How to Hold Staff Accountable without Required Office Hours

Sam Rainer

July 31, 2016


If you don’t require office hours for church staff, then how can you hold them accountable? This question became a common response to my previous post on not requiring office hours. A Twitter follower, @IanDaKitchen, suggested I write a follow-up post. I thought he made a good suggestion.

I believe an unwillingness to be held accountable is one of the greatest weaknesses in church leadership. Too many people define leadership as influence. I roll my eyes every time I read the sentence “Leadership is influence.” It’s a great snippet for Twitter, but it’s a naïve and dangerous thought. When influence is detached from accountability tyrants are born. True leaders are willing to be held accountable by followers first, then influence comes second.

How do you hold staff accountable without office hours? First, you do need at least one support person (paid or volunteer) at the church for regular office hours. My previous post concerned ministry and pastoral staff, not support staff. Second, if your system of accountability is limited to the church building, then you need a new system. Just because people are on site and in an office does not mean good work is occurring.

Every church is different. Every context is different. And there are many different ways to staff a church. I will give general guidelines on accountability because it’s impossible to create universal metrics for staff accountability.

When holding staff accountable, start by considering the following three concepts:

  1. Scope of the staff person’s job. Scope includes the number of job responsibilities. For instance, someone overseeing technology may have a large job scope—lots of tasks to complete every week to keep church operations running smoothly. A teaching pastor with the single responsibility of delivering a weekend message has a small job scope.
  2. People footprint in church. Footprint includes the number of people managed. The children’s minister typically has one of the largest footprints in the church—a fact often unnoticed by top leaders. In most churches, both small group ministry and children’s ministry are the largest footprints—lots of people to manage on an ongoing basis.
  3. Visibility. Does the job require the staff person to connect with a large portion of the church on a regular basis? Teaching pastors and worship pastors have high visibility positions, and there is a certain pressure that comes with these positions unlike other positions in the church.

After considering scope, footprint, and visibility, then create a system of accountability specific to the staff person:

  1. If the staff person has a large ministry scope, then he or she needs task-oriented accountability. This person must be efficient and quick. Unlike someone with a large footprint or high visibility, this person’s personality and demeanor are less important. What is more important is the ability to multi-task with excellence. Hold them accountable to tasks, efficiency, and excellence.
  2. If the staff person has a large ministry footprint, then a high EQ and managerial skills are important. Unlike someone with high visibility, stage presence is less important. What is crucial with a large ministry footprint, however, is the ability to mobilize people. Hold them accountable to relationships built and managerial aptitude.
  3. If the staff person has high visibility, then he or she needs to command a large audience and endear themselves to people. In short, they need to be likable. They also need to maintain a high energy level. They may not have as many tasks as the person with a large scope, and they may not have as much managerial oversight as the person with the large footprint, but the entire church will likely know them. Hold this person accountable to creating a compelling vision and the ability to inspire others.

If required office hours are the way you create a system of accountability, then you will not likely draw or keep staff with abilities of scope, footprint, or visibility. In fact, required office hours are the way to kill all three.


2 comments on “How to Hold Staff Accountable without Required Office Hours”

  1. Karen says:

    Thank you so much for this!!! It certainly is very helpful and provides clear answers for concerns that arose from the previous post by addressing different types of ministry staff.

    1. Sam Rainer says:

      Sure thing, Karen. Thanks for reading!

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