Thoughts from an Incoming SPRC Chair

January 7, 2021

Meg Sheehan, Northern Piedmont District, Covenant Church, Lay Member

How do you say “no” to your pastor? About one year ago, my pastor asked me if I would be interested in serving on the Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC).  While I have over thirty years of experience in education and leadership, I have zero experience in church management and operations! I was honored to be asked and willingly agreed to serve.  Of course, since March 2020 (the start of the pandemic), nothing has been normal!  With that said, the first eleven months of serving have been…interesting to say the least!  As time went on, I felt comfortable serving as a committee member and being able to contribute to utilizing lessons learned throughout my career. Now that I have been asked to chair SPRC, my mind has been racing to think of ways to build my own capacity and that of the team while also increasing our overall impact on the church.

In some respects, the work of the church as an employer is similar to other businesses and organizations. As the incoming SPRC Chair, I have put some thought into what I need to know and what would be beneficial for new committee members.  In an attempt to maintain stability and consistency with committees within the church, it might be a good idea to structure all committees with two individuals serving in leadership roles, one as the chair and one as the vice-chair or chair-elect. This would provide a built-in succession plan with the expectation that the vice-chair would take over the chair position after the chair’s term expired.  

I also believe it is vital to provide a “Welcome to SPRC” so that new members fully understand the role of the committee as well as their role on the team. Below is a list of ideas generated for an onboarding process, which with minor alterations, could be applicable across other church committees. 

Onboarding Process:

  • Understanding of Church Governance - chart explaining the various committees along with their role, responsibilities, and relationship to one another
  • SPRC Scope of Work 
    • Understanding what the conference does versus what the SPRC does
    • Framework for the work of the committee - specific roles and responsibilities
    • Human resource protocol - staffing process, hiring, selection process, interviewing, reference checking, evaluations, performance reviews, disciplinary action
  • Expectations for committee members (attendance and participation)
  • Resources/Documents - provide current organizational chart, job descriptions, staff handbook, budget, previous meeting agendas and meeting minutes, logistical information such as meeting dates/times
  • Communication
    • Expectations on communication - a chain of command for staff, HR related matters, reporting to Church Leadership Council
    • List and contact information of current committee members (along with their background information and work experience). It is important to have committee members with longevity for a historical perspective on church issues.
Leadership Development