They are known by a variety of names: secretary, administrative assistant, receptionist, office manager. In many ways, they occupy a church's most strategic position—the first voice to answer the phone, the first smile to welcome a weekday guest. They create the first impression, and they are the glue that keeps a bustling staff connected and on task.

Yet churches and parachurch ministries are full of hard-working assistants who are often taken for granted or not used effectively.

Earlier this year, Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago hosted a special workshop for ministry assistants. Following the event, LEADERSHIP associate editor Edward Gilbreath spoke to the workshop leaders about how pastors and their assistants can maximize their ministry.

Jean Blount has been executive assistant to Willow Creek senior pastor Bill Hybels for nine years.

Cathy Burnett is entering her fourth year as executive assistant to Jim Mellado, president of the Willow Creek Association ...

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