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.