Mission Fit Hiring: How to Ensure You're Hiring for Growth with Shawn Lovejoy

Mission fit hiring

Hiring a new staff member can feel nerve-wracking. Ministries are so purpose-driven and often feel like a family working towards a united cause. Bringing a new person into your current dynamic feels like adding a new family member. There are numerous critical components to look for when bringing on a team member, such as personality, theology-fit, and skill, but what many organizations overlook is mission-fit.

Recently, I went live with my friend Shawn Lovejoy to discuss 4 key components to mission-fit hiring:

  1. Objectively assessing candidate talent
  2. Understanding capacity in ministry
  3. Upcoming rapid turnover in the job market, and
  4. Unique opportunities for revival in this era

1. Objectively assessing candidate talent

The first key to mission-fit hiring is objectively assessing candidate talent. In order to measure someone’s potential fit with a team, it is important to first understand yourself. Many people don’t take time to understand their culture or their own talents. When I was young in ministry, I would hire talented people who ended up just being copies of myself, which wasn’t helpful for organizational growth. It’s critical to understand what you’re gifted at and what you need help with, so that you hire people that can balance out your weaknesses

For example, if you know you’re great at ideating but not execution, it’s smart to hire some task-driven staff that help your vision come to life.

It’s also important to know yourself in order to know who’s going to fit well with you and who is not, as well as to know which candidate traits may drive you crazy and which will help you thrive. Understanding the team dynamics you’re looking for will help you create a checklist for the kind of candidates you need. Ultimately, for a team to thrive, you need people who carbon-copy your culture but don't carbon-copy your talent. 

Ultimately, for a team to thrive, you need people who carbon-copy your culture but don’t carbon-copy your talent.Tweet: Ultimately, for a team to thrive, you need people who carbon-copy your culture, but don’t carbon-copy your talent.

2. Ministry capacity

Turnover is not a bad thing. Even Jesus would serve in one place for a season and then move on to another! It’s important to create a culture where you’re constantly reminding people, with yourself as the prime example, that no one person on the team can be the “lid,” having all ideas start and end with them. Shawn calls it the Steve Jobs Syndrome; when one person is the idea-person and everyone else on the team are just yes-men. When everyone just sits around and waits for the leader to make decisions, rather than being critical thinkers themselves, it limits the organization’s growth. A team needs people with experience, with critical thinking, and with new ideas.

As a leader, it’s crucial to think about what your organization would look like without you at the helm. How do things get done when you’re out of the office? Does your team have enough autonomy to keep the wheels cranking without your guidance and ideation? These kinds of questions allow you as a leader to understand where you might be too much in the weeds of day-to-day operations. Hire people you can trust, that value your mission, so you can rest assured you’re not the only driver of success moving your ministry forward. The truth is, at some point, you will no longer be running your organization or church. That’s why planning for who will come after you is one of the smartest leadership discussions you can have.


Additionally, constantly raising leaders up only from the inside does nothing to help a ministry grow and thrive. Choosing to only raise up new leaders from the inside, rather than bringing in new eyes who can ask questions and raise concerns and criticisms, will result in a ministry becoming stale. You cannot swing too far either way, only hiring outsiders or only raising people from within. It is essential to find a balance of both in order to both maintain culture and pursue new ideas.

3. Rapid turnover in the post-COVID job market

There are a lot of concrete reasons why 2021 and 2022 will be years of immense job turns as a result of COVID. Acceleration of turnover is going to happen and ministries need to accept this and prepare wisely for it. We cannot survive by doing things exactly how they were done before the pandemic, and yet we cannot continue without maintaining some patterns from the past. Take advantage of this opportunity to assess talent, improve culture, and reshuffle the deck.

Ask yourself, what parts of our strategy are necessary to continuing our ministry and staying true to our mission? On the other hand, what do we need to adjust to meet the needs of those we serve? These are critical questions to ask in order to understand what traits and skills you need to hire for in future staff members.

4. Hope for revival

The convergence of the last 20 years of technology combined with this pandemic are the perfect ingredients for a great revival. Every great kingdom breakthrough in history has happened on the heels of great communication breakthroughs. Rome built roads and Paul planted churches. A common Greek language was developed and the New Testament was canonized. The printing press was made and we had reformation. This slice of 50 years could be a renaissance for the church rather than just a crisis. Choose to view this period as Michelangelo and DaVinci days; use this time wisely, and get moving.

Your people are your biggest asset. In ministry, your values drive your purpose, so it’s important for every hire to understand and align with your values. That’s why mission-fit hiring may be more important than any skill or attribute in a candidate. Talent can be taught, but innate passion for what your church or organization seeks to accomplish is invaluable.

At Vanderbloemen, we’ve spent over a decade matching people with their passions at Christian organizations, so we understand how critical mission-fit is for every new hire. If you’re looking to add to your staff, we’d love to walk through that pivotal process with you. As you consider who to hire in this season, check out the top new roles churches are considering. Already ready to begin the search process? We’d love to connect with you to share how we can help you find your key staff.

Shawn is the Founder & CEO of CourageToLead.com. His heart beats for coaching leaders through what keeps them up at night. Shawn has been a successful real estate developer, church planter, megachurch pastor, and successful entrepreneur and leadership coach. CourageToLead.com facilitates leadership growth and organizational health for leaders all around the globe. Check out Shawn here.