Featured Leadership

Hiring the Right Staff 

The only time Jesus is recorded to have prayed all night is the night before he called his disciples.

I’ve not done many things right in the last 12 years of ministry but I can say with utmost certainty that God has allowed me to hire the right people!  My teammates are not simply hired hands who follow dictates but genuine leaders who walk with God and have real responsibility within our ministries.  Heather is known as a gifted teacher; Fred and Kelly are trustworthy and capable administrators; Jason & Kimberly are hard-working producers who knows how to execute; Steve and Becky are creative with extremely diverse skills; Zeb & Leah are true learners with insatiable appetites for ministry.  Akeem, Mikel, and Brad are interns who add more to the church than they take.  And those closest to our ministry would tell you that the church wouldn’t survive another month without the organizational genius of Cindy, Melanie, and Anna.

So, I cannot feign modesty when speaking of our staff.  Neither can I take credit for a team that God has brought together.  However, I can share with you a few lessons I’ve learned along the way in regards to hiring the best of the best.

The Three C’s

You’ve heard it before but it’s absolutely worth repeating, when hiring look for Character, Competency, and Chemistry.  Character can be determined through an extensive interview process and a willingness to call references and former employers.  Competency can be determined through past accomplishments, the “In-Box” exercise, and during the 180-day probation period.  Chemistry can be determined by spending time the potential hire as well as having your team spend time with the candidate.  Typically a candidate will meet with Heather and I but then go on to meet with each of the other staff couples individually.  If there is not consensus on chemistry then we begin to look elsewhere.

Lead in Your Strengths & Staff in Your Weaknesses

It’s important for you to know your gifts, talents, abilities, and weaknesses.  Don’t do the HUGE mistake of simply hiring someone that is just like you.  You already have a YOU.  If you lack in administrative and fiscal abilities as I do – hire an Administrative Pastor.  If you lack in musical and organizational abilities – hire a Program Pastor.  If you lack in creativity and design – hire a Creative Arts Pastor.  The point is, look at your current ministry and assess the greatest need that you are unable to accomplish at a high level of performance and find that person to fill that position.

Internal Hire Vs. External Hire

Internal Hire:  There are several benefits to hiring someone from within your current congregation.  They are not taken back by the quirks of the church, won’t question the direction of the church, and understand the mission, process, and vision of the church.  They don’t need to be vetted as much because you know the actual person.  Yet there are some major cons associated with hiring from within.  Most of the time they are in need of further theology and ministry training, are likely to be surprised at the intense work schedule of church ministry, and will be less flexible when changes are made to existing practices.  Also, they won’t question the direction of the church and therefore add to the problem of group-think.  Lastly, when it becomes necessary, it’s much more difficult to remove this person from staff without causing major church conflict.

External Hire:  Fresh blood brings fresh insight.  Along with all that has been said above, it is extremely helpful to hire someone who has been professionally trained, with ministry experience, who can bring fresh ideas and fresh life into your ministry team.  There are pros and cons to each kind of hire but if you choose to hire from without then you will need an extensive interview process.

Extensive Interview Process

Do not just trust your gut.  Be intentional and professional when interviewing a potential team member.  The person you end up choosing will either be one of the greatest blessings you’ve ever received from Heaven or one of the greatest problems you’ve ever received from a-hem.  Spend time in prayer and spend time with them in a professional interview process.

Obsess over value alignment.  This point cannot be overstated.  When someone comes to work with you, you want him to work with you.  Do they understand what your organization truly values?  Do you understand what they really want out of this job?  We have a 3-4 day interview process that we have used many times.  If you are interested in acquiring our process for hiring, feel free to email fred@southernhills.church.

Is your church looking to add staff?  What position do you believe to be the 1st hire after the Sr. Pastor?  Share your comments below:

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