Monday, March 19, 2012

Staffing For Success Part 2

Randy Stone

The right staff blend can make or break a church. Staffing for success is a spiritual requirement and a managerial art.  I will propose several guidelines under three main ideas.

Order of Hiring

     Complement the pastor’s strengths and weaknesses.  The second staff person to hire should be either a “lay mobilizer” or worship leader depending on the strengths of the pastor and the make up the church.  If the pastor is a good organizer and equipper of lay leaders a worship leader may be in order. If not…consider hiring a staff member who can work with multiple teams. The three legged stool for success has:  a pastor to lead, feed, and care for the sheep, a lay mobilizer who can assimilate new members, organize for spiritual growth and organize for  service to the church and community, as well as a worship leader who leads people to worship Christ corporately and personally.

     Consider the church’s gifts, talents, passions and abilities. Take an assessment of your congregation. Do you have lay leaders who can take on a specific ministry area rather than hire a staff person?  In this economy and in the economy of the church building a “staff” of quality lay people before spending money on workers has the greatest benefit. Don’t hire staff just to “fill the holes” in congregational strengths. If God has not gifted your church in some areas ask “Are we really supposed to be doing this?” Hire staff that will equip and train workers and leaders in your congregation. Ephesians Chapter 4 is clear that the leadership call is to prepare members for ministry.

     Determine where God is working. Add staff in areas where God seems to be working or believe he wants to work. It’s much easier for staff to be successful if they enter a ministry with momentum and possibilities rather than decline and retreat.

How to Hire
Jim Collins in his excellent book Good to Great says you must get the right people on the bus if you want to move your organization forward. What does that mean for churches? Three or four qualities should be considered.

     Call.  Does the person we are considering for a staff position have a clear call to Christ? A specific ministry? People type? Geographical area?

     Commitment. Does this person demonstrate a commitment to Christ and the mission of the church? Are they willing to go the extra mile for success?

     Character. Does this person have integrity of lifestyle and moral foundation that will sustain them?  Do they have a good reputation with former churches, employers, and/or the community?

     Competency. Can this person do the job they are being asked to do? Do they have a record of success? Do they have the skills, experience, training, and preparation to handle the responsibilities and authority that accompanies the position?  If not, can they be trained for the job?  Who will coach them? Construct a plan to help new staff members be successful. It is vital for them and the church.

     Chemistry. Will adding this person enhance or hinder the ministry leadership team already in place? Will they contribute by supporting all the ministries? Are they “lone ranger” staffers who prefer to build their own ministry (often to the detriment of others)? Expect the new staff members to add value to the other ministries. If they cannot they will eventually damage your team.

Pay Properly
Failure to provide a consistent compensation plan will diminish staff morale and tenure.

     Consistent with the Cost of Living. New staff members should be paid enough to comfortably live in the community the church serves. Key cost factors include: housing,  transportation, medical care, and education. Be sure to allow room in the budget for basic salary, benefits, and continuing education.

     Commensurate with Responsibility. Staff members should be compensated according to a criteria established by the church. Consider responsibilities, career experience, and educational attainment. One size may not fit everyone on staff.

     Annual Adjustment. Staff should know what to expect in regard to annual cost of living changes and performance increases. Establish a formal salary plan.  Determine the markers for merit pay and communicate them. Make sure all staff understand what can be expected from year to year. Staff evaluations are necessary in a highly productive staff environment.

I’m convinced that many of our churches would be much more effective in evangelism, discipleship, and ministry if the church staff was healthy and productive. Too much of the church’s energy is spent replacing short term staff members, managing staff disagreements, or resolving leadership disappointments with staff members. I hope these guidelines will give you some direction as you build your church leadership team.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Staffing For Success Part 1

By Randy Stone
I receive calls almost weekly from church staff or search committees requesting an employment reference for a student, former employee, or colleague.  Several of these calls pertain to open positions for age group ministers, such as Youth Pastor or Children Minister.  When I inquire about the church to see if the person under consideration is a viable candidate or a good fit for the church, I tend to discover that many of these search committees are filling a staff slot and the pastor, personnel, or leadership have not taken the appropriate and necessary steps to determine a realistic and effective staffing plan. In order for us, as the church to be successful in our ministry, we must be very intentional about our staff additions.

How do you hire staff in your church or congregation?  For the majority of my life and ministry, the typical hiring pattern consists of Pastor, Worship/Music, Youth, Children, Associate Pastor. Then what?  Unfortunately, employing staff in this sequence may create some unintended consequences, such as: 

1.      Inefficient allocation of financial resources. When churches add staff to work with specific ministry areas or age groups it relegates a significant portion of the budget to small or limited segments of the congregation. For example a youth pastor usually has only 10-12 % of the Sunday morning attendance in their ministry, few or none of which contribute to the general fund, and all increase the amount of funds necessary to support the ministry.  Some ministries contribute and others cost. A conscious effort must be made to keep a correct balance of the two.
2.      Increase in “turf wars” and “siloism”. Staff members by nature of their calling, passion, and expectations, will invest heavily in their own ministry area.  Most churches desire staffers with those passions, but few of those hired have the capacity to see the “big picture.”  As a result competition for people, financial, and communication resources is a natural by-product.
3.      Confusion with communication.  The number and quality of messages changes as new staff are added. Congregants begin to hear messages from individual staff members about priorities of the church which may not be consistent with each other or the overall priorities of the church.  The communication skills and access of staff to members will dictate the messages heard and received. For example, worship leaders have consistent and quality time with members in corporate worship while other staff may feel “pushed out” of the communication loop.

Developing a staffing plan will take some thought, time, attention, and involvement by key committees in a church, but the rewards are worth it. A quality team working together for the benefit of the church and its mission will increase morale and mission effectiveness.  Next post I will suggest some hiring guidelines.