About five years before the announcement, Lead Pastor Bill Schroeder at The Chapel in Sandusky, OH started preparing to pass the baton of leadership. He engaged conversations with trusted business leaders and pastors, read the best-selling books, and started planning with the church’s senior leadership team.
“People at our church just won’t volunteer.”
It’s a response we get often to our research on volunteer involvement. We recently found that the average church engages 45% of adults and students in volunteer roles. Many even engage upwards of 71%! However, for many churches, those numbers sound like an impossible dream.
What is the difference among churches with a high volunteer rate? In many cases, these churches have traded a culture of status for a culture of service.
One of the most common lids to growth in a church is structure. It can free you up to move toward the vision that God has given your church or it can chain you to the past. Either way, it’s your choice. But how do you know if a restructure is in your future? These helpful tips below will help you get going in the right direction.
Do you have a healthy and effective church staff?
Church leaders across the country consistently contact us after they’ve become frustrated trying to lead ministry with an ineffective structure. We’ve seen firsthand that how a church approaches staffing is a reliable indicator for whether or not it will accomplish its vision.
Last week, Tony Morgan partnered up with Vanderbloemen Search Group to dig into this topic and provide some practical advice and resources. If you missed the webinar, you can watch the replay on-demand:
The biggest church staffing mistake you can make is hiring the wrong person.
Not only does making a bad hire cost your church a lot of money in the long run, it can ruin morale, productivity, and vision-alignment among your church staff.
Some people just have a knack for making good hires. Others have had a lot of years of experience to give them impeccable intuition. If neither of those are you, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to hire great staff. You may just need to learn what not to do.
Here are 6 church staffing mistakes the Vanderbloemen Search Group team has seen church leaders make and how you can avoid them.
1. Involving the wrong people in the hiring process
Before you start a search for a new church staff member, your team should ask, “Who should be involved in making this hire?”
This is probably the most crucial piece. Are the people who wrote the job description and requirements the ones actually doing the interviews? Are you letting both this new hire’s direct manager and fellow team members interview the candidates?
If you have one person writing the job description and another person interviewing, yet the team that this candidate is expected to work with has never met them, how will you know if there is a good culture fit on both sides? We’ve seen churches make this mistake too many times, causing tension, confusion, and a longer search process than expected.
Having the right people on your hiring team is crucial to the success of the new hire.
2. Failing to detail the exact role that needs to be filled
Before you write a job description, can you name the specific needs that this position will fill?
We often see rapidly growing churches that are overwhelmed with new initiatives, so they start hiring because they know they need help. However, they can’t name the areas of responsibility that this new person will take over.
Until you lay out what responsibilities you want this role to take on, it will be hard to make the right hire. You might think you need a Student Pastor, but once you write out all the details you may find out what you have actually needed this whole time is a Family Pastor or a NextGen Pastor.
3. Writing a confusing job description
Is your job description clear and concise, or is it confusing and difficult to read? You might not know what 100% of the responsibilities of this new job will be, and of course there is always room for “other duties as assigned.”
However, you should know what 95% of this position is going to look like so you can properly recruit for the role and set candidates’ expectations upfront. Without a clear vision, objectives, duties, performance benchmarks, and expectations, it will be very difficult to gauge whether or not your new hire is serving your ministry well.
4. Playing the “what if” game
You want to hire the best person you can find for your role, but are you missing out on great candidates because you are waiting for “the one?”
You should always hire slowly with intentionality and prayer, but don’t miss out on the right candidate because you’re comparing them to an imaginary “what if” standard.
Hiring always comes with risk, but if you’re abiding by best practices, seeking outside help, and have a candidate that meets both the cultural and competency pieces you’re looking for, they might be the right candidate for the role.
Candidates are people, and no person is perfect. Don’t miss out on someone amazing because you are waiting for perfection. Don’t let fear guide your search instead of faith.
5. Neglecting to do thorough reference and background checks
A crucial key to a successful hiring process is a thorough reference and background check.
“A misconception about conducting church background checks is that they are intended to ‘dig up dirt’ on a potential hire. This is not the case. The process of conducting church background checks are intended for you to get to know your potential new team member better and gain clarity on whether they would be a good fit for your team or not.”
If you come across anything concerning on a background check, make sure you give your potential new hire a chance to explain. You never know what the circumstances are behind bankruptcy, debt, or a late payment until you sit down and talk about the details with the candidate.
6. Not interviewing the spouse/family of the candidate
If you are in the final stages of the search process, you should definitely be interviewing the candidate’s spouse. You can tell a lot about a person in watching how they interact with their spouse.
Is the entire family ready for a move? You might have a candidate who is thrilled to move for a new position, but you might find out that the spouse and family are not ready for a big move. If you only ever talk to the candidate, you might not know how their family is feeling about a possible transition.
Are you expecting the spouse to be heavily involved in your church? If so, that’s even more of a reason to include them in the interview process and set expectations upfront.
These are a few of the hiring mistakes we see being made. What are some things you wish you had been told before you started making hires for your organization?
Wondering how pastors of multisite churches lead effectively across multiple locations?
You’ll have to check out those resources to get all the insights. But here are a few significant ways multisite churches are staying staffing to stay unstuck:
1) SIZE: Waiting until they have the strength to go multisite.
Based on our research, churches are less likely to go multisite until they have at least 1,000 people in weekly attendance. This points to a few areas of strength required of an effective multisite church. Growing churches of over 1,000 have refined and proven their ministry models. They also have the ability to establish staff and volunteer depth from which to send out campus launch teams.
When it comes to multisite, having a critical mass really does make a difference.
2) STRUCTURE: Leading ministry through a matrix.
Two out of three multisite churches are utilizing a matrix structure to connect their campus staff to two uniquely gifted leaders. Their campus pastor provides local vision, leadership coaching, accountability, and care. Their central leader equips them with the strategies and resources needed to lead their specific ministries.
You can learn more about the matrix structure and find a visual example in our new white paper.
3) STRATEGY: Making strategic decisions through a Central Services team.
The relationship between campus pastors and central leaders can often be unclear and even strained. Tension generally stems from confusion about how decisions get made. In 60% of multisite churches, strategic decisions are made by the central services team.
This style of decision-making creates alignment across multiple locations, maximizing resources and a proven ministry model. By the time a church reaches four total campuses, we believe this Central Services team becomes essential.
This is just a glimpse of our recent insights on leading a multisite church. Want to learn more? Check out these deeper resources for multisite churches and for single-site churches considering their first campus launch:
RESOURCES FOR YOU:
Are you a reader?
Prefer to watch?
Check out our on-demand replay of the Making Multisite Work webinar.
Our team has over 40+ years of experience leading in successful multisite churches. Learn how we’re helping churches around the country reach more people through more locations.
So you’ve just made what you believe is a great hire. The new staff member is talented, experienced, and they fit the culture of your church. They’re really going to help you get where you believe God wants you to go. They’re hired! What’s next?
Churches are notorious for racing to the finish line of a hiring process, getting the newly hired candidate in the room and breathing a collective sigh of relief. The typical church basically says, “Congratulations, you’re hired! Here are your keys. Now go figure it out.” Once the new hire is made though, you’re not done. If you don’t intentionally think through the first days of their employment it can leave a sour taste for the remainder of their employment relationship with you. While they may love working at your church in 5 years, they’ll always remember their first impression as being negative. Below are 5 steps you can take to set your new hire up for success!
1. The First Day in the Office
The dating is over. Now you’re married. But just like marriages fall apart due to a lack of dating, employment relationships go south when employers stop pursuing their employees. Intentionally think through what you want their first experience and day in the office to be like. There is definitely standard first day orientation stuff like keys, security codes, computer, introductions, etc. A welcome basket, lunch with the team, Starbucks, and a personal card are all simple things that anyone can do. What can you do to make it positive and memorable? If you don’t plan for it to go well, then it won’t. You want them going home saying, “This is going to be a great place to work. I’m so glad I took this job!”
2. Public Communication Plan
How are you going to communicate the hire, when are you going to communicate it, and whom are you going to communicate it to? Does your church announce each new hire from the stage? Is it a simple verbal announcement, a printed piece, does it go on the website or social media, do you do a video? If you’re trying to figure out how to communicate the hire, a general rule of thumb to go by is, “The more public the role, the more public the communication.”
3. Manage Expectations
There are always expectations associated with a new hire; in a Church setting some of those expectations are realistic, many are not. Unfortunately most are unspoken, and usually have to do with growth and an extraordinary move of God. Having a clear conversation about realistic expectations over the first 90 days and the first year is critical for long-term success. By the way getting their family settled and acculturated to the church and the community should be at the top of the list if you want them on the team for the long run.
4. Opportunities for Wins
Identifying opportunities for wins is essential during the first 12 months of employment. Although your new staff member is incredible (that’s why you hired them), they don’t know what you know about your people and your context. So while they have “fresh eyes” that you need to leverage you also have knowledge that you need to use to set them up for success. To have your new team member experiencing wins in their first 12 months puts credit in their pocket and makes you look like you made a great hire. Which you did!
5. Build Leadership and Relational Equity
For the typical new church staff member there are 3 circles of influence that they need to build leadership and relational equity with. The church staff, their volunteer team, and the audience their particular ministry affects. Your job is to help them by putting them in the right situation with the right people to set them up for long-term success.
I’d love to hear about some other things you’ve done or have seen employers do to set new hires up for success over the first 90 days and first 12 months! Leave a comment!
This article was originally posted on www.paulalexanderblog.com.
We continue to build our team here at The Unstuck Group, and today we introduce you to Josh Clark, one of our newest ministry consultants. Josh is a pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Wildomar, CA. Read on to get to know him — He shares his story of joining our team along with some leadership and speaking lessons learned over the years.
TIFFANY: Could you tell me about your background and experience that led you to become a part of The Unstuck Team?
JOSH: I first connected with Tony Morgan when he was at Granger Community Church, and years later, I participated in one of his coaching networks. When I started at Cornerstone Community Church in 2013, I knew Tony and The Unstuck Group could help us refine our vision and direction for the next season of our church. Our Senior Pastor agreed, and we partnered with Unstuck in a full engagement.
The renewed energy that came as a result of fresh clarity around mission, vision, and core strategies was incredible, and the momentum we experienced as we executed focused action initiatives was exciting.
I decided to become licensed to facilitate our internal StratOp process. It was such a joy for me that it was very appealing to serve other churches in this way. Being a part of the Unstuck team was a natural next step for me personally, and our local church sees it as a way to invest in other churches. Either that or they just want me out of the office.
TIFFANY: How/when did you discover you had a passion for helping churches get unstuck?
JOSH: I’m a maximizer. Nothing gets me more excited than seeing a plateaued resource push through barriers to reach new heights. Whether I’ve been in the marketplace or the church, I’ve spent my entire career helping organizations find renewal. My favorite story is probably my first experience helping a ministry get Unstuck. It involved a struggling student ministry at a great church in northeast Ohio. The Senior Pastor empowered me to join an incredible team of volunteers. Over the next three years, God gave us an off-campus, 16,000 square foot student center that continues to reach 100’s of students today.
TIFFANY: What’s been one of the most unexpected leadership lessons you’ve learned while working in the local church?
JOSH: People don’t want a perfect leader; people want an authentic one. I worship alongside a family every weekend that is back in church partly because I admitted to lying about “borrowing” someone’s toothbrush. It’s too long a story to tell here; maybe I’ll blog about it soon. I’ve found that confession is better than concealment both for you and for those who follow you. Whether you lead in the church, the marketplace or your home, owning your need for grace allows others a better chance to both give and receive it.
TIFFANY: What tips do you have for teaching pastors who want to better connect with church-goers this year?
I’m definitely still learning as a communicator. Just be yourself. I believe people, churched and unchurched, are desperate for leaders who are authentic. When a teacher presents truth that has first transformed them, it is powerful.
Practically, if you’re a young communicator, find some great speakers who resonate with you and study their craft. I’ve always enjoyed Andy Stanley’s teaching. His single point, “Me – We – God – You – Us” speaking structure was helpful while I was still formulating my own personal style. When you’re young, it’s all about reps. We all have 500 or so bad sermons to get out of us. Find some great communicators you can model, but make it your own. It’s amazing how God will use simple truth communicated from the platform of a changed life.
Photo via Pexels cc
Our team recently served Westside Community Church in Beaverton, Oregon with a strategic planning retreat. As we got to know their team, we were impressed by this church’s foresight in succession planning — something we see few churches doing well. I asked pastors Ken Wooten and Gabe Kolstad to share how they made a plan to ensure the health of their church through a dramatic shift in ministry strategy and in future seasons of transition.
Our most recent research revealed that church growth happens when every team member has these two things in place:
- clear job responsibilities
- clear, measurable goals.
In the churches we surveyed, the ones that provided this clarity were growing 40% faster than those who weren’t.
One of the best ways to accomplish this clarity is to establish and execute a performance review process. Don’t get turned off by the word “performance” in the same sentence as the word “church.” This is about establishing a system to empower your team with clarity and open dialogue. It’s a way to make YOU a better leader, more accountable to your team, as much as it is about making them more accountable for their work. This process should include both documented goals and regular conversations between each staff member and their leader.
Here are some tips to make this work for your church:
1) Determine who on your staff will be accountable for owning the performance process.
It could be an executive or administrative pastor or someone who typically oversees the human resources responsibilities.
2) Establish a process and put dates on the calendar.
Keep the process simple – establish an annual timeline that includes check-points that work for your entire organization. The beginning of the calendar year is a great time (but March isn’t too late!) to have each employee consider what wins will look like for their ministry for the coming year. A mid-year check-in and year-end review ensure accountability for following up on performance. A paper form could be e-mailed between employee/manager (or kept on Google drives and shared). Another option would be to consider the free online resource develop.me where you can set, track, and share goals.
3) Set goals.
Establishing goals should be a two-way conversation with each employee and the person responsible for managing and developing the individual. Ensure each goal contributes to the overall mission and vision of the church so that the employee can see clearly how they help move the organization forward. Most goals should align with the specific gifting of the team member and be things that he or she feels is personally important. Consider what should be accomplished and how the goal should be met. In many circumstances, goals should be around equipping other leaders (staff or volunteer) and executing ministry through others. Goals should be clear, leading the team member to feel equipped and empowered to exceed the accomplishments.
Make sure each goal is SMART:
Specific (what the expectation is and how it is to be achieved)
Measurable (what defines a win)
Achievable (should provide opportunity to stretch and grow while being resourced and supported)
Results-based (numbers, values)
Time bound (set deadline)
4) Finally, revisit progress throughout the year.
Your church’s goals or strategies may change throughout the year. Ensure accountability and what a win “looks like” is always clear. If ministry begins to creep in scope, reevaluate what is being done.
Ensuring each employee knows what a win looks like and how they are progressing against those wins will help your staff and your church grow and develop to reach their full potential.
Photo credit: Alejandro Escamilla via Unsplash