4 Church Hiring Trends Since COVID-19
By: Sarah Robins
Over the past decade, staffing models have been extensively evolving, adapting and learning how to function in a hyper-connected, hyper-online world. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated some of those changes, and has even created new progressions which were previously unanticipated. We here at Vanderbloemen have seen those progressions manifested greatly in church hiring, as well as in the ways individual churches function within the larger Church as a whole.
Within the past 7 years working in executive search, I’ve been able to experience the major and minor shifts in hiring trends here at Vanderbloemen. Being able to serve our clients and walk alongside them throughout the pandemic has given me an opportunity to see first-hand how hiring is changing now.
1. The major shift from in-person to virtual
Most of the work Vanderbloemen typically does is in-person. In fact, one of our 12 differentiators is that in-person makes all the difference. While the pandemic has hindered our ability to work in-person with many clients, one of the interesting trends that I’ve seen is that our work has not slowed down; boards have learned to meet virtually, work remotely, collaborate through documents, and they have kept up in ways we did not expect. Though there is an obvious challenge with the way the pandemic forced us to shift the way we do things, it’s reassuring to know that many church leaders we get to serve remain agile and resilient through it all.
Going virtual has also taught us to ask more significant, deeper, and more probing questions to candidates when interviewing. The inability to really see a candidate face-to-face has taught us to be more creative in our interview questions in order to really get to know them. By doing this, we are able to get to know them better throughout the process.
2. Trends in how staff structures have changed through the pandemic
We have certainly seen an increase in the need for candidates who can do things like communications work, graphic design, and tech/AV in order to keep up with digital demands. But the overall trend that we’ve seen as a need in all roles is candidates that have strong general communication: people can be strong communicators on a pulpit and exhibit growth areas in the way they may be communicating throughout the week. Because of this separation, we need good communication in all aspects. This is a need we are hearing and seeing more of while working with our clients.
In polarizing times, trust is critical for a ministry looking to serve. Learning to build trust by hiring people dedicated to hyper-localizing their ministry and connecting with their communities and teammates has become imperative since the switch from in-person to digital.
3. Trends in the new candidate qualifications
As denominations are shrinking, more and more young people are moving into a non-denominational space. This is a trend that we’ve seen even outside of the pandemic. People are becoming more open to looking outside just a small circle. At the end of the day, we believe that if you’ve seen one church, you’ve seen one church. So if your church is distinctly unique, you will need to find someone who will fit that culture. Figuring out what that looks like and when to look outside of certain circles in order to find the best candidates is a process many churches must go through.
The hiring pool of candidates has taken a major shift throughout the pandemic. Because of this, churches are needing to reassess what they’re looking for in their candidates. Whether it’s broadening the requirements of education and experience or looking outside your theology, it’s worth it to revisit the candidate qualifications for each of your open positions.
4. More ministries looking to use search firms
My team engages on the front end of the search process, talking to pastors, board members, and search committee members taking the leap to hire their next leader. There is a real need and desire for search firms to help for multiple reasons. One of those reasons is time: in dealing with the complications of the pandemic and restructuring entire systems, ministry leaders do not have the capacity to conduct successful churches entirely on their own. Additionally, many ministries adding brand new roles are unsure exactly what they expect or need from their new hire. As turnover continues to trend upward, there are countless qualified job-seekers on the market, and it’s critical to fill those positions with the right person
With there being a wave of transition in this season, many leaders have had a chance to take a step back as ministries are growing and beginning to become more firm following the pandemic.
As churches continue to adapt to the changes we have seen over the last year, as well as the ones that are sure to come, it is important to consider the ways hiring has changed. Hiring cannot be successful today with the same hiring practices used a year, or a few years, ago. In order to best conduct successful searches, churches must continue to understand what their churches truly need in these times, and what search practices will create the best long-term payoffs. The world of hiring has changed drastically in the last 10 years, and it is an honor for us to be able to step in and help in that space.