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Staff Health

How to Avoid Disaster in Your Next Hire

Pump the brakes before hiring ... have you taken the time to thoroughly assess theological alignment?


Theology Misalignment?


You just found what seems like the perfect staff candidate. 


Great personality. 


Impressive experience. 


Natural chemistry with your team. 


You're ready to get the hiring process started.


But pump the brakes - have you taken the time to thoroughly assess theological alignment? 


Chemistry, skills, and personality fit won't prevent a ticking time bomb if your foundational beliefs don't align. Without theological fit, the cracks will show. And once your new hire starts contradicting core beliefs in their teaching or preaching, it’s only downhill from there. 


Don’t learn this lesson the hard way. To build a thriving, unified ministry, theological alignment should be your top priority.


Why Theological Alignment Matters


Theological beliefs form the foundation for how someone views ministry, preaches, teaches, counsels, and leads in a church role. Hiring someone who seems aligned in every other area but is misaligned theologically is like building a house on a cracked foundation. No matter how solid the rest of the structure seems, underlying cracks will eventually lead to collapse.


That's why at Chemistry Staffing, we assess theological fit for every candidate upfront through a 25-question theological assessment even before the first interview. This screens for any potential red flags or areas where further discussion is needed to avoid wasted interviews of poor theological fits.  


Close-Fisted vs. Open-Handed Issues


In assessing theological fit, it's important to identify your church's close-fisted versus open-handed theological issues. Close-fisted issues are theological non-negotiables for your ministry. Misalignment on these issues should disqualify a candidate from consideration. In fact, even one disagreement on a core, close-fisted issue should cause you to move on to other candidates.


Open-handed issues are secondary theological matters where there is room for discussion and different perspectives. The goal is to explore these issues enough to ensure there are no friction points that could bother the relationship long-term.


For example, your church team may identify the Trinity, salvation by grace, authority of Scripture and the resurrection of Jesus as close-fisted issues. Continuation of the gifts, end times views and baptism methods may be open for discussion. (NOTE:  These issues are different for every church).


How Long Till The Cracks Show? 


It's common to see theological misalignment begin to show its ugly head around 12-18 months after a new staff member is hired. In the "honeymoon phase", the first year, differences can be glossed over. But eventually, the foundation cracks widen until the relationship crumbles.


This is why chemistry alone can't override a lack of theological fit. You may connect wonderfully in every other way with a candidate. But if your foundational theological beliefs don't align, the relationship will deteriorate no matter the initial chemistry.


Questions to Ask


Here are some key questions we recommend asking during the interview process to assess theological fit:


  • What do you see are essential theological non-negotiables in ministry? 
  • What are some secondary theological issues you are comfortable agreeing to disagree on?
  • How do you determine which theological issues are close-fisted versus open-handed?
  • How do you approach preaching and teaching on theological issues our church views as essential?
  • How have you handled disagreements on important theological issues in the past?


Watch for these potential red flags that may indicate theological misalignment:


  • Overemphasis on a particular theological issue or hobby horse
  • Dismissiveness toward certain theological perspectives 
  • Unwillingness to take a stand on key theological issues
  • Focus on theological differences versus commonalities  


Taking the time upfront to thoroughly assess theological alignment will prevent massive problems down the road, should major foundational cracks emerge. For a strong, thriving ministry, a theological fit is essential.


Next Steps


Finding strong theological alignment is crucial, but it can be tricky to assess on your own. At Chemistry Staffing, we specialize in digging into a church's unique theological open and closed-fist issues. We start by getting to know your church’s theological DNA. Then, we leverage our expertise to ask candidates the right questions and sniff out any potential theological misalignment.


Don't go it alone - let an expert guide you. Partnering with Chemistry can help minimize the risk of a bad theological fit. We do theological screening all day long exclusively for churches because we know it's vital to get it right. You don't have to figure this out by yourself.


Let's start a conversation. Schedule a free 30-minute video call with one of our experienced church coaches. Ask us anything. We'd love to help however we can. Getting your next hire's theology right is too important not to get guidance. We're here to help.


Schedule your free call today!  


We’re here for you!




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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