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Considering Your Staff When Adding a Service

Melanie Morel Ensminger, in minister robes and stole, speaking from a sanctuary podium.

Adding a worship service inevitably means more work for the congregation’s staff, both professional and support. The leaders of worship and religious education must not only repeat the service, create a separate special focus, and oversee another religious education program but also do more planning, recruiting, and preparing.

  • For religious educators, having more teachers means giving more support in communication and planning. Increased attendance means more parents to talk with and the need for more outside communication.
  • Pastoral concerns may increase, as may the need for a good system to keep track of the lives of members. There may be more new people to welcome and integrate into the community.
  • Administrative staff will have more orders of service to prepare, increased newsletter production and mailing, and more hours to provide office staffing. 
  • Custodial staff will face additional traffic and sometimes additional setup and cleaning time, especially if the new worship service is not on the same day as the existing service.

It pays off in the long run if the individuals whose workload will be affected by the change are brought into the process early on. Not every minister wants to preach twice on Sundays, and some find it harder to preach to two smaller houses than one larger one. Further, with the increased work of the additional service, the minister may need to cut back in other aspects of  congregational life, to be offered additional compensation or benefits, or to have an increased ministerial staff. The positions of religious educators, administrators, and custodial staff members, especially those who are part-time, should be reviewed with a realistic eye toward increasing hours and compensation.

A particularly sticky problem is part-time staff members who do not wish to increase their hours. Should they be replaced, should additional part-time staff be brought in to share the work, or should the process be held back? No right answers to these questions exist, and every congregation will have particular issues they need to address. However, in all instances the key is involving the staff (or consulting with them early and often) as the plan for adding a worship service progresses.

Congregations may wish to consult the Office of Church Staff Finances or their local compensation consultant for help in assessing the equitable pay level in light of the increasing responsibilities brought about by the additional service and increasing membership. 

About the Author

UUA Congregational Life Staff Group

The regional Congregational Life staff are congregations' local connection to the UUA. All of the program Congregational Life staff have expertise in most aspects of congregational life and each also has a few program areas of expertise. See the...

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.