Archive for December, 2011

Christmas may not be the best time for such a random post, but I am trying to clean out my inbox to help me de-stress! I’ve worked in various office/administrative positions in four different churches and have several other friends who also hold the role of “Church Secretary” (or any of the more politically correct titles). So over the years I have collected these bits of wisdom. I had finally taken the time to sit down and compile all my notes and it’s been sitting in my inbox waiting for me to do something with it. So here it is!

You know, on second thought, maybe Christmas, being a time of cheer and goodwill (and extra stress for those in church offices), is the perfect time for this post. Share a little goodwill with your church secretary!

Top 5 Church Secretary Myths:

1. Church secretaries know everything! This is so not true. Yes, these multi-talented people are required by their jobs to know and perform a hundred thousand facts and tasks. Yet that does not mean they always know where the other staff are in the building or what the pastor is thinking or who  turned the heat on in room three or or why Mrs. Brown’s children switched her from one nursing home to another or how to operate the coffeepot that someone brought into a Sunday school class. So please do not expect your church secretary to always know everything that happens within the bounds of the church or among the congregation.

2. If a church secretary is present at the church, she is working. Wrong again. Nearly all church secretaries are paid to work a set amount of hours Monday through Friday. Full time secretaries put in at least 40 hours during those days and often volunteer or participate in other church activities just the same as any other member. When a church secretary shows up on church on Sunday morning, she is there for the same reason you are: to worship. But, you may contend, the pastor and music minister and youth leader and children’s coordinator *are* working on Sunday. Yes, indeed, they are! But because it is part of their job requirement to work on Sunday, they also get one weekday off each week. Sunday mornings are not the time for you to stop your church secretary to inquire about using the church’s facility or to rattle off information you want in the bulletin or any other matter of church office business. Not only will you be distracting her from worship, but she is not likely to remember everything that a dozen or more people dump on her that morning. Instead, go up to her, say hello, tell her you’re glad to see her at worship and ask her how she is doing. Sincerely. Treat her as a sister in Christ, hold your list of business items and either call, e-mail or stop in during regular office hours that week.

3. Church secretaries don’t make mistakes. Are you chuckling? Very few in their right mind would ever directly think or say such a statement. Yet that is how many act when a returned call is forgotten, the wrong verses are listed on the worship slides or, heaven forbid, there is a misprint in the bulletin!  Sometimes, even despite several editing processes, errors get overlooked and end up in print or on a slide for all to see. And for all but a few exceptions (there was that January that neither I nor my second pair of eyes caught that the year had not been changed for three weeks in a row), the mistakes do not need pointed out. He is probably already aware of it and praying no one else notices!

4. Church secretaries get direct updates from God regarding prayer needs and personal statuses of their congregants. Their job does not give them special access to some heavenly Facebook page or Twitter feed nor do their cell phones ding with angelic text messages. Nor are they mind-readers. If a prayer request needs forwarded, you have to let the secretary know. If there was a birth or a death or an accident or someone is in the hospital and you want it in the bulletin or on a prayer chain or list, you have to let the church secretary know. If you want to use the church for a meeting or gathering, you have to let the church secretary know. Whatever the situation, please understand that church secretary is not a mind reader and does not know to include, change, update or remove information from the bulletin (or various other outlets) unless she is told! (By the way, this includes knowing about separations or divorces – especially if the church regularly prints birthday and anniversary information so members can send cards to one another!)

5. Church secretaries know everyone in their congregations. Now, this may have been true of Sister Mabel Smith who was secretary for 50 years for a congregation of 80 or even 200 people. Typically, church secretaries know most names, many faces and a few voices. And even then, they do not always pair them together properly! Nor do churches have special phones which list your name, family details, attendance records, tithing status and volunteer positions every time you call (but wouldn’t that be nice)! So when you show up to the office, please give your full name and why you are there. And when you call, give your full name and why you are calling (or the name of the person you are seeking if that be the case). This greatly reduces, confusion, stress and embarrassment on both ends.

In short, do unto your church secretary as you would have your church secretary do unto you!

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