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Church Secretary

And you are...?

One day I may be at a place where I need to hire a church secretary.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  That’s a whole can of worms that deals with values and such – I’m not going into that right now.  However, I do know what I’m going to look for when I look for a secretary.  Here are my thoughts on the important ministry of church secretary.

Hiring a good church secretary is difficult.  You might have to beg the right person.  You might have to go outside the congregation.  You will probably need to pour money into training the right person.  You’ll especially have to train them on the mission and vision of the church.  But one thing you can’t do is train them in hospitality.

Hospitality is the thing.  If your church secretary doesn’t have the gift of hospitality, you’re sunk.  They are the first person of contact for most people entering or calling the church building.  A grumpy voice is death to any opportunity for ministry.  An attitude that seems to say, “I’ll do this for you, but only because it’s my job, not because I love my job” will leave the inquirer or person needing help feeling like an imposition.

Hospitality from the front desk means making people feel like they are the most important thing in your life and your job at that moment.  Printing the bulletin or stuffing envelopes can wait, and the person coming in from outside or calling from wherever need to feel that.  Because, in fact, they are the most important thing in your life and job.  I realize that it can be a meticulous job that requires a detail-oriented mind and a person who can get on task and complete it in a timely manner, but it must all be hung on a peg for a few minutes to deal with people.

Something else important in hiring a secretary (I’m using that word, but you know I mean whatever the politically correct version is, right?) is treating them like they are actually part of the ministry, and not just a part, but a vital part of the church’s work in the world.  If your secretary doesn’t see that they are, in fact, the most important link in the ministry, they will miss the mark.  He or she needs to see that they are the main supporting ligament in the body of Christ.  They connect, they hold up, they support – and nobody else is going to do that.

They protect the pastor, they keep their mouth shut when they know something that’s none of their business, they advocate for those not noticed, they are the eyes and ears where the pastor can’t go.  They have, without a doubt, the most crucial “job” in the church office.  Church’s run just fine without a pastor, but without a secretary?  Huh uh.  They need to be held in high regard and paid a serious remuneration – not just a minimum.

I wrote a few days ago about Barb the church secretary who said, “yes.”  It shows that the secretary is the doorkeeper.  He sees the mail and throws out the rubbish.  She can put your request on the fast or slow burner.  The secretary wields an enormous amount of “power” in the church, and next to hospitality the most important thing a secretary must have is a humble, teachable, gentle spirit that isn’t looking for power.  I guess what I’m saying is this person must be spiritually mature, and her or his level of maturity will directly correspond to the level of ministry the church is able to accomplish.

Big job.  The right person can make the church flourish.  The wrong one can bring it to a grinding halt.

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  1. kelly wierenga
    May 30, 2011 at 6:40 am

    My grandma was the church secretary at First Church for a long time, I remember going there and hanging out there with her, I believe she had some of these qualities, thanks for the trip back in time:) I totally agree with the importance of a church secretary.

  2. Dave
    May 30, 2011 at 7:06 am

    My experience?

    You are so ‘spot on’…

  3. Janet Koolhaas
    May 31, 2011 at 10:12 am

    So true! Hope you don’t mind if I pass this on to a couple of friends who are church secretaries.

  4. May 31, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Jim – excellent words of truth and wisdom!! Our ministry assistant Alysa that we worked with is an amazing woman of God – she GETS it in every way. Mission, vision, prayer, hospitality, confidentiality, all of it, AND incredibly gifted and creative in every way imaginable to keep everything in the office running and smooth. And Pam before her was such a gift as well – her husband is a long time pastor, so she was well aware of the ins and outs of church life and had such a servants heart and joy and love for all. True partner in ministry and the glue holding things together is spot on!

  5. Debra
    May 17, 2014 at 9:04 pm


    A church secretary is a very important person in the ministry, please dont take this person job for granted. All the qualities you want them to have they want in you also.
    Please show the person apperciation, not only by saying thank you with words. Apperciation is a action word! Sometimes the secretary is the most overlooked, over worked person in the ministry.
    Yes I agree they must be a protector of the Bishop/Pastor, and have all the qualities you mentioned. The Lord broke the word secretary down to me as follows: secret= You will know alot of secrets and Tary= you will have to tary, stay before the Lord in constant prayer, In and out of season. Im speaking from experience as a church secretary.
    May the Lord guide you is my prayer. I found your site looking for insprirational poems for church secretaries because I need to be encouraged. Thanks

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