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Staff Search

Church Staff Search Committees - How Big Should They Be?

When you need to hire a new church staff member, one of the first things you'll need to do is determine who should be a part of the hiring process

Search Committee

How Big Should They Be? And Who Should We Ask?


When you need to hire a new church staff member, one of the first things you'll need to do is determine who should be a part of the hiring process. Most churches have some kind of a search team or committee... but how big should your search team be?  And who should you ask to be a part?

In this short video, Chemistry Staffing Co-Founder Matt Steen tackles these two big questions?

  1. How big should your church staff search team be?
  2. Who should be on it?

STEP 1:  Check your church's polity to get your guardrails. What parameters are spelled out for you?  What liberty do you have? Sometimes the size of your church's committee is spelled out in your constitution.  If not, we recommend a smaller rather than larger search team whenever possible.

STEP 2:  Who should be on your search committee?  Are they mature in their faith? Do you trust them?  Will they take this role seriously?  Do they have an agenda? Are they a long-standing member who is respected by other congregants? Do they truly understand 'pastoral' work and roles?


Watch the conversation / Read the transcript


00:00:45  Check Your Church's Polity
00:02:20  Who Should Be On Your Church's Search Committee?
00:07:23  Moving forward with your Church's Search Team


You can also watch more about search committees:


As always, we are here for you, and we're praying for churches and teams all over the United States! If you want to have a conversation about hiring new staff members for your church or setting up your church's search committee, you can schedule a time here. 




Full Transcript

Hey y’all, it’s Matt Steen, Co-Founder of Chemistry Staffing again. We’ve been talking a little bit about searches. Last time, we talked a little bit about some of the areas where churches get themselves in trouble with their search team. This time, I want to talk about two things. It’s how big and who. How big should your search team be. Who should be on that search team. There’s a couple areas where people can really get themselves in trouble. Here is my rule of thumb with search teams when it comes to size. Every church has their own specific polity, their own governance documents, and all that kind of stuff. You need to start by looking there. Some churches in their bylaws, in their constitutions it’s actually specified how big their search team should be. Look there first. If there isn’t any type of expectation there, if there isn’t any type of rule set as far as what that looks like, then what I look to do is get a team that is big enough to do the work but not so big that you’re constantly wrangling cats. What I mean by that is I’ve found that it’s teams of maybe six up to maybe ten are a good size. I personally - the smaller the better because it makes it a whole awful lot easier to manage the relationships, to manage calendars, and all that kind of stuff. Really, the thing here is people that are coming onto this team are being asked to shoulder a pretty significant burden. They’re going to be asked to do a good bit of work. They’re going to be asked to really sacrifice. And to really devote some time to serving with one another. So one of the things that you’ve just kind of got to keep in mind is the more people that you have on this team, the harder it is going to be to manage calendars and get everybody together at the same time. And it will start to slow down your ability to the job. More so for the six than for the ten, but each church is a little bit different, and you’ve got to make a decision based on what makes sense in your church, your church’s history, and your church’s polity and all that.

Who should be on it? I’ve heard churches say, hey, we should have a youth on it. We should have somebody from children’s ministry on it. Maybe a preschooler. We want a young family. We want older people. We want this, we want that, all that kind of stuff. And I get the spirit behind that. I get the spirit behind wanting people of all ages, shapes, sizes, genders, political persuasion, all that kind of stuff. There’s wisdom in having mature faith. Do you trust that they are going to be in deep prayer throughout this process? Do you trust that they have a walk with Jesus that will trump personal desires? Do you trust that this person is listening more to the voice of the Holy Spirit than to the voices of people coming up to them in the lobby saying, “Hey, I’ll be your best friend if you get us a pastor that does blank.” Okay. That’s where we start is maturity of faith. A lot of times this is overlooked, but this is where we need to start. Does this person have mature faith? Is this a person whose faith is recognized not just by those in the church, but also in the outside world. That’s the place to start.

Second place, is this somebody that’s a member in good standing of our church? If somebody has been there for six months, probably a little early for them to be on the search team. But if this is somebody that has been in your church for a little while - 2, 3, 4, 5 years. Is this somebody that the congregation looks at and trusts? Is this somebody that they look at and they just kind of roll their eyes and say, “They’ve got an agenda.” Or is this somebody that they look at and they can trust and they believe has the best interests of the church in mind? So that’s the second thing that we look for. Is this somebody that they can trust?

Third thing. Is this somebody who has a deep understanding as to what the role of a pastor is? Do they understand what we’re asking for church-wise. What the pastor does, the work that’s involved in it. The character that’s required. That’s the third thing that we look for in doing this. The other thing is, is this somebody who has a history of setting aside personal preference for what the Holy Spirit wants to do or for what’s in the best interest of the church or what the church genuinely needs. And what I mean by that is, a lot of times in search committees and where things go sideways is there are people that might have an axe to grind, that might have an agenda issue, that might miss the way that things used to be done, that might want more hymns or more songs from Elevation Worship or songs from whatever. But are they willing to set aside those preferences to do what the church is asking them to do when they come to find their new pastor. That’s pretty tricky, right? A lot of times in our day and age when we’re so divided and we go after these little schism issues, we can say that God wants this, and I’m not so sure that God wants that. What we’re saying is, is this somebody that we trust through prayer, through their regular time in scripture, through the work that the Holy Spirit has done and is doing in their lives and in their heart? Is this somebody that is going to be able to make a decision that is in the best interest of the church, not necessarily a preference for them. That takes a significant amount of maturity, and that’s one of those things that can be a genuine struggle. But those are the types of people that we want on our search team. Now if you are in a church that has a significant number of deeply, deeply mature people and there is a diversity among age and all that kind of stuff, great. But you want to start there with that maturity of faith and that understanding and that willingness to set aside preference for the good of the church.

So just to recap, who we are looking for. We are looking for mature believers in Jesus. People whose judgement that we trust. People whose judgement that we believe is in the best interest of the church and not grinding their own axe. And we want a search team that’s manageable size wise. Six, maybe ten at the most. But we want to make it manageable so that we can have everybody fully participating in the search team as the process goes on. Hope this is helpful. Next time, we’ll talk a little bit about what the expectations and the functions of a search team are and what people need to be clear on as they are getting into it.



Matt Steen

Matt Steen

Matt has served the local church for over two decades as a youth pastor, church planter, and executive pastor. Originally from Baltimore, Matt currently lives in Orlando, with his wife Theresa, and has a B.S. in Youth Ministry from Nyack College and an M.Div. and MBA from Baylor University. Certified as an Urban Church Planter Coach by Redeemer City to City and as a StratOp facilitator by the Paterson Center, Matt has made a career of helping churches thrive through intentionality, clarity, and creating healthy cultures. He is convinced that a healthy church is led by a healthy team with great chemistry, and loves partnering with Chemistry’s churches to do great things for the Kingdom.

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