The New, Slimmed-Down Personnel Team

Steve Dennie (right), Director of Communications

During the recent US National Conference, the delegates approved a significant change to the local church Personnel Relations Team. The new statement says:

“Each church shall have a Personnel Relations Team. Its primary responsibility is to cooperate with the stationing committee in securing a new senior pastor when the need arises. The local board will determine the constituency of the Personnel Relations Team.

“Depending on its structure, a church may give the Personnel Relations Team responsibilities in related areas, such as the work and support of the senior pastor.”

So, what’s that all about? Let me explain.

Denominationally, we give churches the freedom to operate as they see fit, with as few restrictions as possible. During the past 20+ years, we have continually revised the Discipline (our manual of operations, sort of) to give churches additional flexibility in administering their own affairs. It’s become somewhat of a core value. And churches have appreciated it. We’re down to just three requirements for local churches:

  1. A local board (the highest governing body).
  2. Lay delegates (needed only every two years for National Conference).
  3. A Personnel Relations Team.

The Discipline previously stated a number of duties for the Personnel Relations Team, including:

  • Job descriptions for employed personnel.
  • The pastor’s salary and benefits.
  • Serve as a “conferring and counseling” committee to the pastor and other employed personnel.
  • Cooperate with the stationing committee in securing a new pastor.

Many churches prefer to divide some of those duties among different administrative entities—an elder board, finance committee, etc. Some larger churches employ a business manager or executive pastor who handles some of those issues. Is it really necessary to mandate this major administrative group, with these specific duties, for all churches?

No. From a denominational standpoint, we need a Personnel team for just one situation—finding a new senior pastor. A local church group must work through that process alongside the bishop and cluster leader. It doesn’t need to be a permanent group. A Personnel team could be formed when a pastoral transition occurs, and then disbanded.

All of those other responsibilities we heap on the Personnel team—that’s the church’s business. If the church wants to assign other responsibilities to a permanent Personnel team, they can. But it’s not necessary. Their choice.

So, the new statement adopted by the National Conference follows our philosophy of giving churches freedom and flexibility. Technically, a local church doesn’t need to have a Personnel Team except when a pastoral change occurs. We don’t even state who, or how many people, should be on the Personnel team. Let the church decide.

The National Conference approved the change without discussion. Passed right through.

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