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Recently, I passed a truck stop attempting to hire more wait staff. The sign said, “Experienced servers apply.” I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Is it really that important for a truck stop server to be experienced?”

Though not usually quite as obvious, many organizations overvalue experience. Churches are no exception. It is natural to take the same hiring approach as this truck stop, focusing only on people who have done it before. But experience isn’t nearly all it takes to be successful.

Have you ever had a serious problem with a staff person? I’ll bet it wasn’t because he or she lacked experience. In fact, most staff issues could be prevented if we focused our hiring more on the qualities of a person and less on his or her experience.

Only you can determine the specific qualities needed. The next time you begin a hiring process, define the following three types of qualities for the position:

  1. Personality Qualities – Every possible candidate has a unique personality. Identifying the personality qualities most essential to success will help you better see who is a natural fit for the job. Are you looking for someone with a big personality? Do you need someone who can handle high levels of stress? Make a list of the personality traits that would help a new hire succeed.
  1. Leadership Qualities – Defining the specific type of leader you’re looking for will ensure you hire the right fit for the team that will follow them. Do you need an inspirational leader who can win others over? Are you looking for a strategic problem-solver who can lead others to solutions? Think about the team the new hire will lead and describe the ideal leader for it.
  1. Organizational Culture Qualities – Your organization is a unique work environment different from any other. Within it, there are specific qualities one needs to do well. Do the people on your team need to be fast-paced? Flexible? Persevering? Pull a few leaders together and ask, “What does it take to succeed at our church?” Refine their responses to define the qualities required by your organizational culture.

Defining the qualities you’re looking for will help you see people deeper than their resume. It will also help you attract people you otherwise could have missed. Imagine the people my local truck stop might recruit with a sign reading, “Outgoing, Servant-hearted, Quick-thinkers apply.” When you begin hiring for qualities, you’ll soon find that experience isn’t nearly as important as you may have thought.

Photo Credit: Beaulawrence via Compfight cc

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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