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How Long Will it Take to Find Our Next Church Staff Member?

How will the trends we are seeing translate into the amount of time that it will take you to hire your next church staff member?


Will it Take Us Longer to Hire a New Church Staff Member During the Great Resignation?


We’ve been talking a lot recently about “The Great Resignation” and what effects churches across the country are seeing as a result of so many ministry staff transitioning out of churches (from one church to another) and out of ministry altogether.


If you’ve been following along with us on our journey for the last few weeks, you know that as we’ve worked with both churches and staff members across the country for the past year, we’ve come to accept that “The Great Resignation” is real. And it is starting to have a tremendous effect on how churches are hiring and will continue to hire for this next season.


Today, we want to talk about how the trends we are seeing will translate into the amount of time that it will take you to hire your next church staff member.  


We’ve created a short video for you that will walk you through hiring timelines and what you really need to know as you hire a new staff member this year.



We get asked this question all the time:  How long will it take, start to finish, to find and hire our next staff member.


There is no set answer to that question.  We’ve seen searches go as quickly as a few weeks to some that have taken over a year for a church to find the right person for a particular role.


But things seem different now.


In our own research, over a third of churches are telling us that they are already seeing signs of increased resignations and departures at their local church. And just under a third of church staff report to us that they have ‘seriously considered’ leaving the ministry post-COVID (with over half of church staff saying that they are considering some type of job transition over the next 12 months.) We went into greater detail in this piece.


With so many people transitioning (and leaving), how will this affect your hiring timeline?  If you’re looking for a new staff member, will it take longer than ‘normal’ to find the right person?


I want to awe you with a totally ‘consultant’ answer.


It might ... and it might not.


I’m sure that’s reassuring.  :)


This is a complex question. It’s a question of supply and demand.  It’s a question of your church’s hiring practices, and it’s a question of the type of position, your church’s location, your compensation package, and much more.


But let’s dive into some insights about what you might find as you start your next staff search, and then circle back around to the amount of time your search might take.



It might take you longer because qualified candidates are harder and harder to find


Because of the diminishing church staff workforce, it may take you longer than normal to find qualified candidates.  There are two main reasons for this:  fewer candidates in the candidate pool, and the increase in open church ministry positions.


If there are a lot of people transitioning currently, there should be many candidates available, right?  Not really.  We’re actually finding a pretty significant decrease in the number of really good candidates that are available during the past few months.  The biggest reason for this is that many are leaving ministry as part of this “Great Resignation”.  The pandemic has claimed its victims. In fact, you probably know someone that was in full-time ministry in March of 2020 that is no longer actively employed on a church staff. If you’ve lost a staff member during the last two years, it’s highly likely that they left to go do something totally different, at least for a season. The end result overall is the trend that we are seeing:  less viable and experienced candidates to choose from.


The second reason is that many churches are now hiring again after two years of a pandemic.  Some are replacement hires (see the previous paragraph), but some are new hires to prepare for the next season of ministry.


So… we get a bit of a perfect storm.  An increase of churches hiring positions results in more church job openings available is combined with a decrease in the number of people that are actually looking to fill those roles.


From this perspective, it may take you longer to spot great candidates.  They are still out there, but they are harder and harder to find. Sometimes you find them right out of the gate, other times, it may take weeks (or months) for you to locate them.



It might take longer because you may have to look in different places and in different ways


We mentioned this in our latest video (The Top Church Staff Tips for 2022): staffing your church in 2022 means that you may need to look differently.  That means you may want to turn your eye to a potential internal candidate, look at a non-conventional staffing solution like a fractional staff member, or hire a local part-time candidate for the role rather than a full-time person.


Hiring internally has a lot of great benefits. First of all, you’ll be bringing someone on staff that loves you and your church, has already bought into the vision, mission, and values, and has probably already proven themself as an incredible and indispensable volunteer.  But they have one big downside:  They’ve never done the work vocationally. They’ve most probably not worked on a church staff before. They’ve not been to seminary. And they may be a little naive and rough around the edges.  If they have great potential, many churches have found that internal candidates can be great additions to your staff IF you are willing to really work with them and show them the ropes. They will want and need to be mentored, and you have to be willing to take on that responsibility. We love it when we see a church give a top-notch volunteer a chance to step up into a full or part-time role.  Many times, they bring a level of passion that can be built upon to help them be a great long-term staff member.  (Plus, they’re local, and can in many cases start nearly right away).


If you have trouble finding great candidates, you may want to look at some additional unconventional ways to bring some expertise to your staff. This may include a fractional staff member (part-time, off-site) to help with some of the organization, management, training, and oversight of a program and to work with your volunteers to move things forward. You’ll be hearing more about ‘fractional’ staffing this year (and if you can’t wait, you can check out a little of what we’re talking about here). Many churches will find that hiring a fractional staff member will bring great expertise and a fraction of the cost in the future.



It might take longer because you may have to say “NO” more


Coming out of the pandemic (at least hopefully!), we’re finding many prospective church staff candidates that we’re talking with over the past few months are worn out or unhealthy. We see this with candidates that are tired from the past season. Some candidates are suffering from real burnout.  Yet others are in a state of anger, confusion, and bitterness.


As you interview candidates, you’ll quickly find as you dig in that many candidates are not in a healthy enough place to join your staff right now.


Be careful not to hire people that are excessively tired, burned out, or angry with their last church. These feelings and attitudes sometimes (honestly… MOST of the time) carry over to their new church.  


Because of this, you may have to tell otherwise qualified candidates “no”, at least for this season. While you might feel the temptation to hire someone now to fill the position, it is always best to wait for a healthy candidate. This decision may seem painful in your current moment of need but in the long term will pay off many times over.



It might take longer because you’ll find more ‘tire-kickers’


We’ve already talked about there being a decreased number of qualified candidates in the candidate pool (Insight #1), but there are also a great number of ‘tire-kickers’ right now.


Tire-kickers are those people that aren’t really sure if they’re interested in working at your church or not.


We’ve always had tire-kickers.  But today they are different.


In the past, a typical tire-kicker was trying to figure out if they wanted to leave their current church for your church. Today, they are trying to figure out if they even want to work at a church. They really have to figure that out before they will seriously consider whether or not they’d like to work at YOUR church.


That’s another part of this “Great Resignation” thing.  For many church staff people (including those that have been a part of a ministry team for years), they are… for the first time… looking at options outside of the church world.


And you may pick this up as you start to interview them.  They are foggy about their future and what they want to do.  As you interview them for your church, they may also be thinking about doing something totally different, like selling real estate, going to work for a non-profit, or starting some kind of new business on their own.


Tire-kickers can be frustrating as you’re trying to hire for your church staff, mostly because they never self-identify.  No one ever says, ‘you know, I’m not all that interested, but I thought I’d take the interview anyway’.  In the end, tire-kickers can waste a lot of your time. If they lead you on, you can lose a lot of valuable time courting a tire-kicker.  If you do, your staff search can definitely take much longer than usual.



It may take longer if you can’t close the deal


Ok… time for some harsh reality.  It used to be that churches had the upper hand when it came to hiring. After all, you’re the one making the offer.


But this is a candidate’s market. Fewer candidates and more openings mean that when you find a great candidate, there is a good chance that they will have other options.


Churches are notoriously slow to hire, even when they think they’ve found the right person.


But in this current environment, you need to be prepared to make an offer quickly or you may lose the candidate to a church that is moving a little more quickly.


Candidates now have choices.


We’ve seen this happen quite often in the past few months. Great candidates many times can have two or three offers that are on the table at the same time. You need to take time, pray through, and have great due diligence, but you have to move at a quicker pace than you’re probably used to. If you don’t, you may find yourself starting your search over.



It might take longer if you’re not willing to pay more.


The salary package isn’t everything, but compensation is also an area that you’ll need to really evaluate in the current hiring market.


Inflation is at a 40-year high. And increased competition (more openings with fewer candidates) is also bringing compensation prices higher. You have to make your offer competitive.


We’ve seen a few church staff searches take much longer than needed because their compensation level was lower than what others were offering.  You have to be able to offer a competitive package during this time. If not, your search may take much longer than you anticipated.


In closing… how long will it take to hire a new church staff member?


Back to my ‘consultant answer: It depends.


On average, we normally tell churches to plan on 6-9 months from the very start of the search (assembling the hiring team, writing the job description, marketing the role, conducting interviews, hiring, and having the person start the role).  It is reasonable to say that, in some cases, this timetable could expand to 9-12 months because of the things we’ve mentioned here today.


Of course, you could find your perfect person on day one.  But never plan for that.  In fact, plan for it taking longer than you think and adjust your expectations accordingly.


But regardless of how long it takes to find your next staff person, everything will be ok. We always tell everyone that God is not at all surprised at your situation. And he knows all the whys, whos, wheres, and whens that we don’t.  Hiring a new staff member requires our reliance on him (along with our hard work). But God is never surprised. And we shouldn’t be either.


And while you are searching, take time to build into and support your volunteers over the area of ministry you’re hiring for. Reassure them that you value them, and that help is on the way.


Trust the process (and if you need a hiring process, we can help). Don’t take shortcuts. Don’t get desperate. Fight the urge to hire when you’re impatient. The pain you are feeling now without the hire will only be multiplied in six months if you make the wrong hire.


We have three resources that we’d love to help you if you’re in the process of a staff search or are getting ready to hire someone in the next few months.


RESOURCE #1: We have created a “Great Resignation” primer that tells you all of the things we are seeing in the church hiring world right now. It’s free and will give you some great insight into what to expect as you hire in 2022. You can download your copy here.


RESOURCE #2: Our top ten church staff tips for 2022. This is a short video that tells you the top then things we think you should know if you’re going to hire new staff in 2022.


RESOURCE #3: Finally, we’d like to offer you an opportunity to pick our brain on what we’re learning about hiring staff. If you’re getting ready to hire a new staff member, let’s chat. You can schedule a free 30-minute call now to tell us what you’re looking for. We’d love to see if we can help in any way.


Have a great week!




Todd Rhoades

Todd Rhoades

Todd has invested over 30 years in serving churches, having served as a worship pastor for over 15 years, a church elder for more than a decade, and in various ministry leadership roles in both the business and non-profit sectors. As the original founder and developer of ChurchStaffing.com, Todd fundamentally changed the way thousands of churches search for pastors and staff on the internet. Todd is a graduate of Cedarville University, and lives in Bryan, OH with his wife, Dawn.

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