Today, I had a conversation with one of the church planters I’m coaching. During the coaching call he asked me, “What are some ways to help staff be more productive?” I made several suggestions and then I told him that his question is not the most important question on this subject. The more important question is this: “How do I hire people the right way?” Our conversation went on from there. I want to share a few of the thoughts we had during that conversation.

First, the key to developing effective staff is in hiring more than in training. You can hire a dog but you can’t teach him how to talk. The sad truth is that some people have tried to teach dogs to talk just like some pastors have tried their best to get incompetent, unmotivated, or unsuited people to perform well, and it never happens. If you hire the wrong person for the job, it will never work out like you want it to, even if that person is gifted.

Say you are looking for a person to be responsible for overseeing the evangelistic outreach of the church. It turns out the person is a solid introvert who hates to invade other people’s space. Do you think that person will be effective in that role? No way. But if you hire an effective used car salesperson that loves Christ, odds are that person will be very effective.

So the key to staffing effectively is more in the hiring than the training. Hire the right people for the right job and you will have a winner no matter what kind of training you give them. They will make sure they get the training they need.

This is why I always recommend hiring from within if at all possible. The way this works is you put a volunteer that has promise in your eyes in the area you think you might hire them and then watch how they perform. If they do well as a volunteer, the odds are they will do well as a paid staff person. You still may have to provide them with some training but it won’t be the remedial type.

My experience with a large staff taught me three valuable lessons about staffing: everything is in the hiring, accountability, and firing.

  • Hire the right people- which means either being able to watch them over time or doing due diligence in the hiring process.
  • Hold people accountable and evaluate their performance on a regular basis so you and they know how they are doing every step of the way.
  • Fire them the moment you’re convinced that no amount of training will get them up to speed – this usually takes no more than six months to determine.

Question: What tips do you have on hiring and firing church staff? Share your expertise in the Comments section below.

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