Sometimes circumstances change in the middle of a church's search process. When does it make sense to press pause on our search and when should we keep going?
Matt and Todd share some thoughts on how to know whether to pause or go.
Matt Steen: We've got a handful of questions here over the last seven days maybe from churches that are in the middle of a hiring process and all of the sudden COVID-19, coronavirus, whatever we're calling it today has flared up and changed the reality of people's ministry. So we have churches that are asking us, what do we do? Do we pause the search, do we cancel the search, do we keep doing it? How do we react and how do we react when we're doing a million other things too because of the way this has changed our ministry so quickly. So Todd, maybe we can take a couple of minutes and talk about why we would pause a search, why we would continue a search. Why don't you dive in and share some reasons why it would be a good idea for a church not to continue a search right now?
Todd Rhoades: Sure. Everything's changed, right? Priorities have changed. And as church leaders it always seems like we have a lot on our plate, but it seems like everything has shifted on our plate here in the last bit of time. So why would you pause a search? I can think of three reasons, Matt. You probably have more, but let me go over the three that kind of hit me as we were talking about doing this video today. The first thing is, if you are unsure how your church is going to do financially in the next season and you're unsure if you're actually going to be able to pay this position and sustain this position for 18 months, that would be one of the criteria that I would use. Honestly that's a criteria we use with churches all of the time, whether we're in this time of crisis or not. But that would be one of the things that I would look at. But just know this, every church right now is nervous and every church is looking at their budget and wondering this is going to look like for their budget and how they're going to come across on the other side of this. This isn't the time to freak out, but it is a time to be prudent and to look and see if you really think that you're in a good, solid financial position and you can sustain this position for 18 months, then I would continue. If you are questioning that, the last thing you want to do is bring someone in and not be able to pay for them and their family in the long-term. So look for that 18-month window. The second thing I would say is maybe something that's happened during this crisis has caused you to reprioritize or reevaluate the position that you were going to hire. For example, maybe because you're taking so much of your service and realigning it to be able to produce this service and your outreach online, maybe this is the time that you really need to shift to hiring a tech person or somebody that can help your current staff take things from in-person gatherings to more of an online. So maybe right now you need a tech person more than a children's person. That's something that would cause me to think about maybe I pause this and try to figure this out a little bit more. And then the third thing, Matt, that I was thinking was so much has shifted, so much more is on our plates now. If you just feel like this is a little overwhelming right now and you're not sure and you just need to take time to build into your current team and your current staff, this might be a good time to put a short pause on this search so that you make sure that the team that you have is well cared for and is healthy through this really unprecedented time. Those are the three things that I thought of, Matt. Any thoughts or any things that you would add to those as far as when a church should maybe look at pausing?
Matt Steen: I think you hit the biggies. Definitely want to be able to fund this for 18 months. I would say, don't press pause right now for that. Give it a couple of Sundays. See how things are going before you press pause at that point, but yes, definitely want to be able to fund a position. Definitely on reprioritizing. Maybe all of the sudden your worship guy needs to be able to stream services and maybe doesn't have to lead the hand bell choir anymore, so there may be some changing of job description. The only other things is a logistical challenge. You may need to reevaluate and may need to press pause just because your current structure for the search - maybe you have a search team that's made up of people that aren't necessarily technologically savvy and Zoom calls aren't necessarily going to be the easiest thing for them, or perhaps you have a lot of people that are doctors or hospital workers on that team and all of the sudden logistics are going to be a nightmare to get everybody together - you may want to press pause on that as well. That's one of the things that we're able to help churches with and handle a lot of the logistical challenges early on so that you can focus on developing your team, pouring into them, and making pivots while we handle a lot of that initial front-end work. I would definitely say that if you need to rebuild that team or figure out the logistics, you're probably always wise to push pause. Now, you push pause, do it with compassion, do it with clarity, and make sure you really are intentional about communicating with people what's going on. We've got a blog post, we'll drop the link below, on what to do if you pause it. Just some really practical suggestions on that. So let's talk a little bit about why to not pause a search. I think some of these will make a good bit of sense just based on what we've already talked about. My list is pretty short and may sound familiar. First of all is, if you have the reserves in place to be able to pay for this and the financials are not in doubt, then absolutely go for it with this. Do not let the general sense of panic slow this down if you're confident in your reserves. The second things is, if the need for this role is going to remain the same or is going to be greater as a result of the way things have changed, then by all means you need to get rolling with this. We tell churches to expect a minimum of six months to find somebody on their own, just the process of getting resumes and doing interviews and all that kind of stuff and then visits and all that. We tell churches if they're doing a search on their own, it's going to take at least six months to do that search, and we want to make sure that a pause here doesn't set your ministry back 12 months because of the time that goes into it. The last thing is if it's a faithful and wise move to proceed with the search, then do it. What do I mean it's faithful and wise? If it's wise, financially and the need and all that, definitely, if it's wise in that. But there's also a faithful component. It's easy for us in these seasons to panic and say, oh no, we're not having services on Sunday morning in person anymore. The whole thing, you know, the sky's falling, everything's burning down. There's a component to our role as church leaders to be a non-anxious presence and to be faithful and believe that God is not surprised by this. And so if it is a faithful move, meaning that we are convinced that God is calling us to this, that God has put this on us, and for such a time as this we need this role and it makes sense and it's wise, then you need to move forward with this. Todd, what did I forget on that?
Todd Rhoades: I think you're totally right. So we've talked to a lot of church leaders in the past week, and I am incredibly excited about the resilience and the passion that most of the church leaders that we talk to are dealing with this. I don't know that we've talked to anyone that's really freaking out at this point. It's a new reality. Things are going to be different, but the church quite honestly has faced much harder times than this. So there's going to be a tendency, according to what your personality is, and I've had to deal with this this past week too, to either look at what we're going through right now as a total freak-out moment or a total time of opportunity. This has great opportunities for your church, for the big "c" church. It has great opportunities for your team and for your staff and the way that you're able to minister and reach people. But it's going to be different. So I would echo what you say, Matt. Don't make any decisions right now. We're recording this ten days in or so. Most churches did their first livestream or had their first Sunday that they weren't able to meet in person this past Sunday. It looks like that's going to continue for at least a few more weeks, maybe into Easter even -
Matt Steen: I'm telling churches 90 days minimum.
Todd Rhoades: Yeah, I think so too. So we're like one Sunday into a multi-Sunday thing here. Don't make any rash decisions, particularly on huge directional things like searches. There may come a time in the next month where you need to hit pause. There may come that time, but I don't know that that's the time yet. There's a time to be prudent, there's a time to be responsible, but don't be rash.
Matt Steen: If we can walk with you throughout this, our contact information's below. We would love to have a conversation if it would be helpful for you. No expectations, we just want to make sure that you guys navigate this season well. And the rest of our team is available as well. Love to help you guys walk through this. Let us know how we can serve.