From time to time, every church deals with problem employees or difficult situations within the staff. In these moments, you need to have a written plan for how you intend to walk with someone through corrective action. Here is the Discipline Policy that we created for our church:

Note: We do not include our Discipline Policy in our Employee Handbook. Rather, this is an internal policy for the Executive Pastor, Lead Pastor, and Elders.

Discipline Policy

In the event that we have a problem with a staff member, we have a four-step plan to address our concerns. By following this plan, we will handle all discipline issues consistently and professionally. The purpose of this policy is reconciliation and restoration. 

  1. Verbal – The first step in our plan is for the Executive Pastor to verbally address the issue with the staff member. The number of verbal discussions will depend on the situation and the severity of the infraction. If the situation is minor (being late to work, missing deadlines, failure to turn in receipts, etc.), we might choose to provide multiple verbal discussions. However, if the situation is major (compromising staff unity, public insubordination, etc.), we might choose to only provide one verbal discussion. 
  2. Written – If verbal discussions are not successful, the next step in the process is to put the concern in writing. This allows for the issue to be properly documented. In the event that this step needs to be taken, the Executive Pastor will either put the comments in their semi-annual review or will send them an email to address the concerns. 
  3. Meeting with Lead Pastor – If the first two steps are not successful, the Executive Pastor will schedule a disciplinary meeting, and ask the Lead Pastor to attend as well. At this meeting, the Lead Pastor and Executive Pastor will explain to the person that this problem must be resolved for employment to continue. 
  4. Discussions with Elders – If the first three steps are not successful, the final step is to discuss the situation with the Elders and to determine next steps (meetings with Elders, temporary probation, termination, etc.).