10 Strategies For Smart Staffing


I get to spend a lot of time with churches either consulting related to staffing and structure or helping churches with searches for senior-level leaders. Here are some of the philosophies that shape how I coach leaders about church staffing. Use this as a guide...

1. Think strategy before staffing structure.What's your discipleship strategy? How do you help people who are new to your church become fully-devoted followers of Christ? How do you reach people outside the faith and outside the church? Build your staffing structure around that strategy.

2. Hire ministry leaders rather than ministry doers. In the church, you'll never have enough money to hire the people you need to do ministry. The temptation is always to hire the person who is getting it done, but you really need to hire the people who can more capable of building the team.

3. Whenever possible, hire from within your church. They're more likely to embrace the vision, values and strategy of your church. You'll probably also have a better sense of how they'll fit with your existing team.

4. But don't assume the inside person is the best person. I've witnessed plenty of inside hires that didn't work out. Outsiders may be helpful when you need a shift in philosophy or strategy. Outsiders may be helpful when you need experienced leadership. Outsiders may be helpful when you need a specialized skill. You have to weigh every situation and role individually to discern the right next hire.

5. Include multiple voices in the selection process. Include supervisors, peers and folks that will serve under the new person. If it's a specialized skill, invite leaders from other churches to participate in the interviews. You might ultimately be the person who makes the hire, but it's always better to have other people interact with the candidate to determine if there are any red flags.

6. Revisit your structure on a regular basis. This applies whether you are growing, declining or plateaued. In times of significant growth, you may need to do this every year or two.

7. You have to get the "right" people in the "right" roles. And this will change over time. God designed the body of Christ to embrace spiritual gifts to fulfill our mission. Any time we have people operating outside of their gift mix, we are minimizing the potential ministry impact.

8. Pay close attention to chemistry and connection with your vision and strategy. This is huge. It's very unlikely that you'll ever have to fire someone because they don't have the capacity to get the job done. If you have to let someone go, it's more likely to happen because they don't fit with the rest of the team or they don't embrace your vision and strategy.

9. Maintain a healthy staffing ratio. Try to target one full-time equivalent staff member for every 100 people who attend your church. That includes pastors, directors, housekeeping, administrative assistants and anyone else you pay. To calculate full-time equivalents, add up the total hours that your part-time staff works each week and divide by 40. Then add that number to the number of full-time staff. Trying to maintain this ratio will force you to think volunteers before staff.

10. Pray and listen. You'd think this one would be a given, but I'm amazed at how many times leaders downplay Holy Spirit promptings, gut feelings, that voice in your head or however you want to describe that sense that someone is or isn't the right fit. Pay attention to those checks that cause you to second-guess. Again, this is why it's so important to have others involved in the process to help discern the intangibles.

That's my list. Based on your experience, what would you add or subtract from this list?

(Tony originally prepared this article for Catalyst Monthly. It's appeared here before, but has received so much traffic, we decided to post it again. If you'd like to reach out to Tony directly, you can contact him at tony@vanderbloemensearch.com)