I was involved in a conversation earlier today about hiring a staff member at a church. Hiring staff can be a real sticky situation. In some churches, the denomination does the hiring. That can be a huge issue that I don’t personally “get.” What happens if the Lead Pastor (or in a larger multi-staff church the ministry leader) doesn’t get along with the new staff member … or vice versa? In a healthy church, the immediate supervisor does the hiring (the HR or Staff Parish may have veto power) and they do the firing (period). This curtails a lot of staff problems from the git-go, if the Lead Pastor chooses wisely.

The rule of thumb that should be used for all hires is found in the following maxim I learned from my colleague Bill Easum:

  1. Hire for passion.
  2. Train for skills.

However, there are a number of other criteria I used whenever I went looking for a team member. I looked for a couple of significant qualities. These qualities are in order of most important to least important.

  1. Spiritual Commitment. This should be a given. If the candidate isn’t a practicing, faithful, disciple of Jesus whose walk doesn’t match their talk, then find another candidate. You’re not looking for perfect people, but you are looking for those who express themselves as fully redeemed people.
  2. Passion. When I shared the mission and vision (and the rest of the DNA) of the church, if their eyes weren’t on fire, they were a miss.
  3. Loyalty. I never hired anyone I didn’t think was going to be 100% loyal to me. They didn’t have to agree with me all the time, but if they disagreed they did so in my office one-on-one and NO where else. This was one of two areas where I had a no-tolerance policy (the other was breaches of ministerial ethics).
  4. Teachability. I only hired those who knew they didn’t know it all and were hungry to learn more and were flexible enough to suspend their judgment long enough to give something new an honest try.
  5. Chemistry. If we didn’t click, it was an immediate nix.
  6. Teamwork. Did they have a history of playing nice on the playground and could they gather enough friends for a good game of kickball? If not, they weren’t going to do well on our team.
  7. Intuition. Mine. If I had any nagging doubts or red flags, I’d keep looking. I would reconsider if the “right” person didn’t come along, but if my intuition hiccuped, I’d take note.
  8. Intuition. My wife’s. If her spirit said, “No” that was good enough for me without questioning it. I’ve been burned too many times not listening to her heart … she’s has an incredible gift of discernment and I pay heed. Find someone who has that kind of intuition, if yours isn’t incredible.
  9. Ability. Notice this is dead last. If everything else checked out, but they didn’t have all the skills they were going to need, I considered them anyway and if they were hired they were trained at our expense.

One last caveat. If the Lead Pastor is saddled with hiring everyone and there are more than four employees, I always want to know why. In ministry, overseeing more than four team members is untenable. The fifth and beyond staff members should be supervised by one of the pastor’s team members. If you need to know more about this, be sure to check out the Fractaling information on Easum, Bandy & Tenny-Brittian website.