As a church secretary, there are days when I love my job, and days when it makes me want to scream. What better day than "Administrative Assistant's Day" (formerly known as Secretary's Day) to publish a few helpful hints on how to make your life a little bit easier for your church secretary.
1. Give me time to worship on Sundays - so please don't show up at my office door just before the service, expecting me to make a pile of copies for you. Allow me to have some quiet time before the service to quiet myself and get ready for the service.
2. If you have an announcement or item to add to the church calendar, please write it down for me. If you just mention it in passing, I'm likely to forget it or mix up the details by the time I get to my desk. You may say, "Oh, it's just one date...", but I may have three other people stop me with similar requests before I get to my office.
3. Don't grill me for confidential information.
4. Don't use me as a go-between if you feel wronged by somebody. The Biblical thing for you to do is to go to the person who has offended you, and work it out with them (Matthew 18).
5. Read your bulletin. I should have made this point #1. One of the most frustrating things about being a church secretary is the number of times this conversation happens:
"I didn't know there was a church dinner today. How come you don't let us know about things like this?"
"It was in the bulletin for three weeks, announced from the pulpit, and in the announcement slides."
"Oh, I never read the bulletin or watch the slides, and I usually come in too late for announcements."
Yes, I've had that conversation more than once... probably once a month. It makes me want to tear my hair out!
6. Be gracious in pointing out errors. I try to proofread the bulletin, prayer lists and newsletters that go out, but sometimes errors slip through. Chances are if the prayer sheet on Wednesday night has five typos in it, it has been a crazy, busy night in the office, and a nasty comment about the mistakes might be the last straw that drives me to tears.
7. Let me know if your contact information changes. When I do bulk mailings, if a person's address has changed, there's a charge for forwarding it and notifying me of the change. If you move and let me know ASAP, I can update my lists and avoid any charges.
8. If you borrow stuff, please put it back from you got it from when you're done. That way, I don't spend half an hour trying to find my stapler!
9. Be willing to serve! One of my least-favorite parts of the job is when I have to get volunteers for ministries. As of today, we've been asking for help in Junior Church for over a month, and still have a month open. The nursery is always looking for more help. We're about the run the bulletin insert for VBS helpers for the third time, because we barely got any responses the first two times. I hate groveling... and nagging... but it takes a lot of help to keep a big church with lots of ministries going.
10. Try to keep after-hour calls to my house to a minimum. I understand if there's an emergency and you want to get the prayer chains going immediately, but I have people calling me for addresses for members who moved away years ago, or to ask if they're signed up for something. I don't bring that information home with me. Please call during office hours, or leave a message on my voicemail and I'll get back to it as soon as I get in for work.
11. Pray for me. The job can be stressful at times, trying to keep hundreds of people informed and happy.