Churches and other Christian ministries and organizations ought to be among the best places to work in service to God and others, right? Right!
Except that some, sadly, are not.
I’ve worked in the church and nonprofit ministry world for over 20 years. From my personal experience, and that of friends who’ve worked for other churches and ministries, I’ve observed first-hand that some Christian organizations are absolutely great places to work, while others stink. Some give life, and the workers leave the office most every day with a feeling of satisfaction and joy, and others suck the life right out of everybody who works there.
What makes the difference? As John Maxwell says, everything rises and falls on leadership.
Because while an organization may have a worthy Christian purpose or mission to it, that doesn’t automatically guarantee that its leaders are good at creating an environment or culture where it’s fun to come to work everyday, where employees and volunteers truly feel valued and appreciated, and where they can see results and know that their job makes a real difference in the lives of others for the cause of Christ.
I don’t believe that pastors or ministry leaders set out to be bad bosses. It’s just that some haven’t been trained – or taken the time to learn – how to equip and empower others for success, how to genuinely show appreciation to others, and how to use people without using people.
What I mean is that some leaders are great at recruiting and hiring staff and volunteers but not so great and setting them up for success, creating healthy boundaries for them, providing the training and tools they need to do their job, showing genuine appreciation, gaining feedback, and making changes as needed in response to suggestions.
The founders of Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI) observed these problems, and in 2002 set out on a mission to help Christian employers be the best, most effective places to work in the world. It helps faith-based organizations by creating processes of discovery, facilitating organizational effectiveness, and encouraging practices that build healthy workplaces with a Christian mission or values.
Hundreds of Christian organizations in the U.S., Canada, and Australia have worked with BCWI to become certified as “Best Christian Workplaces.”
To gain that certification, each organization’s employees must answer more than 50 questions measuring employee satisfaction in terms of organizational commitment, Christian witness, supervisory effectiveness, opportunities for personal growth and development, customer/supporter satisfaction, teamwork, communication, and fairness of pay and benefits.
2013 List of the Best Christian Workplaces in America
Each year, BCWI releases reports of the Best Christian Workplaces in the U.S. and Canada. The lists include the top Christian camps, colleges and universities, churches, parachurch and mission organizations, and service providers, based on surveys of employees that rated how well these companies and organizations nurtured and cared for their employees. Here is the 2013 list of the Best Christian Workplaces in the U.S.
Camps & Conference Centers
- Briarcrest Christian School - Memphis, TN
- Evangelical Christian School – Cordova, TN
- Grapevine Faith Christian School – Grapevine, TX
- Heritage Christian Academy – Overland Park, KS
- King’s Schools – Seattle, WA
- Legacy Christian Academy - Frisco, TX
- Lenawee Christian School – Adrian, MI
- Seattle Urban Academy – Seattle, WA
- Wheaton Academy – Wheaton, IL
- Central Baptist Church – Sioux Falls, SD
- Crossroads Christian Church – Corona, CA
- Faithbridge Church – Spring, TX
- Fielder Church – Arlington, TX
- The Christian and Missionary Alliance – Colorado Springs, CO
- Vineyard Church – Kansas City, MO
Parachurch & Missions
- Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries – Birmingham, AL
- American Bible Society – New York, NY
- Apartment Life – Hurst, TX
- Christian Veterinary Mission – Seattle, WA
- Coalition for Christian Outreach – Pittsburgh, PA
- CRISTA Ministries – Seattle, WA
- English Language Institute/China – Ft. Collins, CO
- Joni and Friends – Agoura Hills, CA
- Mission India – Grand Rapids, MI
- MOPS International – Denver, CO
- Rescue Mission – Tacoma, WA
- The Navigators – Colorado Springs, CO
- Upward Unlimited – Spartanburg, SC
- World Concern – Seattle, WA
- World Harvest Mission – Jenkintown, PA
Products & Services
- Alliance Defending Freedom – Scottsdale, AZ
- Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) – Orlando, FL
- CapinCrouse LLP – Greenwood, IN
- CRISTA Senior Living – Seattle, WA
- Samaritan Ministries International – Peoria, IL
Help Your Church or Ministry Become a Great Christian Workplace
If you’re a church or ministry staff person, member, donor or supporter, I’d encourage you to visit the Best Christian Workplaces Institute website to learn about the resources and services they provide, to help your organization become an even better place to work.
And check out Patricia Lotich’s books, Smart Church Management and Smart Volunteer Management for lots of helpful tips and suggestions on how ministry leaders can equip their employees and volunteers for success in doing the ministry God has called them to do.
Are you a church or ministry staff person or volunteer? How well does your organization do at creating a healthy workplace environment? Leave a comment!