Hiring Staff

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJohn Hamm writes in “Unusually Excellent, “A key part of every leader’s job is building and leading teams. The first part of building a team is to get the best possible people on the team. There is no substitute for talent! Hiring great people is arguably the highest-leverage activity that leaders undertake, and many successful leaders spend half their time engaged in issues related to talent and team.”

The best coaches know that winning championships requires selecting and recruiting talented players. Excellent coaching cannot make up for mediocre athletic talent and capacity.

King David selected his “mighty men of valor,” strong personalities who knew how to conquer giants themselves, yet humbled themselves to serve under David’s leadership (2 Samuel 23:8-12). We remember King David today, yet if it was not for those “mighty men of valor,” who surrounded him and supported him and were loyal, he would never have won the great conquests that led to his fame.

Jesus selected a team of men who eventually became the men who “turned the world upside down,” and provided the leadership necessary for the church after Jesus returned to heaven.

Paul selected his missionary teams as he travelled to plant and support the New Testament Churches in his day. Paul was picky about who was invited to his travelling squad, as John Mark could attest (Acts 15:37-41)


Selecting church staff is one of the most strategic and most difficult tasks for any pastor.

Hiring the wrong person for the team, is not something anyone wants to repeat. Neglect of “hire slowly and fire quickly,” has led to undue pain in my life on more than one occasion. Hanging on to poorly-fitting staff has only delayed the inevitable and cost valuable time in the grand scheme of ministry.

Some of my biggest ministry mistakes in 37 years, have to do with selecting the wrong person for the team. Once Paul realized that John Mark was not a good fit for his missionary team, he made the call, refusing to sidestep the inevitable conflict with his mentor, Barnabas, over the de-selection of John Mark.

So… how do you select a ‘winning’ ministry team in the first place?

Hire The Right People.

Easier said than done, or no one would make a mistake! Everyone has good references. Resumes can be crafted to make anyone look wonderful. Larry Osborne of North Coast Church comments, “On inside hires, we had nearly a 100 percent hit rate, and the same for those that we recruited out of previous working relationships and friendships. But outside résumé-hires were a different matter. Our success rate dropped to around 70 percent. Not bad for blind dates, but not too good when it comes to building a healthy ministry team.” [Sticky Teams][1]

The “Four C’s” of hiring is a good place to start – Character, Chemistry, Competency, and Capacity.

Character is king, and usually a lack of integrity can be uncovered with some investigation.

Chemistry is about enjoying working together, since many hours will be logged together, this is one that should not be ignored. It takes time with someone to sense if there is chemistry in the relationship. I am learning to pay attention to my gut here, because an applicant is on their best behavior, and if I am sensing a check in my spirit, the chemistry is not probably going to get better in the day to day stresses of working together. We use the Myers Briggs personality inventory and spiritual gifts testing and StrengthFinders online assessment to help understand how a person is wired, yet there is this chemistry piece that cannot always be quantified through a resume or a degree or an assessment test.

Competency – Speaking of David, Psalm 78:72 (ESV) says “With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.”  We need people with the right heart, but also with skillful hands, which speaks of competence.  We don’t just want people who have good hearts and good intentions, we want people who know what they are doing.

Capacity – has to do with the ability to expand and grow in ministry skills over time as the ministry grows. Roles and responsibilities often change as the ministry changes, and finding people who can adjust their scope of ministry can make all the difference in preventing stagnation.  Andy Stanley, Pastor of Northpoint Community Church in Atlanta commented, “today, everyone that started on the original launch team, is now in different roles. I think I am the only one who is still in his original role.”

Clarify the Role

In one sentence, what is expected of the new hire?

Here are some examples:
* A Worship Director is expected to create memorable worship experiences every Sunday.
* An Executive Pastor is to create a “leadership development environment,” developing and equipping leaders across the ministry landscape.
* The Youth Pastor is to build an ever-expanding team of adults to reach and disciple students.
* The Family Ministry Director – Build a team of teachers who create a healthy spiritual environment where children know that they are loved by God and by their church.

By clarifying the role in one sentence, you are defining the win and avoiding the friction that comes with conflicting agendas. This can lead to departmentalism where there is little cooperation and coordination on the team, leading to stunted team success. We are on a team, and ultimately we are pursuing team success where the entire ministry wins, not just individual silos.

Clarify Expectations

Clarity begins with a job description, but is maintained through regular and ongoing communication and feedback on job performance.

Weekly status reports, reflecting tasks completed, current work projects and future ministry plans are very helpful in avoiding surprises when it comes to yearend performance reviews.

Empower for Ministry.

Leading others is much like flying a kite. If you hold on to the string too tightly (control) the kite will never soar. If you let go too quickly, the kite will crash. There is skill in providing others with the appropriate authority and responsibility and tools required for a flourishing ministry.

Some pastors control the life out of the ministry because they cannot let go appropriately and trust the staff member to carry out the assigned ministry.

One of the skills that a leader must master is determining when the organization needs either more chaos or more control. If we begin to fear chaos and tighten the controls too much, we’ll have order but no creativity and no life. A cemetery comes to mind. But turn completely toward chaos, and a riot results. The corporate culture will feel like static electricity—exciting and even fun but unproductive. The valves for your organization are at the control end while the steam that actually powers the machine comes from the chaos end of things. You can’t have one without the other; that’s the tension of the chaos-control continuum. That equilibrium shifts, and a leader must be flexible, willing to move and respond to changing circumstances.

Dr. Mark Rutland – Relaunch

The ultimate goal is to multiply the ministry by empowering and enabling an ever expanding team of ministers.

Open Door Policy

My door is always open to any staff or Board members who need help. They should know that they have a shepherd even as they shepherd others. The enemy wants to divide and destroy the team from within (Proverbs 6:19). Open and honest communication makes all the difference in avoiding misunderstanding and divisiveness that plagues many multiple staff teams. Patrick Lincioni has written some very helpful principles in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” and highlights the foundation of trust that is necessary for any team to excell over time.


[1]: Osborne, Larry 2010-02-26. Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page – p.60. Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Posted by sblubeck

Website: http://www.stanlubeck.com