The days of the church secretary are waning.
This position is being replaced with a more contemporary and beneficial position called the ministry assistant. Such as the title communicates, clearly the person is about ministry more than the traditional secretarial skills.
So what does an excellent ministry assistant look like in the world of contemporary ministry? Allow me to share seven traits.
- Good chemistry with the ministry leader. If the ministry assistant and the pastor, for example, don’t get along, the position will be of little use. But even more than getting along, the two have to respect one another and enjoy working with each other.
- Keeps open lines of communications. This communication obviously works both ways. The pastor or other ministry leader must communicate his or her expectations clearly and consistently. The ministry assistant must always keep the leader informed and, as much as possible, avoid surprises.
- Love of ministry. The ministry assistant is a part of the ministry, not an appendage to it. The assistant should see the role as vital to the health of the church or ministry organization.
- Strong relational skills. The ministry assistant typically works with a number of different personalities each day. Assistants must be able to deal with both the pleasant and painful people who cross their path each day.
- Thick skin. I have the best assistant on the planet. I would not ever get done what I get done without the incredible work of Amy Jordan. One of the toughest tasks she has is dealing with cantankerous people. Some of them want to criticize me. Some of them want to get to me through her, and don’t like it when she says no. Ministry is tough. Ministry has critics. The ministry assistant has to deal with them on a regular basis.
- Proactive and flexible. No two days are alike in ministry. The demands come in waves and with great surprises. The ministry assistant must always be anticipating the next thing on the horizon. And the assistant must be flexible to meet the demands as they come.
- Competent. You might have expected I would have listed this trait first. Certainly competency is important, but it is not the most important. If the ministry assistant has the first six traits, that person can likely be taught the skills and technology to be effective in the first quarter of the 21st century.
On a closing note, consider the virtual assistant as a great alternative. My assistant for Church Answers, Jana, lives in Atlanta and I live in Nashville. I have been absolutely amazed how well that relationship works. Of course, it helps that Jana is so good at what she does. I am sold on virtual assistants and the organization, BELAY, which does such an incredible job of matching assistants with leaders.
Ministry assistants are essential to so many ministries today. And whether they are on-site, like Amy, or virtual, like Jana, they make the difference between an adequate ministry and an excellent ministry.