Church Planting Tools: How To Build An Effective HR Strategy


If you’re thinking about planting a church or in the beginning stages of planting one, chances are you are much more excited about the mission of the church and the people you are going to reach for Jesus than you are about setting up the operational nuts and bolts of the organization.  There are a lot of Human Resources decisions you will have to make, and while that aspect of planting a church may seem very dry and “business-y,” be encouraged!  Having a clear vision and strategic plan for your church’s HR process, even at (or especially at) the beginning, will contribute to the longevity, sustainability, health, mission, and success of your church in the long run.  Here are some important questions to aid you in setting up a wise and strategic HR plan for your new church.

Recruiting and Hiring

What roles do you need to begin the planning of the church?  What roles will you need to add to the team to launch the church?  What roles will you need one year down the road?  Two?  Five?  Ten?  Which roles take hiring priority?  From day one, you should have a plan for what roles you will need to hire and when.  Have you created a strategy and process for recruiting and hiring talent to take your organization to each next level?  How will you hire for culture fit?

At Vanderbloemen, we’ve also seen that one of the most important questions churches should ask themselves is: Do we possess the balance of having both a charismatic leader and an administrative executive?  To balance the health of the organization, every church plant needs the person with the vision AND needs the person with the nuts and bolts know-how who can set up and implement the operational strategy.  And it’s extremely important that these two people work exceptionally well with each other and complement one another’s strengths. If you’re more of the “vision” person, make sure you are hiring a person who knows how to be a strategic developer of your vision.


Once you have a plan identifying the roles you need to hire and when, what will their salaries be?  Have you done your research on compensation for the roles you are looking to hire?  Vanderbloemen offerscompensation analyses for established organizations that are seeking realistic benchmarks for pay of their employees, but even without a formal compensation analysis, there is a lot of information available online to get a good idea of salary ranges.  Also, keep in mind that the salary range may shift depending on cost of living in your area, the experience of the person you are recruiting, and the current salary of the potential candidate.

We understand that there can be a lot of unknowns in setting up a budget for a church plant. Many people are okay with making a “missionary salary” for a while because they believe in the vision and mission of the church, but it is very important to still pay a livable wage and do what you can to encourage financial health in your team members.  We here at Vanderbloemen are big believers in Dave Ramesy’s Financial Peace University and the belief that encouraging financial health in your staff (and church!) will reap great benefits for your organization and its reach in the long run.  Perhaps you could offer to pay for Financial Peace University for your team members to this end.

If it’s necessary to pay on the low end of a salary range for a while, you might consider a pay structure with a low (but livable!) base salary with competitive bonuses.  This structure can work well in the ministry world as well as the business world.  Set stretching but attainable, agreed-upon goal with your new team members and the bonus structure for them meeting the goals.  Your team members are invested in the growth of the church, so setting goals can further add to the effective circle of hard work -> organization growth -> happy team -> hard work.

Additional Benefits

Even if your church plant staff members are paid a “missionary salary” for a while, there are many non-monetary rewards and benefits you can/need to think about offering.  First and foremost, if you’re planning to recruit team members who have families, you will need to offer health insurance.  Think strategically about the different plans available and what would make the most sense for your organization and team.  Will you offer a 401K to your employees or an HSA/HRA plan?  Can you offer to pay for health club memberships (which could in turn help decrease your health insurance costs) or childcare?  Think creatively about the benefits you can offer to encourage the stewardship and quality of life for your team, and remember that from day one of your church launch, these things need to be configured in your operations overhead cost.

Four Crucial Questions

In each and every Human Resources decision you make for your church, ask yourself these four questions:

1.  Is it in line with the vision?  Will it help your team fulfill your church’s mission, directly or indirectly?  Does it reflect your stated values?

2.  Is it strategic?  Is it part of a well thought-out plan that will help meet both the short-term and long-term goals of the church?

3.  Is it cost-effective?  Does it fit into the budget?  Does it demonstrate good stewardship of your resources?

4.  Is it realistic?  Is it do-able?  Is it sustainable? 

When Jesus sent the apostles out to make disciples, he said to them, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).  Setting up and implementing a shrewd and strategic HR plan for your new church is not an unspiritual aspect or an afterthought, it’s part of being “wise as serpents.”  In short, it’s a significant element of effective Kingdom work.

For more resources on church planting, check out 100 Excellent Organizations and Websites for Church Planting.

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