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5 Common Hiring Mistakes that Churches Make

Recruiting and hiring a new team member can be exciting! Hire the right person and the whole team benefits. When you invite the right person to join your team not only is there an infusion of new talent, but also new ideas, fresh eyes, and a new well of experiences to go to. One new hire can literally improve the performance of the entire team. On the other hand, hire the wrong person and the ministry at your church could be set back for years.

Churches are notorious for making well-intentioned bad hires. At most churches the hiring process usually goes wrong for one of the following 5 reasons.

1. Poor Contact with Candidates

The number one mistake churches make is not staying in constant (weekly) contact with candidates. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the story that a candidate submitted a resume for a job and didn’t hear back from the church for more than a month. Not even a simple, “Thank you, we received your resume.” The candidate moves on, only to be contacted weeks later by the church asking them to move to the next step. Most candidates simply want to know where they stand in the process and what the next step is. When you don’t communicate regularly they perceive that as disinterest and they move on. The best candidates aren’t going to wait around.

2. Convenience Hires

Many times churches hire based on convenience, which leads to hiring too fast. Now they wouldn’t come out and say that, but that’s exactly what it is. Someone knows the “perfect candidate,” vouches for him or her and they’re quickly hired based on a recommendation without being properly vetted. I’ve also seen churches hire repeatedly from within, in fact some even pride themselves on this. Interestingly enough hiring repeatedly from the inside is a symptom of an organization that is stuck or in decline. They hire from the inside because, “You have to be in the organization to understand it,” they’re not open to new ideas or challenging the status quo. Now I’m not against hiring from within. But when hiring from within because we are comfortable with a known internal candidate trumps doing a search and hiring the best candidate, the mission of the church suffers.

3. No Process

Many churches simply don’t have the bandwidth or experience to build an effective recruiting and hiring process. At this point I’d recommend going with a search firm to help you in the process. Unfortunately far too many churches stumble along with no idea how to identify a proper profile and job description of what’s needed in the ideal candidate, no plan to build a candidate pool, no process to vet the candidates in a timely manner, and no clear process as to how to make a decision and offer the job to the winning candidate.

4. Staffing Void of Strategy

Before you start hiring people first think about what you’re trying to accomplish. Do you have a clear strategy in place to accomplish your mission, and are you staffing to that strategy? How are you reaching people outside of the church? How do you help people who are new to your church get connected? What’s your discipleship strategy? How do you help people new to the faith grow up in their relationship with Christ? You want your staffing structure to support your strategy because as the end of the day staffing should get you to your vision. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a staff member get hired and then only stay at a church for less than 2 years because the church hadn’t staffed to their strategy and it ends up being a bad fit.

5. No On-Boarding Process

Technically this happens after the official hire is made, but I just couldn’t leave it out. 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 essentially 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.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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