So Your Job is Church: How to Separate Faith & Work

So Your Job is Church: How to Separate Faith & Work

May 27, 2014 by

So you work at the church you attend. As church communicators we face the complicated task of worshipping at the same place where we work. It can make for some awkward moments.

This has probably happened to you: You’re singing your heart out in worship. Your hands are raised. Your eyes are closed. Then someone taps you on the shoulder. There’s an issue that requires your attention. Something isn’t running perfectly smooth and it turns into a minor emergency that only you can handle.

Or perhaps maybe it’s internal: You’re sitting in the pew listening to the sermon. Halfway through the message you realize you’re not following along because you’ve been critiquing the service.

Or maybe you’re secluded in the control room and as soon as the message starts you disengage. You catch up on social media or step out to wander around.

Being on staff at the church you call home definitely presents some challenges.

Realities of Working in a Church

Here are some things I’ve learned that have helped me navigate these issues:

  • I am a Christ-follower before I am my job. This means I am not exempt from the need to be spiritually fed. It includes being intentional about attending church regularly, tithing, serving, discipling people, praying and studying the word daily—things we expect people who attend our churches to do. If you are married and have kids, they need to see you as a child of God more than as a church staff member. And being single or not having kids isn’t an excuse—you still need to take care of yourself spiritually.
  • Like anyone in the marketplace who is known as a Christ follower, I am expected to represent the Lord well and do a consistently good job. When I am on the clock, I need to do my job well. This includes staying engaged with what God is doing. This also includes modeling to people of my congregation the posture of worship, submission and application I expect to have when working or attending a church service or event.
  • Like any organization, someone has to be available to cover responsibilities. The best way to shift away from the culture of interrupting a staff member’s worship is to have people who can be on call when needed. Establish clear processes and communication about who’s responsible for each position in each service.
I am a Christ-follower before I am my job. This means I am not exempt from the need to be spiritually fed.

How to Build the Right Culture

Culture change takes time. Here are some steps to facilitate that:

  1. Define the roles and create job descriptions for what you do during services.
  2. Develop a team. (Need help engaging volunteers?)
  3. Put a scheduling process in place: Who’s on call and who’s the backup?
  4. Communicate to key leaders about the assignments and scheduling process.
  5. And if you get that tap on the shoulder when you are not working (which will happen), simply defer to the system you have in place. Success will come when they get what they need without you. Build the confidence that the system works and they don’t need to always call on you.

I count it as a huge blessing to do what I do. Most members of the tribe I know feel the same way. But I can love my job and my church even more when I’m able to be fully present in both roles.


We do important work—sharing the gospel—but that doesn’t mean we can work ourselves to death. Learn more about how to fight church communicator burnout.

Photo by GLS Site 219
Post By:

Kelvin Co

Kelvin Co gets to do what he loves as the creative arts pastor of The Oaks Fellowship located in the Dallas Metroplex area. Kelvin has been doing life together with his wife and best friend Lucy since 1991, and they have been doting on and pouring into their son Luc since 2002.
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8 Responses to “So Your Job is Church: How to Separate Faith & Work”

  • Jared Brandon
    May 27, 2014

    I’ve been wrestling with this a little bit lately. As a Communications Director, I’m constantly analyzing the words that are being used, the ones that are missing, the graphics, the flow, the stage presence…everything. It’s tough to make this separation, but desperately needed. At my multi-site church, we pre-record the teaching on Thursday night to re-image on Sunday to 2 campuses. That’s when I plan and schedule my social media content that’s based on the teaching. Then on Sunday, I attend at least two services as an employee because Sunday is actually a work day for us (we do Sun-Thurs now). Then I attend one with my wife as my “worship time.” But by that time I’ve heard the teaching at least three times, and it gets a little monotonous and I can’t turn my analyzer/criticizer off. It’s rarely an issue with emergencies that only I can fix. It’s really just a me-problem.

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  • michelle
    May 27, 2014

    I can so relate to what Jared Expressed. Sometimes I go to a neighboring church just for the sake of anonymity. Its extremely difficult to disengage from work and simply worship.

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  • Bethany
    May 27, 2014

    I get that. As the only secreary/communications director for my sweet church, often things will come up that distract me– a typo here, a small change from a volunteer there, something that I just plain forgot… I waver between insanity from critiquing and major discrouagement from my own mistakes. Add my personal responsibilities of service in youth group and occaisionally nursery and children’s church, and trying to catch up with friends and family… It can be rather overwhelming and it can make focused worship difficult.

    I notice a difference when I prepare as much as possible, take my time to ensure no minor mistakes or typos occur (proofers are huge on this), and delegate where I can. And really, the biggest thing is just relinquishing control, remembering that what I do is extremely important but *not imperative* and that there’s only so much I can do and must leave the rest to God.

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  • William
    May 28, 2014

    I’ve been in the role of Communications Editor and now Director for about ten years. About two years ago I made the difficult decision to start attending a different church closer to where I live than the one at which I work and though hard at first, it has been a blessing. I had forgotten what it was like to have a church family that didn’t employ me, where I don’t have to answer to anyone. Now I have a place where I get new ideas, where I can engage as a member and not just as staff, where I can hear a message that is new to me and I haven’t been a part of planning, and my heart doesn’t sink in the middle of worship, disconnecting me from the experience, if I notice typos or the projection doesn’t run smoothly.
    I do still feel the need to “work” a few Saturdays and Sundays, but otherwise I am blessed to have a great team of hospitality, worship leaders and Pastors to give me feedback on the production side of things. And, I come into work on Monday fresh from having real weekends again.

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  • Eric Dye
    May 30, 2014

    Top notch. Thank you!

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  • Renae Nicholes
    June 1, 2014

    I’ve been a member of the church where I serve as Communications Director for 12 years (I’ve been employed there for 8). It took me several years after beginning my job to enjoy worship (mostly) free from anxiety. I’m also responsible for the church announcements on stage, and this natural introvert experienced nightmares almost every Saturday night for years. Between the anxiety and, as others have mentioned, unconscious critiquing of the service/sermon, it was a long time before I felt like a worshipper on Sunday mornings. It changed (albeit slowly over time) as I saw communications as a ministry–not just a job. It’s so easy to see what our ministers/pastors do as ministry and to see the technical side of things (production, communications, etc) as something different. As I began to change my attitude from that of an employee to that of a minister and view my responsibilities as opportunities for ministry (e.g. I have the honor and great privilege of getting to speak to my church family each week and help guests feel welcomed), my anxiety lessened over time and my enjoyment of Sundays has greatly increased. Our struggle is no different than the pastor who struggles with engaging in worship over reflecting on his sermon notes or the Children’s Minister who struggles to find peaceful worship in the midst of corralling children–ministers, too, can easily slide into duty over worship. We all have to continually fight against that by being grateful for the opportunity and privilege to serve God and His church in this capacity, prayerfully submitting our preparations to His purposes and power, and investing in our personal relationship with Christ and private times of worship. When we take on the job/ministry, we accept the challenges that go with it. I’m called to be a servant, but I choose whom I will ultimately serve & worship–God or the details. I want to consciously choose each week to serve God through my responsibilities as Communications Director. “Laborare est orare”–To work is to pray!

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  • Ayanna Costa
    March 25, 2015

    Don’t work for a church. It’s terrible politics and they take advantage of the employees and volunteers for the sake of “Worship” . One thing I would have to admit, I thought being in a faith based environment would alter my thoughts about the system of God and Belief but it has only continued to push me away and given me confirmation that when I left the church years ago mentally I did the right thing. Now I need to remove myself completely as a work environment too.

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  • Curt
    February 5, 2017

    I’m an editor, animator, and motion graphics artist at a large church. And I can’t remember the last time I was able to attend a service or worship with my wife because (though I get to edit Tue-Fri) I have to work every Sunday. I just set up computers, push a button if needed, or run a robocam. And having to work on Sundays means that I sometimes get both Sat and Mon off, but it’s quite hard to plan anything with family because of it. It also means my time is mostly wasted just sitting around, which another volunteer or less experienced person could easily do instead. The guy who had my job before me worked Mon-Fri and was able to volunteer one Sunday a month to run a camera. Worked great. I’d love that setup. Because, due to this, I feel that I’ve been unable to form any kind of spiritual community for my wife and I here or at any other church. It’s a bummer that working for a church can lead to a less spiritual/relational healthy life for me and my wife. I do hope the other editor and I will be able to shift to a five days on, two days off schedule eventually. Or I might have to start looking for work elsewhere to give my future family a healthy environment at a church and with a small group.

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