Ed. note: In other posts published this week ( CLICK HERE & HERE to go to them) I've wanted to encourage all of you who do church communications. As we all know it is only in very large churches that communications is the only work you do. In most churches, communications is part of the incredibly demanding work of the church secretary, administrative assistant, or church office administrator. Though one of the most vital positions in the church, it is also one of the most invisible—until the person doing the work is sick for a week and the church almost closes down.
Below Gayle Hilligoss wrote an interesting story about the First Ministry Assistant and in addition to sharing that, I also wanted to share what she enclosed with it that she put into her church newsletter, along with publishing the piece about the First Ministry Assistant. I wanted to highlight this because I think it is a very gracious, yet effective way to point out the essential work being done. Also in talking about the professional group, it shows how people who do this work take their work seriously and are involved in continuing education.
Think of some way you might do something like this in your church—not to simply promote yourself, but to encourage people to pray for and respect the vital ministry you work so hard on each week. With that introduction, enjoy the two articles from Gayle Hilligoss:
Who Was the First Ministry Assistant?
Although I can’t say with certainty who the first scribe who assisted in ministry was, ministry assistants have been around a long time.
Jeremiah 36 reads, “…this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Take a scroll and write on it every word I have spoken to you… Then Jeremiah called Baruch, son of Neriah, and he wrote on the scroll at Jeremiah’s dictation all the words which the Lord had spoken to Jeremiah.”
Throughout religious history, the secretary’s role has been a significant one. Although work is often done in the background, these vital support tasks allow the more visible ministries to succeed.
You can picture this. The Lord tells Jeremiah to write on a scroll, so Jeremiah calls his secretary! He obviously wanted this job done really well. We recognize the work involved—taking dictation, transcribing, and proofreading.
Then, after the final manuscript was ready, the prophet elected to stay safely at home and sent his secretary to the Temple to read the scroll to the crowd. Later, Baruch is even required to re-read it—a task likely not in his job description.
And, after all that, the king cut up and burned the scroll because the words offended him. Guess who was tasked to reproduce another copy. You will want to read the whole story. Fascinating.
Though Paul often noted he was writing passages “with my own hand,” he, too, used the skills of scribes. Romans 16:22 reads: “I, Tertius who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.”
Interestingly, some Biblical scholars say the quality of the Greek used in sections written by Paul is not as correct as in the larger portions written by scribes. A logical conclusion: the secretary corrected spelling and grammar and made the boss look good. Sound familiar?
Although much has changed through the centuries, core tasks of the ministry assistant remain the same.
Secretarial tasks typically involve producing documents, writing, proofreading, record keeping, communicating, and assisting others.
But today’s church secretary does much more than answer the phone and produce the bulletin. There are scores of administrative tasks that when managed well make the office more helpful to members—record keeping, data entry, website updates, reports, document filing, communications, and yes, more.
As the secretary becomes familiar with the work of the church she sees what needs to be done and does it. Furthermore, she does it with excellent skills and a Christian spirit. She is a major asset to any church.
Unless one has been there, it is hard to appreciate how diverse and demanding this job can be. The effective secretary must be a good time manager, be able to work well with people, be able to focus on priorities. She must be caring without taking on the role of a counselor; she must be committed to tasks but be able to put them aside for the unexpected.
For the qualified secretary who loves the Lord, the church office is a marvelous place to serve.
Following is the additional article from her church newsletter
Missouri Baptist Secretaries
Church secretaries do much of the administrative work in over 2000 churches in our state convention. The Baptist Secretaries Association of Missouri (BSAM) holds its annual conference for this dedicated group on September 26-28 at the Bridgeton campus of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home.
In addition to honing office skills, secretaries gain insight for strengthening interpersonal skills and are updated on the latest software and equipment. Continuing education and networking are featured in a wide variety of intensive workshops, while worship sessions provide spiritual renewal.
Having presented for BSAM scores of times, Gayle Hilligoss will present Pardon I—Practical Grammar for Non-grammarians this year. Hoping Bridge readers will find it helpful, a sample of one of the session’s worksheets is on page 6 of this issue of The Bridge.
Although spelling and grammar instruction has taken a hit in the past few years, the ability to write and to speak correctly remain vital skills for those who want their messages to be taken seriously.
Christian communicators who understand their messages are important invest the time and effort required to learn and apply the rules, to work their information carefully, to proofread, and to keep growing in their jobs. Good example, BSAM!