A church secretary usually handles all administrative matters for a church, from answering phones to designing bulletins, making copies, and managing correspondence. The job is often much more than just juggling paperwork and ringing phones, however. Most secretaries must also act as a face for the entire organization. Basic knowledge about the church, its structure, and its beliefs is often essential, as the secretary may be called upon to answer broad questions from a wide range of people.
The specifics of what a church secretary does necessarily depend on the specifics of the organization at issue. Most of the time, though, administrative duties make up the bulk of the job. The secretary usually manages the church's front office. This involves maintaining the master calendar, scheduling appointments, and knowing how to reach all staff. He or she must be well-versed in the church’s programming and must know how to direct specific questions from the public.
To a certain extent, a church secretary must be a general church resource, both to congregants and to the outside world. On the inside, he or she is responsible for connecting church members with pastors, managing sign-ups for classes and events, and publishing and distributing announcements. This often includes managing e-mail databases as well as printed fliers and bulletins.
Secretaries must also represent the church and its programming to the outside world. Newcomers with questions about services or events usually reach the church secretary as a first point of reference when calling. The secretary must be able to courteously and honestly answer questions about the church and its policies. Scheduling pastoral counseling, providing facts about wedding and funeral planning, and answering questions about the church’s basic beliefs all come within the church secretary’s job description.
In some churches, particularly those that are very large, a church secretary may be assigned to an individual pastor or priest. This kind of church secretary is in many ways like a personal assistant. He or she will manage the pastor’s personal schedule and will receive and send out correspondence in the pastor’s name. The secretary will interact with other members of the church staff and will occasionally take on more general tasks, like helping to prepare weekly newsletters, but spends the majority of each day in the service of but one individual. Churches with this structure usually employ multiple secretaries: often one for each member of the senior leadership, and one or more to sit at the front desk and handle more general inquiries.
All secretaries must usually work together to maintain consistency, both in outreach and in task management. This applies as much to big churches with multiple secretaries as it does to small churches with various part-time administrative assistants working together to cover the job. The church office is an integral part of most church organizations, and the secretaries’ primary role is to ensure that that office is efficient, effective, and helpful.