Hiring Family at Church: Are You Asking For Trouble?

Married couples on staff at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
Married couples on staff at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. (DanReiland.com)

Is working at the same church similar to putting up wallpaper together? As a married couple, are you asking for trouble if you work together at the same church? Or is it a good thing to work at the same place?

I have written on the subject of hiring family. This idea of married and on the same team is a new subject.

Rather than merely express what I think, I asked the six married couples (of 151 staff at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia) who are on our team two questions:

1. What makes it work?

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2. What makes it not work?

Here are their candid answers.

WHAT MAKES IT WORK

Dustin & TJ Aaagaard

"A huge positive is that TJ and I both have the same day off. This means every Friday she and I have the entire day together while the kids are in school. This leads to lots of great date days and working together around the house just the two of us. This is huge for us in our stage of life of being married with kids at home. We like that fact that both TJ and I share a passion for 12Stone and love having a common thread of going after the heart and vision of the church together. Practically speaking, because I am on staff I understand and believe in the sacrifices she has to make and vice versa."

Ryan & Courtney Haworth 

"Loving what we do. Our work excitement and love for 12Stone spills over into our relationship and makes it positive and healthy.  I can't imagine one of us not loving what we get to do. Similar schedules & understood expectations. Helps us manage and plan our time both at work and at home. Keeps us planners sane! We better understand the work expectations on each other, which helps us encourage each other in the busy seasons or just busy weeks. If one of us comes home complaining or frustrated the other does not join in on the complaining but pushes the spouse to have hard conversations or helps them see the other perspective."

Cory & Cami Lebovitz

"Mutual Submission to the call (we don't place one of our callings ahead of the other – work as a team). Fight to keep "Big Rocks" in place (Date night, family time, time with friends)."

Chris & Lisa Huff

"Respect titles and position. You can't use your access as a husband or wife to insert your opinion inappropriately. Respect confidentiality. There are things that can't be shared even though it's the same organization."

Deidrick & Brandi Overby

"Having boundaries in conversation so that all conversations aren't about ministry and work. Being intentional about praying for each other's ministries, so that you're supporting your spouse's ministry instead of competing with it."

Miles & Jennie Welch

"There is no competition between us. We both celebrate each other's wins and are a team even if we are in different departments. And campuses."

WHAT MAKES IT NOT WORK

Dustin & TJ Aagaard

"Sundays are a bit challenging as far as a schedule and dealing with the kids. I'd encourage others to get into a rhythm that works for them to grow in their faith together in addition to the Sunday services since Sundays are workdays."

Ryan & Courtney Haworth

"Warning: While your conversations at home are safe, be careful how you feed/fuel negative conversations about church people and situations. Private negative feelings can be internally developed, and if not careful, may be externally displayed in inopportune moments at work."

Cory & Cami Lebovitz

"Don't let all your home-time conversations be about work— avoid becoming 24/7 co-workers."

Chris & Lisa Huff

"Be slow to vent to your spouse about your department. It's normal to unwind the stress with each other but be careful not to poison the working relationship for the spouse."

Deidrick & Brandi Overby

"It is difficult to not attend church regularly together when on different campuses. So the caution is to make sure that you are paying attention to each other's spiritual growth and asking questions and discussing service."

Miles & Jennie Welch 

"We respect each other and are careful not to give unsolicited advice or critiques."

All six couples are sharp, highly respected, loved and productive. This is probably why they wrote more on what makes it work than what breaks it down.

Do you have church staff that are married to each other? What are your thoughts? 

Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.

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