Church Staffing: Attract And Retain The Best Talent


Hiring has been quiet since 2008, but as the economy begins to recover, the search and competition and the task of church staffing is on the uptick. At our firm, we are seeing a rapid increase in the inquiries for new talent in church staffing positions, and the numbers of searches we are launching are well above those of last year (and even last quarter).

“Where would you absolutely love to work, and what does that place offer that your current job doesn’t?”

While work in the church staffing and ministry world is primarily driven by a sense of God calling people to a position, smart leaders are doing all they can to make sure they are creating a workplace that attracts new talent and retains the best of the current team.

What can the church learn about attracting and keeping talent? Here’s a key question to ask from the staff of The Corporate Executive Board.

“Where would you absolutely love to work, and what does that place offer that your current church staffing culture doesn't?”

Top businesses are always asking that question. They are constantly measuring how attractive they are as an employer. Here are four key questions to consider about your workplace (many thanks to the Corporate Executive Board for spurring on the thought surrounding these questions).

1.     Do you recruit talent with the same vision casting that you recruit people into the Kingdom? When an employer can create congruence between the vision and mission of the church and the recruiting strategy for talent, there’s a much higher likelihood of winning and keeping talent. The best recruiting churches I know have a white hot vision for people far from God. When they recruit staff, they point to the eternal impact that their employment will bring. By the same token, if your church isn’t white hot with vision, don’t promise a big vision to recruits. You’ll lose them fast.

2.     Do the benefits and rewards offered here reflect what the rest of your church staffing culture values? I will never forget getting a Christmas “bonus” from one employer: a really bad processed ham. Pure intentions. Terrible judgment. Too often, employers reward folks in ways that don’t match value. For instance, studies show that most employees under 35 would prefer more flex time over a modest raise. Do you know your church staff? Do you study the team and try to find out what will be a reward they will value?

3.     Are you cheerleading for your ministry to the right audience? Great staff hires happen both from inside and outside the organization. Don’t fall into the trap of only recruiting from one or the other!

4.     Are you measuring your ability to recruit and retain talent in church staffing? I can ask most of my clients what their attendance was for Easter, and I will get answers like, “Somewhere around 10,458,” or “About 1231.” But if I ask those same clients, “What is the average time it takes to fill an open position,” or “How many open positions do you carry on average,” or “what is the average tenure for a new hire from the outside/inside” I get far less precise answers. Really smart hiring groups keep close tabs on these and other key questions. What are you doing to track your data surrounding talent attraction & retention?

People come and people go. God calls people for different times and seasons. But in the middle of a season when hiring is on the uptick, I see smart leaders making real efforts to attract and keep the very best people possible. What are you doing? What have I left out?