I'm in trouble.
I just read the title of this post, and I know I'm asking for trouble. I might have offended some people already.
Hear me clearly. I am not diminishing the worth of church secretaries. I am simply noting a trend that few people are articulating. The position of church secretary is disappearing.
Here are seven reasons why:
1. Many of the responsibilities are being replaced with technology. The Latin origin of the word "secretary" means, "someone entrusted with a secret." For the traditional church secretary, it means dealing with telephone calls, letters, dictation and filing in an appropriate and confidential manner. But look at those items I just listed. They have been, or they are being, replaced with technology. There are not many letters these days, but there are a lot of emails.
2. Assistants are replacing the role of a secretary. The typical nomenclature for such positions is ministry assistant, executive assistant or assistant.
3. Church leaders desire assistants who can navigate the world of blogs and social media strategically. These responsibilities did not exist just a few years ago. Some church secretaries can make the transition; many cannot.
4. Most of the responsibilities of a church secretary were reactive. Pastors and other church leaders seek strategic help. The church secretary's position has been historically fixed and clearly defined. Assistants must adapt to a world where the responsibilities can change every week.
5. Preparing the bulletin and/or the newsletter is no longer all time consuming. I can remember the days when the church secretary used clip art and physically cut and pasted articles. Those time-consuming tasks are no longer necessary.
6. Church leaders desire assistants with time flexibility. The 30 to 40 hour workweek with the same schedule every day is ending. This fast-paced world demands workers with flexibility.
7. Virtual assistants are becoming more common in church life. There are so many reasons virtual assistants are increasingly in demand. Leaders can determine the number of hours they want each week from a VA. One pastor of a smaller church uses a VA 10 hours a week and loves the arrangement. They are also easy to change or let go without the drama of an assistant who is physically present.
Church secretaries have been important and needed employees of churches for decades. I am grateful for them. But the times are changing, and so is the need for church secretaries.
If I opened a can of worms, please forgive me. But this trend is a trend that cannot be ignored.
Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.
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