Let's come right out and say it. Hardly anyone likes search committees.
Pastors often complain about their search committees. They're too big. They have the wrong people. They're too controlling (or they don't care enough). They can't agree. They move too slowly. They're hard to schedule around.
Candidates don't like search committees either. They're hard to read. They don't communicate. They change their mind. They take forever to decide. The list goes on.
Heck. Even search committee members don't enjoy the experience. Excessive meetings. Time away from home and family. Dealing with that one obstinate person on the committee. The stress of deciding who to hire.
We've heard it all.
In many churches, search committees play an important role. Love them or hate them, a team of people is always a good idea (whether you call it a search committee or not).
We've worked with a good number of search committees over the years. Here's what we've learned:
1. Search committees HAVE to have a structure. Every church is different. Search committees range from two to twenty-two members. Sometimes they like each other. Other times they don't even know each other before being put on the committee. Some have full authority. Some just vet candidates and refer on to a governing board or congregational vote. But every search committee has to have a structure as to how to conduct it's task, how to deal with disagreements or splits, and how to determine ultimate success.
2. Search committees HAVE to have a leader. Someone has to be in charge. Sometimes it's an elected chairman. Sometimes it's the pastor. But someone has to be in charge. This person must call the meetings, run the meetings, and keep things on track. Too many search committees have no pre-determined leader, and it usually ends in a mess.
3. Search committees HAVE to have a plan. What position are you hiring? Is that really the position the church needs or are you just replacing a predecessor? How much can the church afford to pay? What is the urgency? What happens in the interim? The answers to these questions are all a part of the plan. And if you don't have a plan, the chances of a good outcome diminish significantly.
4. Search committees HAVE to have a timetable. How soon do you need to hire this person? What steps do you need to map out on a calendar? How long do you expect it will take before you can hire someone? All of these questions need to be asked before you start your search. Finding a great new staff member takes much longer than most search committees hope for or realize. You need to be prepared.
5. Search committees HAVE to have a job description. Most search committees do have some type of job description written up for the position they are hoping to hire for. Unfortunately, many times the job description is three years old (or older) and a carbon copy of the job description they used the last time they hired for that particular position. Part of the job of the search committee is to determine the needs of the church for the new position and put it on paper for themselves and the new candidate. This can be hard work, but it must be done.
6. Search committees HAVE to be united. What if you get down to a final candidate and the vote is five to four? What do you do? It's always best to have a plan before you get to that point. What is needed for approval? 100%? 75%? Search committees many times are split, even on great candidates. You must decide before you get in that position what you will do. Otherwise, you'll have a mess on your hands.
7. Search committees HAVE to protect the church. Search committees are ultimately responsible to protect the church. That means full background checks. That means contacting multiple layers of references. You need to do due diligence beforeyou hire. Anything less is negligence.
8. Search committees HAVE to protect the candidate. Many search committees don't think about this aspect, but if you really care about your church and the person you are about to hire, you have to look at your job proposal through their eyes. Are you bringing the candidate (and his/her family) into a healthy situation? Are you paying enough? Are you setting them up for success? Are you hiding key elements of your church or the position that they should know about? We hear about bait and switch regularly from candidates. Know this: Hiding things never ends well. You'll end up with a short-term staff member, and the costs of your search, downtime, and replacement costs prove unbelievably expensive, both from a monetary and a missional point of view. Part of your responsibility as a search committee is to protect and care for your future employee.
At Chemistry Staffing, we know that search committees are often tough rides, even in the best of situations. Here's how we can come alongside your search committee (or leadership team):
- We first find out as much about you and your church (and committee) as we can. To be honest, churches HATE this process. We ask everything... from job description and salary, to your overall budget, debt, questions about your facilities and philosophy of ministry and more. We find out your biggest challenges and opportunities. The more we know about you and your church, the better candidates we can find for you.
- We then draft a 10-12 page Church and Candidate Profile that gets everyone on the same page. We also are able to show this document to potential candidates so they know as much about you as possible.
- Once there is agreement on the plan, we start working our sources and network to find you great candidates that you probably wouldn't have had access to on your own. We immediately tap into our personal network; our growing database of over 3,000 church leader assessments; the thousands on our church leader email list; church, denominational, seminary, and online job sites, social media, LinkedIn, and personal outreach to like-minded churches in your current vicinity.
- Each and every candidate that applies for your position takes our initial 100 point assessment. We assess them on their theological beliefs, philosophy of ministry/church DNA, personality, and skills and abilities. And we match them up with the same assessment questions that you've answered. This brings the top candidates to the top of the list.
- After we identify qualified candidates for your specific church and openings, we conduct initial video interviews with candidates to further refine our search. In the end, we bring your 2-3 candidates that we think are great possibilities to fill our search. We give you our full advice and assessment on each one including their strengths and weaknesses as we see them in your setting.
We'll make sure you're on the same page before the search starts.
Then we connect the search for you, bringing you 2-3 candidates, usually in 4-6 weeks. While we're doing the tough work of filtering resume and interviewing candidates, your search committee can concentrate on praying for and preparing for their next staff member.
Since our searching is done entirely virtually, the cost of doing a search with Chemistry Staffing is much lower than you'd expect. We don't charge by percentage of the first-year salary. In fact, our flat-rate pricing works for churches of all sizes... even very small churches.
If you'd like to see how we can take much of the pain and frustration out of your church staff search, please let us know. We'd love to hop on a thirty-minute online video call with you to hear your story, what you're looking for, and to see if we might be able to help.
We want the best for your church AND your future staff member.