Theology Matters: How To Interview For Theological Fit


Hiring for culture-fit, value-fit, and personality-fit is critical when selecting the best candidates to join your team, but it’s challenging to achieve. Ministries have the added element of theology-fit to consider when selecting staff members. You can find plenty of candidates who check off every box when it  comes to experience, skill, and attitude, but a theological division you didn’t ask about during the interview process can quickly turn an excellent hire into a bad hire. Here’s why focusing on theology when hiring is essential to your ministry success.

1. Scripture  -  Theology impacts what we believe to be true of scripture, how we interpret scripture, and how we believe scripture should be applied to our own lives. Our interpretation of scripture is the single most important component making up our theology. It’s essential that your next hire matches your church’s beliefs about scripture and how you teach scripture. Since anyone you hire will be communicating your ministry’s theology internally, externally, or both, it’s essential they align with your theological teachings and messaging. Make sure you are talking to candidates about teaching style and scripture interpretation before you make a hire.

In a case where you want to hire someone with a different viewpoint to expand your church’s theological scope, make sure your goals for that role are clearly communicated to candidates during the interview process and with your staff before bringing this person on board. Thought diversity is great as long as your goals are clear to everyone involved.

2. Relationships  - Your theology also impacts how you conduct relationships. While all Christians seek to love God and love others, the execution and delivery of worship and service varies from person to person and church to church.  What loving others like Jesus means to us depends on how we interpret and understand God’s word. When hiring, it’s important that you find someone who builds relationships in a way that aligns with your ministry.  Ultimately, while Christians share a common goal, how we believe you reach that goal varies. Make sure your next hire’s theology regarding relationships matches your church’s by asking specific questions about how they live out  Christ's love.

3. Mission - Similarly, our theology impacts our mission and focus.  Some churches have a bigger emphasis on evangelism while others are more heavily focused on discipleship. We can all agree we need both of these things, but every church focuses more on their passion points.  What community or service projects do you do?  What ministries do you partner with? What social issues do you focus on? All of these questions matter when deciding on your next hire. 

There may be times you hire a staff member to diversify your ministry focus and introduce a slightly different theology to your congregation. If that’s the case, make sure you communicate to your new hire and your other staff members that you’re intentionally bringing in a new point of view that will focus on different goals. Again, clarity is key when hiring. Whether you're hiring to improve one of your ministry’s current strengths or diversify your reach, ensure everyone involved is on the same page about your goals.

As you seek to hire new staff members that are a theological fit, it is important that you know your own theology and your goals going into the hiring process. Go into the search process with clarity surrounding what you’re looking for out of your new hire and if it’s important for their theology to match that of your church’s or bring a new perspective. It’s also important that you have someone walking alongside you throughout the hiring process who understands your theology and what to look for in candidates.  A second opinion will ensure your church’s goals and values are represented in your new hire.

Find more interview questions to ensure theology-fit when hiring on our Comprehensive List of Interview Questions for Church Staff.

Our VanderDifference: Theology Matters

At Vanderbloemen, “Theology matters” is one of the pillars that differentiates us from other staffing firms. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. With over 1,400 staffing assignments completed, we have completed more searches than anyone else in the staffing industry serving Christian organizations.

We’ve conducted every type of staff transition under the sun and have navigated Christian leadership teams through difficult circumstances including devastating unexpected departures of team members including death and moral failure.

The Vanderbloemen Team has 180+ years of combined experience in Christian leadership, the church, and parachurch world. Because of our team's vast experience, our reach and connections to candidates are intentionally intertwined in our search and candidate sourcing process.

Additionally, we have 16+ Strategic Ministry Partners who are an extension of our team around the globe in complementary services like capital campaigns, stewardship, organizational structure, Christian higher education, and more who are available to advise us and network with us on searches.

Theology matters. If you are looking for someone to guide you through the hiring process to help you find candidates who match your culture, goals, and theology, we would love to walk through this process with you.