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05. 28. 2023

Staff Search| Staff Transitioning| Staff Hiring

Have an Opening on Your Staff? Whatever You Do... DON'T do THIS.

| 2 min read

Written by Matt Steen
Feb 5, 2019 7:00:00 AM

The biggest mistake that churches make when hiring...

Way back when, I spent eight years serving as a youth pastor. During that time I found myself becoming way too knowledgeable about the love lives of my students, and the drama that went with it. There were times where it felt like I couldn’t go ten minutes without hearing the story of a fresh breakup and how someone’s life was ruined. The conversation typically followed a similar pattern, where they told me how terrible things were and I let them know that the pain would go away eventually. I let them know that we all have gone through this at some point and that it gets better. I also would encourage them to take some time to mourn and heal before jumping into another relationship.

In our time working with churches, helping them find great staff members, we’ve heard all sorts of stories about hires gone wrong. We’ve heard stories of deception, misunderstanding, and a lack of understanding of what the position was. As we have heard these stories and helped the church lean into its next season of ministry, we’ve seen a recurring theme surrounding why a staff member doesn’t work out. In our experience, the biggest mistake that a church can make when hiring is hiring too soon.

Just like the students in my youth ministry, churches are tempted to jump back out into the mix and fill a gap on their staff before they have had the time to mourn, heal, and think through what they truly need in their next team member. We’ve found that the healthiest churches will take the time that they need to understand why a staff member left, or why they needed to be let go. They need the time to conduct exit interviews, do a full assessment of the ministry (here’s a helpful tool to start that process), to determine what the goals for the new teammate will be, and to develop an accurate profile of the church so that candidates are clear about what they are getting themselves into.

When a staff member decides to leave, here is what we suggest you do:

  • Stop and Breathe. Realize that God is still on his throne and is not surprised by this. Know that God is still for you and is guiding you through this season.

  • Schedule an exit interview. These are great tools to help understand what is going on at your church, and begin to plan for the future. True, they can be awkward, but they are incredibly helpful for moving into your next ministry season in a healthy way. This is also something that we do for churches all the time. Click here to learn more about Chemistry Staffing's Exit Interviews.

  • Develop a ministry sustainability plan. Plan on the position being vacant for 6-8 months and develop a plan that will allow the ministry to survive that season. Who will be overseeing the day to day operations of the ministry? What defines ministry success now that there is not a full-time leader of this ministry? What components of the ministry will be maintained and what will be cut for the season ahead?

  • Develop a church and candidate profile. Once the ministry is sustainable and you have taken the time to conduct an exit interview, take the time to develop a clear understanding of who your church is, what it currently needs, and where it is going. With this in mind, begin to develop a profile of who will be the best fit. It is surprising how often this profile differs from a position’s job description.

Often, our first instinct is to post a job opening on churchstaffing.com in order to fill a gap and move on. This is understandable, but also significantly decreases the chances of making a healthy, long-term hire. I’d love to help you think through what this looks like in your church. Click here to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.




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