they think he doesn't care.
-- I'd like to see him visit with church members more, especially the homebound.
-- I want him to understand that no matter how much education he has or how well he preaches, people mostly just care about how much he loves them.
-- I wish he would spend more time with his family and in prayer.
"A high majority of the ministry assistants I have talked with have a sense of calling to their position just like a pastor or other minister," said Rose, whose next Ministry Assistant Training event is July 24-26 at the Tennessee Baptist Convention office in Brentwood.
"For many of them, it's that sense of calling that keeps them there, despite the traditionally low pay and long hours."
Polly House writes for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For more information about Ministry Assistant Training, to go www.lifeway.com/Event/leadership-training-ministry-assistants-training-brentwood-tn.
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