Great teams don’t happen on accident. Over the past 15+ years of working with churches the best hires I’ve seen have always come through a well thought out staffing strategy. Based on that experience the following are 6 principles that I help churches think through when it comes to building a staffing strategy.
#1 Think strategy before structure
Before you start hiring people first think about what you’re trying to accomplish. How are you moving people from “here” to “there”? What is your strategy to accomplish your mission? 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.
#2 Hire people to lead ministry not do ministry
The temptation is always going to be to hire the talented person out there who is getting it done, who’s a people magnet, got the look, the presence, you know the person I’m talking about. If you only had that person you’d take ground right? But what you really need is the person who is capable of building teams that get it done. You’ll never have enough money to hire enough people to do all the ministry you want to do. And you don’t need to. Because doing ministry is not your job, leading it is. That’s why Paul writes in Ephesians 4 “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” The church cannot be the movement it was designed to be if it hinges on a bunch of professional Christians doing the work of the ministry. But that’s another conversation for another blog post.
#3 Hire from inside when you can
When you can, hire from within. They’re more likely to embrace your vision, values, and strategy. You’ll probably have a better sense of how they’d fit on your team. They’ve probably been volunteering at a high level so you know far more about them than you would any outside candidate because you’ve simply had the opportunity to see them up close over an extended period of time. Forbes identified this in a recent article they posted, “New Research Shows Where Employers Find Their New Hires.” But don’t assume that the inside hire is the right hire. When you like the culture that you have you want to replicate it, so hire from within. But when you need to shift the culture, philosophy, strategy or you don’t have the new skills needed for the role within, then hire from outside. The outside hire will bring an infusion of new ideas and fresh eyes that you’ll benefit greatly from.
#4 Pay attention to industry standards
In building a staffing strategy it’s important to know what “normal” is. Typically churches are staffed at a ration of 1 full-time-equivalent staff member to every 100 regular attenders. Churches typically spend 40%-50% of their budget on Staff. And it usually takes about 3-6 months from the moment you decide to begin a search to the moment that person is on the ground working. This process can actually go a bit longer for a Lead Pastor role. It’s important to keep these simple industry standards in mind as you build your staffing strategy.
#5 Hire people that you like
Somewhere in the hiring process you need to ask yourself, “Do I like this person?” “Do I actually want them on this team?” It may seem shallow, but there are going to be difficult moments that you’re going to have to navigate as you lead your church, and if you don’t like or want the people closest to you on the team, it’s just going to make it that much more difficult to navigate. By the way the contrast is true as well. It’s important to hire people who like you too. Does their heart beat a little faster when you’re talking about the vision, the team, the church, the community, and the opportunity?
You may think this one would be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen the voice of God neglected in the hiring process. Should churches have a clear and strategic hiring process? Absolutely! I firmly believe that the work we’re involved with is so meaningful that it deserves us to do it as well as possible. However, God’s voice should always trump working a strategic hiring plan.
Need help building a hiring process at your church? Let’s talk!
Posted in Staffing