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Church Office Today
Right Person, Wrong Position
The effort is there, but not the results. How do you proceed?
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  1. Communicate in person, not with email or written letters. You hired this person; show them the respect they deserve by relationally handling a difficult situation.
  2. Try to provide multiple options for a transition that can protect the staff member's dignity. The individual can initiate the resignation if they agree the "fit" isn't right. A transition during a specified period of time is another option. The problem developed over time. Seldom does it have to be solved overnight.
  3. Inform the staff before a decision leaks out, in order to correctly frame the communication, both for the church's sake and the individual's. By doing this, we help ensure that people involved with any behind-the-scenes conversations have a much better chance of getting information right.
  4. Reach out to the staff member's family. It's vitally important that the senior leadership do everything possible to reassure the family of the church's love and support. This will go a long way toward helping the family heal and helping the church move forward in a healthy manner.
  5. Act generously with transition benefits, such as unused vacation pay, severance, and the continuation of health-care coverage for a specified period of time. Such expressions of grace help to quell any feelings that the church acted unkindly.
  6. Assist the transitioning staff member with finding other opportunities. If you can help match the individual's strengths and gifts to another ministry need elsewhere, that also communicates the love and care that should characterize the way we treat people.
  7. If it gets sticky, consult with an attorney. If the employee shows any inclination to fight this decision or resist it in some way, get help. If the circumstances are debatable, or you're not sure you're on solid legal ground, get help. Don't wade into waters that are over your head and pose a risk to the church.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

November 6, 2009


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