Near the end of each summer, our staff pulls away from daily responsibilities for two days of training—usually at an off campus location. I greatly look forward to this time and spend many hours preparing for it. Although we have staff meeting each week, this annual staff orientation is a time when we pause, evaluate, adjust, and move forward as a team with renewed focus and momentum.
If you are a pastor, I highly recommend planning something similar with your staff. I look forward to sharing the burden God has placed on my heart for our church and ministries, and I know our staff appreciates the time to zero in on catching that vision and planning how to incorporate it in their specific areas of ministry.
Here are five specific goals I have when we conduct staff training:
1. Unity of Heart
Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart…—2 Chronicles 30:12
Although each staff member has varying responsibilities, we all serve on the same team, and it is vital that we all have the same heart. Staff orientation is a great time to reset that unity as we pull apart from daily responsibilities and together look to the work God has called us to do.
Specifically, I ask the Lord to give us a heart that is united around a love for Him and a compassion for the lost. As we love God more, we are humble enough to love one another, and as we grow in a genuine compassion for souls, we are motivated to work with one another.
2. Clarity of Vision
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.—John 4:35
One of my primary responsibilities as a pastor is to seek direction from the Lord for our church and ministry and then lead our staff and church in accomplishing the Great Commission and training of the next generation.
Over the summer, I seek the Lord in matters such as a theme for the new year, new ministries for our church, equipping for our teachers, and much more. I look forward to sharing these with our staff at staff orientation and then with our church family on Vision Night at the beginning of the New Year.
Staff orientation is a time when we’re able to collectively refocus our energies on our core mission—the Great Commission—and then regroup with clarity to effectively launch new areas of ministry or manage current responsibilities with a fresh clarity.
3. Confidence in Christ
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.—1 Thessalonians 5:24
We’ve seen a lot of setbacks to Christianity in our culture over the past several months. It’s easy to become discouraged and lose the confidence that we are investing our lives in a winning cause.
I look forward to reminding our staff that although we serve in challenging times, we serve the omnipotent King of the universe! He honors faith, and He promises to work through us.
4. Cohesiveness in Routines
Let all things be done decently and in order.—1 Corinthians 14:40
Usually on the second day, we’ll review some of our ministry policies and procedures as we strive to move forward effectively and efficiently. We’ll also look at the nuts and bolts of some of the vision casting we did on the first day—how we’ll all work together to implement the fall program, who is leading each ministry, and so on.
5. Measurement of Progress
And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.—Luke 16:2
We’ll discuss accountability (in spiritual growth and ministry responsibilities) and connectivity to one another. We’ll review flow charts for the purpose of being sure everyone knows who is involved in each department, who to contact if they need assistance, and who they report to.
We used to call staff orientation a staff retreat. In one sense it is—we are stepping back to recalibrate for moving forward. But since moving forward really is the goal, we now call it staff advance.
The true test of how effective a particular staff advance was is not how much we enjoy it at the time or how energized we feel about our refocused goals while we’re all gathered together.
The real test on if we met our goals is if we leave with a unity of heart, clarified vision, and greater confidence in Christ. It is if we implement cohesiveness in our routines and, by God’s grace, see measured progress throughout the coming months. This is the kind of momentum that makes a staff orientation a worthy investment.