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.
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.