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New support structure for church workers
Church workers within the LCA have a new support structure in place.
The LCA Board for Lay Ministry has been decommissioned as part of the transition to the new Church Worker Support Department (CWS). The aim of the change is to provide comprehensive, consistent and compliant care, support and management for all church workers, including volunteers.
While the former board and staff worked directly with lay workers only, the new system covers pastors, lay workers and other church employees, as well as volunteers. The CWS department will support congregations to meet their administrative and governance responsibilities, in order to free them up for mission and ministry.
Outgoing board chair Kym Wallent said a major achievement during his three-year tenure was the continued evolution of Lay Worker Formation Officer positions, which provided one-on-one care to lay workers through a combination of employment conditions support, mentoring and training.
He said CWS would provide a ‘centralised support base that ensures employment conditions are consistent’.
Mr Wallent said the main challenges facing congregations supporting people who serve the church were no different in some ways than those facing any organisation. ‘They set clear objectives, have clear expectations of the people doing the serving (job description), have clear human resources support policies and make sure performance is reported and assessed’, he said.
‘For many congregations, it often gets difficult due to inadequate leadership skills and lack of money. And it's sometimes complicated further by an expectation of love-based service which can equate to the servant being expected to do a lot for not much return. If congregations can get the employment framework balanced, then the ongoing focus will be ministry outcomes.’
CWS Manager Christine Materne said the department’s main priorities were that each church worker would ‘start well’ with a congregation or agency, with appropriate position descriptions or call documents, service agreements or volunteer covenants; ‘stay and grow’ with opportunities for growth and development; and ‘finish well’ when they leave for another position or retire.