Churches Talk Openly About Bad Hiring Decisions: Five Reasons You Might Not Be Hired
I recently had the opportunity to correspond with a group of pastors and church leaders about their past hiring decisions. Almost every church represented admitted to making at least one ‘bad hire’ in the past. As we discussed the reasons for these employees not working out long-term, there were a number of reasons that came up repeatedly. As a service to prospective employees who are currently looking for a new church position, take a look at this list of important things learned by these churches. Based on the correspondence and input from this group of church leaders, here are the top reasons that you might be disqualified as their next hire for their staff.
You Don’t Fit Our Church’s Culture and Chemistry
The first reason a church may not hire you is because you don’t fit their personality and model of ministry. After hiring a person who clashed with their DNA, and openly bucked their established ministry style, many of the church leaders put this as the #1 priority: “You must have a ministry philosophy that fits our own.” Past experience tells them this is a must. For the job applicant, this means that you must also do some homework. Find churches to interview at that you feel you would be a good fit at personally.
You’re My Friend
I was surprised to learn that the second type of hiring that church leaders identified as going sour quickly was the hiring of a friend. The change from a friendship to an employer/employee relationship is not an easy transition. More times than not, according to these church leaders, it is a transition that just does not happen. The result is a strained or broken friendship; so much so that most everyone we talked to who said they hired a friend also said that they would not do so again in the future. If you’re a prospective employee and a friend wants to hire you, you’ll need to factor this into your decision. Is your friendship worth the cost you’ll pay if the job doesn’t actually work out.
You’re a Friend of My Friend
Another thing that lead to a bad hire at multiple churches is taking the recommendation of a friend over the references and background checks of the actual job applicant. This problem recently happened at a large church in the south: They hired a new pastor because another pastor they respected recommended him. Months later they found that their new pastor had faked his educational credentials on his resume. (This is something that could have easily been discovered with a reasonable check of his references). These churches now will do deep investigation, even when a mutual friend thinks you’re a great fit for their church.
We’re Desperate (and You’re Available)
It’s a trap that many churches fall into. We’ve got a position; and you’re looking for a job… churches that hired a person because they felt pressured to hire somebody. Believe it or not, many churches admitted to hiring prematurely, only because they had an opening and because someone was available. The feedback we received is that these types of hires very rarely work out. Lesson to churches: Never, ever, hire out of desperation.
You Don’t Have the Support of Our Whole Team
Finally, churches who have made bad hires say that they’ve made the mistake of hiring individuals even when all of their current leadership team didn’t agree that the person was a good match. These churches have discovered that key leadership hires must have the wholehearted, enthusiastic support of everyone on the leadership team if they are to truly succeed in their new leadership role.
This list of ‘lessons learned’ should serve as a wake up call to both churches who are hiring new employees and church staff members when they search for a new position. Learn from other’s mistakes. Avoid these areas and the chances of a long-term successful career at your next church will be greatly improved.