One of the most exciting times in the life of a church is when they are able to hire new staff. In his book Strategic Disciple Making, Aubrey Malphurs tells us there are three times when churches should recruit staff:
1. When critical things aren’t getting done – because your team is too busy doing other critical things
2. When your church is growing – there are more people and more needs to cover
3. When your church plateaus – it may be stuck at its current size because the staff can only handle so many people, and those who feel uncared for start dropping out, replaced by new ones at the same rate
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you are involved in hiring people:
1. Always be considering where the next hire needs to be. Aubrey Malphurs says the best time to hire someone is before you feel the need. What he means by that is that it is ideal to be able to play offense rather than defense – to be able to fill a spot before the situation becomes critical. When you can stay ahead of the curve, it means that you can take the time to look for the right person without being rushed, and that can help you avoid some mistakes.
2. Keep a file of potential future staff. As you run across promising candidates, keep their names and information in a file that you can pull out quickly in the event of an opening.
3. Have a written job description. Too often a staff member is hired and comes on board having heard one set of expectations for the position, only to find that those don’t match up with the reality. That creates a problem for both the church and the staff member.
In a related thought, make extensive notes in the interview, and then do a follow-up document expressing the major thoughts expressed by both sides. Share it among the committee to be sure there is a consensus that this is really their view, then share it with the candidate. This can help a committee clarify what it is really looking for, and can help the candidate clearly see what the church’s expectations are.
4. Don’t assume you know them well after an interview. Some people are charming and smooth in an interview, but once you get them on the job you discover their primary skill is good interviews. Others may appear shy or less assertive, but you may find they are top workers once they are on board. The interview is helpful, but it is no replacement for talking to people who have worked with the candidate previously.
Another suggestion: always have more than one person participating in an interview with a candidate. Sometimes the whole search committee will be involved, but if not, at least have someone else with you as you do the interview. They can help you observe the candidate, pick up on questionable areas, notice things you may have missed as you are engaged in the conversation.
Some useful interview questions might be, “As a leader, how have you relied on others?” or “How do you compensate for your weaknesses?” (The question, “What are your weaknesses?” always elicits the clichéd response, “I just can’t seem to stop being such a perfectionist.”) Be careful – when someone projects only strength, there’s usually a hidden weakness.
Michael Duduit is founding Dean of the College of Christian Studies and the Clamp Divinity School at Anderson University. He also serves as Professor of Christian Ministry. He is the founder and still serves as Executive Editor of Preaching magazine, one of the nation’s premier publications for pastors. His email newsletter, Preaching Now, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences. He is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, Joy in Ministry: Messages from Second Corinthians, Preaching with Power: Dynamic Insights from Twenty Top Communicators and Communicate With Power.