Brent, you have gathered a couple of modern missions job descriptions, and you’d like me to comment on how they compare to the Department of Labor suggestions. So here we go.
First, the Department of Labor job description list again:
- What is the purpose of the job?
- What are the job’s essential functions?
- What time and physical activities do those functions require?
- Where does the job take place and under what conditions?
- How will the work environment be organized?
- What training and qualifications does the job require?
- What accommodations could reasonably be made?
Job Description #1
Job Title: [Administrative Assistant]
Reports to: [Field Director]
Based at: [Field Location]
Job Purpose: [To assist the field director with administrative needs. To care for the hospitality of work teams that travel to (name of field). To assist the national church as requested.]
Duties and Responsibilities:
1. Offer assistance to the field director and the mission team with administrative needs, i.e., database, filing, printing, etc.
2. Organize the hospitality (meals and housing) for work teams.
3. Assist the national church as requested, i.e., teaching English, assisting in the coffee shop ministry, etc.
4. This description does pretty well with the purpose and essential functions of the job. While this is a generic description, so it’s not fully fleshed out, it seems that the template doesn’t encourage much of a description about time, place, physical activities, and conditions of work. It also doesn’t discuss training and qualifications, or possible accommodations. So it’s probably useful as a job-posting tool, but not too useful for helping clarify to an employee what the real conditions will be, or in establishing what the essential functions of the job are if an accommodation is needed.
Job Description #2
Another mission website you sent had an attractive series of job posts. These descriptions made the jobs sound quite interesting, and described the basic qualifications for the job. But they did not really describe the job’s essential functions, the physical activities, the work environment, or possible accommodations. They were a good initial recruiting tool, but would not be very useful for imposing any limitations on who could be hired.
Job Description #3
You sent me another one that was very long and detailed. It appears to have had a lawyer, a theologian, or possibly both, involved (yes, I remember that mine was long and detailed too, but possibly more entertaining). Job Description #2 was a lot more appealing from a recruiting standpoint.
The strength of this job description was that it makes clear the religious standards of the organization, which is very important in defending religious liberties, and also some of the physical standards that are essential to the job.
This particular job description fulfilled all the requirements of the DOL list in great detail. In fact, it was so detailed that I am surprised they are able to hire anyone, because probably only Jesus would meet all the qualifications, assuming that his English is good enough. That brings up a point of caution. If the job description sounds like it is intended to be so restrictive that you can screen out people you don’t want, it could give rise to discrimination charges (if you don’t want them because of discriminatory reasons).
What do we conclude? Although job descriptions are important, they are hard to write. The DOL factors should help you, and it is a good challenge to think through what you expect of your missionaries in different positions.
Disclaimer: not official legal or psychological advice or opinion