The most expensive hire you will ever make is hiring the wrong person.
Hiring can be scary, filled with many unknowns, but unless you want to be a solo pastor in a church of “us four and no more,” you’ll have to add to your team sooner or later. In our work at Vanderbloemen Search Group with thousands of pastors and churches, we have the privilege of observing many hiring processes from a bird’s eye view – some that go very well, and some that go poorly.
Apply these five tips, and you’ll be well on your way to making good hires that are productive and less costly.
Tip 1: Think Ahead Of Urgency
Too often in ministry, responding to the immediate means putting off the important. Every summer, we get regular calls from pastors who have lost their student pastor, have no idea who they should reach out to as a replacement, put off starting the hiring process, and now really need the new youth pastor there before school starts.
Don’t get caught in this situation, if you can at all prevent it. We encourage our clients to be thinking about hiring before it’s needed. We also encourage them to build a pipeline of potential hires.
Tip 2: Do Not Hire Too Quickly
If there is one cardinal sin of church staffing that I see repeated most, it’s this: churches hire too quickly, and they fire too slowly.
Usually after waiting too long to hire, churches are then backed into the corner of needing to have their new staff member there sooner rather than later. The important has now also become urgent. Too often, this scenario is followed by the church hiring the first decent candidate that comes along. I can count on my hand the number of times I’ve seen that work out.
Tip 3: Do Not Hire Someone Because You “Know” Them
Hiring is an anxiety-ridden task. The root of that anxiety is the fear of the unknown.
Chances are, you’re either replacing someone that you know, love, and are sad to see leave, or you’re replacing someone that you thought you knew and with whom you’re disappointed and/or upset with in the wake of their (sometimes necessary) departure.
Either way, replacing that person with someone you don’t know feels really scary, and rightly so. I’m a big believer of hiring from within, but that only works a certain percentage of the time. So what happens when there’s nobody within the church or staff that can fill your open position?
We see this often. A church will hire someone the pastor “knows” from outside the church. Maybe a longtime friend, or a classmate from school, or even worse, someone you’ve connected with via social media. No matter how little you know them, it feels right, because some of the fear of the unknown is reduced.
But just because you know a person does not mean they will fit your church. In fact, many times personal relationships can cloud the objectivity needed to make a great hire.
Tip 4: Do Not Hire Based On Your Amazing Ability To Make “Blink” Decisions
People often decide within a few minutes whether or not a candidate will “fit.” When I was a pastor building my team, I used to think I had this trait. I thought I could quickly assess someone’s skills, experience, and potential based on their resume and my first interaction with them. But then I realized that half of the time, my blink hiring decisions were dead wrong.
The good news is that hiring really is an act of the gut. However, we all need to use the spiritual gift of discernment. And discernment takes time. This is another reason that having an objective set of eyes helping you with your hiring is vital.
Tip 5: Do Not Skip The Reference Checks
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your hiring process is skipping the background and reference checks on your potential new hire. Reference and background checks are your opportunity to protect your church and learn how your candidate has performed on church staffs in the past. At Vanderbloemen Search Group, we conduct the entire reference, background, and credit check process for our clients to ensure they receive a 360 degree view of their potential hire.
Like I said, the most expensive hire you can make is a bad hire. Use these tips when you’re building your team to ensure that your church follows hiring best practices.