Part 6: Seven Reasons and Seven Guidelines

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Brent, this struck me as pretty funny! When I was a missionary, we didn’t have a job description. I don’t think that concept had occurred to anybody (this was a while ago). Why do we even need job descriptions? Here are seven reasons.

Reasons we need job descriptions:

  1. We want to make sure people have the training and qualifications to do that job.
  2. We want to know what requirements of physical or mental health are actually job-related, so we understand what standards are fair to impose and what accommodations can (or cannot) be made.
  3. Someone should be able to tell if she is doing a good job.
  4. A supervisor’s evaluation should be based on objective criteria.
  5. People should know what to expect of others and how their job functions mesh together.
  6. For religious organizations, we want to know if the employee is a minister and falls into the ministerial exception (which means that in the U.S., many of the employment laws will not apply).
  7. We want missionaries to know what steps to take to accomplish a very confusing and challenging job.

The Department of labor has some helpful guidelines on job analysis at It suggests that we consider these seven items in analyzing a job.

  1. What is the purpose of the job?
  2. What are the job’s essential functions?
  3. What time and physical activities do those functions require?
  4. Where does the job take place and under what conditions?
  5. How will the work environment be organized?
  6. What training and qualifications does the job require?
  7. What accommodations could reasonably be made?

These questions are helpful to ask in designing the job description, interview questions for the job, and performance appraisals.

In finishing, I want to recommend a remarkable new resource, Cross-Cultural Church Planting for Probies, by Dr. Roger Dixon and Jan Dixon, M.Psy. This book is a step-by-step guide from preparing for departure through planting a church. It breaks down the process into eight phases and addresses each in detail. I have never seen a resource like this anywhere. It should be helpful both for writing job descriptions for all levels, and for helping missionaries with training and qualifications. The authors (who in the interests of full disclosure are my parents) spent over 30 years church-planting in an unreached people group.


Disclaimer: not official legal or psychological advice or opinion

Because of the generality of the information on this site, it may not apply to a given place, time, or set of facts. It is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations