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A Large Multisite Church in Phoenix is Hiring a High School Pastor


I’m pleased to announce a new Staff Search. Sun Valley Community Church, the church I have the honor of serving at, is beginning a national search for a High School Pastor to serve on our Gilbert Campus. Sun Valley began as a church plant in 1990 in Chandler, Arizona. Over the years Sun Valley has grown into a large mult-site church in the Phoenix metro area. Currently there are three campuses located in Gilbert, Tempe and Casa Grande with a total weekend attendance of over 5,000 people. Sun Valley was recently named by Outreach Magazine as one of the top 10 fastest growing churches in America. The Gilbert Campus is the original and largest campus with well over 3,500 in weekly average attendance. Sun Valley was recently featured in a new book by Leadership Network about church mergers: Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work. To learn more about that story click here Part-1 and Part-2.

Interested in learning more? Continue reading below:

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Posted in Staffing


Does your Team need to Change?


Churches get stuck for all kinds of reasons. But a common reason Churches get stuck is that the Sr. Leadership Team gets stuck. Last week I had the opportunity to sit in the room with Sr. Leaders from some of the nations leading mega-churches and talk through this issue. Here are a couple of the thoughts I captured about Sr. Leadership Teams from that conversation.

1. If the team begins doing the wrong work it may be time to change the team

The purpose of the Sr. Leadership Team is to make directional decisions that build a strong unified culture around your values and move the organization closer to vision. When decision making and implementation begin to consistently slow down it is probably means a change on the team is in the future.

2. If someone is building their own kingdom, get them off the team

When someone on the team cares more about their own personal mission, personal posturing or positioning, or a sub ministry in the church; it’s time for them to leave the Sr. Leadership Team. People who serve on your Leadership Team need to be able to think conceptually and transfer principles across disciplines quickly and they must care more about the mission of the church than their particular ministry

3. When you make changes you’re going to hurt feelings

As the church grows and changes so will your Sr. Leadership Team. Different leaders have different capacities. This isn’t a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a simple reality that we all have a part to play in the body. When a body is smaller someone may play a larger or more public role than they do when it is larger. But be prepared, not everyone will approach these conversations with sober mindedness and a healthy sense of self awareness.

4. Are there too many people in the room?

Span of care is a major issue on any team, but particularly on a Sr. Leadership Team, because so much is at stake. Because a Sr. Leadership Team is not about ministry representation but decision-making and culture formation as the church grows you will consistently be tweaking the team to both have the right people and the right amount of people on the team. Think of it as breathing, the team will contract and expand as layers are added and growth take place.

Want to learn more about Sr. Leadership Teams? Check out my interview with Tony Morgan about his most recent book “Take the Lid Off Your Church, 6 Steps to Building a Healthy Sr. Leadership Team.”

Posted in Leadership, Staffing


Top Posts of 2012 #3: What Your Pastor Isn’t Telling You


This post checks in at #3 this year. I say ‘this year’ because I originally wrote this post back in 2011 and it has been in the top five read posts for the past 2 years. Apparently is struck a nerve.



Most Lead Pastors come off as having it all under control. Never let ‘em see you sweat right? Nothing could be further from the truth. More often than not it’s more like the proverbial duck that on top of the water looks calm, cool, and collected; all the while under the water his little feet are frantically paddling for dear life. If you’ve never been a Lead Pastor before let me take a moment to help you understand what it’s like to live in their shoes and what often times is going on in their heart. My hope is that you’ll remember these truths the next time you get frustrated and are tempted to become critical of your Lead Pastor. And instead of pouring salt in a wound you’ll be the kind of Staff Member or Church Member who holds your Lead Pastor’s arms up and lightens their load.

1. Your Pastor Feels Overwhelmed by Criticism

People complain about the volume of the music, what I’m wearing, the temperature of the room, that you didn’t visit them in the hospital, that you don’t read from the right version of the Bible, that you’re not deep enough (although they don’t even know the names of their neighbors), that you’re too deep, that I’m in the green room instead of the lobby, that while I’m in the lobby I didn’t say hi to them, that I didn’t remember their name even though I’ve only met them once never hung out with them and have 3,000 other names to know. People complain about other areas of ministry in the Church to them, and even if they handle this well and direct them to see the appropriate Staff Member, it creates a burden for them to carry. I’ve even heard friends of mine who are Pastors talk about having to have security guards follow them around for periods of time due to threats to them and their families. Or I love it when people say now Pastor this isn’t personal BUT…we think if you just did…fill in the blank (it’s not personal but?!!?!?!?). Okay, that might have been a bit of a rant.

2. Your Pastor Feels Pressure from Everywhere

Everybody seems to have expectations for Pastors to live up to and amazingly somehow know God’s will for their Pastor’s life and the Church they’re leading. The Church Body has theirs; the Staff has theirs, the Elders, Deacons or whatever the governance structure is or who the decision makers happen to be have theirs. It comes from all sides. As a result many Pastors I talk to feel as though they’re not only fighting the Enemy, but their fighting the Family as well.

3. Your Pastor Frequently Feels like Quitting

Take a moment to do a quick internet search on “pastor burnout” and the results might shock you. You’ll find pages and pages of articles, statistics, and stories of literally hundreds of men leaving the ministry every single day. Just take a quick look below:

  • posted an article listing 15 “Stressful Jobs That Pay Badly.” Included in this list are #5 “Music Ministry Director” and #10 “Minister.”
  • Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches.
  • Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
  • Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

I’ve had conversations with Pastors from small churches, mega-churches, multi-site churches, church plants, established churches, contemporary churches, and traditional churches. Somewhere along the road they feel like giving up, some of them have thought about it so much that they even have a fallback plan. Over and over again I’ve heard the statement, “There isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t think about resigning.”

4. Your Pastor is often Confused about the Next Steps the Church should take

Your Church may have a clearly articulated Mission Statement, Values that are actionable, and a clear path and strategy to move people towards maturity but many Pastors still struggle with what next steps the Church should take. I’ve heard Pastor’s say:

“When my office door is closed and no one’s around I often feel confused about what’s next.”

“If God doesn’t show up we’re in trouble because I don’t know what to do next.”

“Here I am at the point of this thing and all of these people are looking to me for where we’re going and there are real moments when I feel like I have no clue where we’re going.”

Posted in Leadership, Staffing


How much should we Pay our Pastor?


How much should we pay our Pastor? It’s a question that gets sent my way quite frequently. Unfortunately the question beneath the question is usually, “How little can we pay our staff to get them and keep them?” You’ve probably heard the old adage “Let the church keep the Pastor poor and God keep him humble.” There seems to be some general fear that if a pastor makes a good or comfortable livelihood that they will somehow be worse at their job. In taking a quick look at national numbers though you’ll see that few pastors are actually paid an unreasonably high salary. But what is reasonable?

When coming up with a salary for your pastoral staff, make sure you consider the size and location of the Church as well as the education and experience of the Staff Member. Other factors that come into play are longevity in the role and overall value to the Church. An overlooked concept that should factor into the salary is the “replacement cost.” If that staff member left, what would it cost to replace them? Another way to think about this is by considering the mean income of the congregants in your church or the mean income level of the board of the church. It would also be worth considering what the income level is like at a similar organization (size, operating budget, number of staff, assets, impact, non-profit) that offers similar services or is under similar circumstances.

Here are three resources that may help along the way:

1. Leadership Network: Large Church Salary Report

2. National Association of Church Business Administration: Ministry Pay Church Salary Survey

3. LifeWay: Southern Baptist Convention Compensation Study

Interested in a customized report for your church? The Vanderbloemen Search Group and Leadership Network would be happy to help you with that project.

Posted in Staffing


You Just Made a Great Hire…Now What?


So you’ve just made what you believe is a great hire. The new Staff Member is talented, experienced, and they fit the culture of your church. They’re really going to help you get where you believe God wants you to go. They’re hired! What’s next?

Churches are notorious for racing to the finish line of a hiring process, getting the newly hired candidate in the room and breathing a collective sigh of relief. The typical church basically says, “Congratulations, you’re hired! Here are your keys. Now go figure it out.” Once the new hire is made you’re not done. If you don’t intentionally think through the first days of their employment it can leave a sour taste for the remainder of their employment relationship with you. While they may love working at your church in 5 years, they’ll always remember their first impression as being negative. Below are 5 steps you can take to set your new hire up for success!

1. The First Day in the Office

The dating is over. Now you’re married. But just like marriages fall apart due to a lack of dating, employment relationships go south when employers stop pursuing their employees. Intentionally think through what you want their first experience and day in the office to be like. There is definitely standard first day orientation stuff like keys, security codes, computer, introductions, etc. A welcome basket, lunch with the team, Starbucks, and a personal card are all simple things that anyone can do. What can you do to make it positive and memorable? If you don’t plan for it to go well, then it won’t. You want them going home saying, “This is going to be a great place to work. I’m so glad I took this job!”

2. Public Communication Plan

How are you going to communicate the hire, when are you going to communicate it, and whom are you going to communicate it to? Does your church announce each new hire from the stage? Is it a simple verbal announcement, a printed piece, does it go on the website or social media, do you do a video? If you’re trying to figure out how to communicate the hire, a general rule of thumb to go by is, “The more public the role, the more public the communication.”

3. Manage Expectations

There are always expectations associated with a new hire; in a Church setting some of those expectations are realistic, many are not. Unfortunately most are unspoken, and usually have to do with growth and an extraordinary move of God. Having a clear conversation about realistic expectations over the first 90 days and the first year is critical for long-term success. By the way getting their family settled and acculturated to the church and the community should be at the top of the list if you want them on the team for the long run.

4. Opportunities for Wins

Identifying opportunities for wins is essential during the first 12 months of employment. Although your new staff member is incredible (that’s why you hired them), they don’t know what you know about your people and your context. So while they have “fresh eyes” that you need to leverage you also have knowledge that you need to use to set them up for success. To have your new team member experiencing wins in their first 12 months puts credit in their pocket and makes you look like you made a great hire. Which you did!

5. Build Leadership and Relational Equity

For the typical new church staff member there are 3 circles of influence that they need to build leadership and relational equity with. The church staff, their volunteer team, and the audience their particular ministry affects. Your job is to help them by putting them in the right situation with the right people to set them up for long-term success.

I’d love to hear about some other things you’ve done or have seen employers do to set new hires up for success over the first 90 days and first 12 months! Leave a comment!

Posted in Staffing
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