Monday, August 13, 2012

Are You DAF?

On Friday my post made reference to a new position being created here at the congregation I serve -- the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church - Unitarian Universalist of Charlottesville, Virginia.  It's called The Director of Administration and Finance.

Today I want to write a little more about it, because it's more than just a new position -- it's the beginning of a new way for us to be doing church.  And I'm excited!

The kinds of faith communities I am most familiar with -- and TJMC is no exception -- are voluntary associations.  While the ordained clergy person -- aka, "the Minister" -- may often be seen and even act as a de facto Chief Operating Officer, the real power, the real authority is held by the Board of Trustees as delegated by the congregation.  It is the congregation -- the individual members joined together in common cause -- that really, ultimately, "runs the show."

That means that congregants -- both "formal" members and dedicated "friends" -- do an awful lot of things that are primarily focused on institutional health and maintenance.  And let's face it . . . these things are not always particularly conducive to deepening one's spiritual life or transforming society.  But they need to be done.

As congregations mature, there is a tendency for them to become aware of this tension and often respond by bringing on professional staff to take responsibility for the things that members either don't want to or really can't do effectively or efficiently.  (As one example, when volunteers are responsible for all of the administrative functions of the institution the quite natural and desirable turnover of leadership creates a challenge in holding on to long-term institutional memory.)

Several years ago the TJMC community recognized it's growing maturity and began to evolve what had been a "church secretary" position into a role that has been called the Congregational Administrator.  A lot of extra responsibility was added to the position but, to be honest, not a whole lot of additional authority.  (This is a bit of a digression, but that's not too atypical an experience in churches -- individuals and groups being given responsibility without the concomitant authority.  Therein lie many, many a churches problems.)

During this past year a truly dedicated band of folks worked to assess the staffing needs of our congregation.  They interviewed staff and key volunteers.  They reviewed job descriptions.  They identified the various tasks that are currently being performed, or that need to be yet aren't.  And they asked, "how could this multiplicity of tasks be accomplished in the most effective and efficient way?"  The report they delivered to the Board, and which has been formally adopted now, is a really exciting vision of church that is growing into greater maturity.

One aspect of this vision is the continued evolution of the "church secretary," then "congregational administrator," into a Director of Administration and Finance.  This new position will take on much of the responsibility for the day-to-day administrative and financial functions of our community and will have the authority to do so.  Responsible directly to the Board of Trustees, the Director of Administration and Finance (DAF) will not have to check each and every decision through web of committees, councils, and strong personalities.  She or he will be given the authority to actually do the things we ask of them!

The Board has created a search committee, and this committee is now actively advertising this new opportunity widely.  It is hoped that we will be able to have interviews in September, with a start date in October.  If you know of anyone who would be -- or should be! -- interested in this position, please pass along the ad below.

This is an exciting first step of a tremendously exciting journey that will assist our congregation to be more fully what I've described as "a total-immersion language school of the soul."  (See my book Serving With Grace:  lay leadership as a spiritual practice for more on this metaphor for congregational life.)

I think that this is going to be an exciting year!

In Gassho,


Director of Administration and Finance
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church – Unitarian Universalist
Charlottesville, VA

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church – Unitarian Universalist (TJMC-UU) seeks a Director of Administration and Finance, starting at 30 hours per week, beginning in October 2012, to manage the administrative and financial functions of the Church under the direction of the President of the Board of Trustees.  Will oversee the daily operations of the Church business office, and supervise administrative staff, working closely with the Minister.  Responsibilities include: office management; budget preparation, controller duties, and financial management; oversight of IT operations; and facilities management. 

Qualifications: A degree in business administration and/or five years of managerial or significant professional experience in a non-profit (preferably religious) or a not-for-profit organization.  Excellent communication and interpersonal skills required.  Flexible office hours with some evening and weekend meetings and activities.  Background check required.

Salary based on professional standards and applicant qualifications.  Salary range: up to $ 30,938, with benefits.  Closing date: August 31, 2012   Please submit resumes and two references by email to:  For more information, call 434-205-4087.
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