This week we had Darlene Bonang on the podcast. Darlene is the Office Administrator at Saint Benedict Parish in Halifax, NS. It was a great opportunity to speak with someone on the “front lines” as it were, about what it looks like to work within an invitational parish when you’re still expected to “get the job done” and we wanted to delve into this topic a little further.
It is a lot of work to manage the day-to-day operations of a parish office. We need to book rooms, arrange travel, handle financial obligations, and answer roughly 800,000 questions from 800,000 different people on any given day. It’s a lot of work. When we think of what we expect from someone in the role of Office Administrator, we think of the paperwork, the emails, and the phone calls. What most of us DON’T picture is acting as a missionary disciple. We’re too busy handling our “work” to deal with “church” things, right?
The fact is that in every role within the church, the mission and vision should be the same; evangelization. When we say things like, “I don’t have time for that” what we’re really saying is, “that’s not important” and if evangelization is something that’s not important to your parish, we have a much larger problem.
However, things need to get done. Bills need to be paid. Emails need to be written. Phones need to be answered. So how do you do both?
It’s surprisingly simple.
Darlene is the first to admit that she could not possible do everything that needs to get done by herself. So she doesn’t.
Instead, the parish has built up a team of volunteers around her that support the various aspects of mission, while at the same time having the opportunity to use their gifts and build on their experience of what church can be like. For far too many, church is something that we “do”, once a week. What happens when you give people an opportunity to have a relationship with a community and with Jesus on a regular basis?
Your church moves from maintenance to mission.
Instead of a single individual working with all their might to keep the lights on, you end up with a team of people willing to be carriers of that light. Leadership done right is not about doing. Leadership done right is about inspiring and getting out of the way. A great leader will recognize their own strengths and their own weaknesses and build a team that helps fill in the gaps. That’s what Darlene has done.
How do you raise up leaders? We wrote a whole book about one way to do it, but one of the most important things is to give them an opportunity to lead.
That’s what Darlene has accomplished at Saint Benedict Parish. She identified what she could do and what she needed and then she helped inspire and mobilize a team of people to make sure that the jobs get done. There is still always a phone ringing. There are still always emails to be written. There are still bills that need to get paid. Those things are never going to slow down as long as your parish is alive. That’s the reality of parish life. However, if you want to feel like you can get YOUR work done and get THE work done, you cannot do it alone.
Find people. Ask people. Support people. Lift people up and you will be lifted up as well.