Staffing for the Future

In our current culture of planting new churches, revitalizing churches and multi-site churches we tend to lose sight we are hiring a person and not this ideal profile or stereotype of the perfect staff member.

Think about it. We hire people — not commodities, job titles, stereotypes, or profiles

A job or ministry description is written. It gives the requirements for knowledge, skills, and experience. Maybe the more evolved ministries include responsibilities, performance criteria, or some information designed to fulfill the ministry responsibility.

A resume is written. The exact same information is exchanged.

Yet, we still are struggling with the idea that job descriptions and resumes are not enough — that there is lots of important information missing from the process.

Churches and ministries have been narrowing there profile for talent for the last several years. But relying only on resumes and job descriptions is like capturing the wind. Churches and ministries keep trying to change the net – screening tools, assessments, big data, social etc. That is a good start, but we still have to use them the right way, and for the right reasons.

We also need to realize ministries have changed and many churches are trying to do more with less staff. With the decline in church attendance, church growth and declining budgets  many ministry positions have become hybrid roles where one person takes on more than one job. We need to give up “replacing” people and take a bigger view about both workers and work.

I have talked with many senior pastors as they talk about talent mismatches, instead of talent shortages. We need to begin talking about finding a “teachable fit” – and hiring or training those with the gifts, aptitude and attitude to accomplish the ministry function.

We tend to keep filling ministry positions with the exact same people, skills, experience. If we want to have impact in the future we need to focus more on traits and abilities and passion.  In the ever changing role of ministry responsibilities some of  the needed critical traits for leadership are collaborative, communicative, creative, flexible people we can teach. 

So how do we figure out what traits, aptitudes, attitudes, and motivators we need to find in potential staff? We need to get to know future staff on a very different, and human level.

Here are some ways to find the right people instead of just a match between resumes and job descriptions.

For Pastors and Staff

  • Own who you are as a ministry.  Has the church restructured or changed direction each time the church changed pastors? Are you a structured, formal environment – stable and static?  Do you have core values?  Are these values real and obvious throughout your organization, or just declared, do you just talk about them to sound good? Different people succeed in different environments. Know who you are so you can evaluate appropriately.
  • Own who you are as a ministry team.  Same questions as above – but now it’s time to get even more granular. What are the team dynamics? Who are the players? Do you know and understand the unspoken culture? How would someone new coming in interact with an existing staff member? What role would they play?  See beyond tasks and responsibilities to how people function together.  Know who you are so you can empower your team appropriately.
  • Own who you are as a leader/manager.  Who are you willing to invest your life? If you are going to teach, develop, challenge, shape, and promote your staff, you had better be interested in them, their well-being, and how challenged and happy they are. It takes trust, time and commitment to train and develop staff. Figure out your own strengths, challenges and resources so you can build the right team. Know who you are so you can engage your team appropriately.
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