An Ultimate Guide to Hiring Church Staff in 2023

The tips in this clear, step-by-step guide will help you build a healthy and motivated team so that your church can move forward in fruitful ministry.

Breeze Church Management

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Your church is growing – that’s fantastic! That growth spurt you’ve been praying for? It’s happening right now! And, as with any type of church growth, there is a need to build a staff team that mirrors the mission, vision, and values of your church. Ready to get started with the hiring process? The tips in this clear, step-by-step guide will help you build a healthy and motivated team so that your church can move forward in fruitful ministry. 

An Overview of Church Staff

What are the Roles and Responsibilities?

Hiring for your church staff isn't just about filling available openings. You're also looking to recruit candidates who fit within your church's culture. You’re looking to build a ministry team, with each individual’s calling and skill-set contributing to your church in a unique way.

Even so, it’s important to clarify details about the position you're looking to fill before diving into the church hiring process. This may seem obvious, but many churches rush past this crucial step. I’ve seen countless job seekers land positions without a clear job description, leading to unnecessary confusion and frustration. I’ve also seen ministry leaders get strung along in the hiring process when they never met the expectations of the role to begin with! If you want to avoid these pitfalls, it's essential to have precise role specifications and job descriptions. Not only does this provide clarity, but it also shows respect to your prospective candidates and saves everyone a lot of future stress.

Why is Hiring Church Staff Important

Overview of the Process

The church hiring process is not as simple as posting an available position and waiting for resumes to come in. The process also includes screening, interviewing, and vetting potential candidates to determine if they match the job description and resonate with the church’s mission and values. The process doesn’t stop after you hire, either. Your church should have a structured onboarding process so that your new hires can integrate into their jobs with ease. Remember, an effective hiring process doesn’t just fill vacancies; is part of the bigger picture of a healthy organizational culture. 

Establishing a Hiring Process for Your Church

Before your church begins hiring for new positions, a comprehensive hiring process needs to be established. This process will help guide your church in reviewing applications, conducting interviews, performing background checks, and making the final decision. 

Qualifying Candidates

Defining Your Ideal Candidate

Every ministry role is different, so your ideal candidate will vary accordingly. Depending on the position for which you are hiring, you should consider each candidate's character, theological education, calling, family life, and understanding of your church culture. For instance, if the role requires some type of theological education, your ideal candidate might hold a seminary degree. If it's a children’s ministry position, the candidate should undoubtedly have a knack for engaging with kids. Clearly defining what you're looking for will streamline your assessment of applicants.

Core Values and Church By-Laws

The global body of Christ is full of diversity, and that means there are countless types of churches and ways of operating. Accordingly, each church community has unique core values and church-by-laws. As you screen your applicants, ensure that your top picks uphold the doctrinal standards of your church. This will help you maintain a supportive and aligned church environment that is unified in its mission and vision. 

Understanding the Church Culture and Family

If your church is open to hiring outside of the congregation, it's essential to ensure candidates have a thorough grasp of your church's ethos. When considering external candidates, make it a priority to offer them resources that explain your church's mission, vision, and core values. You can also organize meetings with key church leaders or long-standing members who can share stories, experiences, and insights about your church’s history and culture. 

Advertising Open Positions

Online Job Postings

To reach a wider audience of potential candidates, consider posting on an online job board. Make sure your job description is brief yet detailed, clearly outlining roles, expectations, and qualifications. While platforms like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Church Staffing are handy, having a dedicated job board on your church’s website can centralize the process. 

A little pro tip: If your church promotes from within the existing ministry teams, you can sidestep the external job boards (which can be expensive). However, if you do decide to post your job online, rest assured that there are plenty of potential candidates out there who might be the perfect fit for your church. 

Reaching Out to Potential Candidates Directly

Sometimes, directly reaching out to your ideal candidates is the best way to fill a role at your church. Your church leaders can reach out to individuals who they believe align with the church’s vision and have the necessary skills and experience, letting them know that their church is seeking a pastor or that they have posted a new position.

Word of Mouth Invitations

Never underestimate the reach of word-of-mouth! Informing your church members about vacancies on staff might lead to a referral for the perfect candidate! There may also be someone in your congregation who matches the job qualifications who you haven’t previously considered. 

Evaluating Candidates Through Interviews and Background Checks

The Interview Process

The interview process is a stage where your hiring team gets to know the candidate better through conversations and performance assessments. Here, questions about experience, skills, and especially spiritual alignment are discussed. This step often involves detailed background checks to confirm the information provided and ensure the safety and integrity of your church community.

Useful Ways To Improve Hiring At Your Church

Determine How much Structure the Hiring Process Should Have

A well-structured hiring process is essential for any organization, and churches are no exception! By having a detailed roadmap from the moment you post the job to the final interview, you can ensure a consistent and fair approach for every candidate. 

This will minimize the chances of missing key steps, and it will ensure your hiring process is in line with your unique church culture. For example, if your church prioritizes prayer, make it a practice to prioritize prayer during the decision-making process. If your church values community, consider holding job interviews on Sundays so your potential hires get a feel for the community they might be joining.

Decide If You are Going to Put More Weight on Skill-Set or Cultural Fit

During the hiring process, you will likely have to strike a balance between a candidate's skills and their fit with the church culture. One side ensures they can do the job well, while the other checks if they align with the church’s values. Both aspects are vital, but you may need to decide which will take precedence if necessary. 

Why Choose a Church Staffing Service?

A church staffing service is a great tool when you're looking to hire. They specialize in finding people who are not only qualified for the job but also align with your church's beliefs and values. One huge benefit of using service is its vast network of candidates. Overall, a staffing service can save you tons of time while finding the right match for your church staff. 

What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Church Staffing Service

Determine Your Needs

Before teaming up with a staffing service, do your homework. Define the job clearly – what duties, experience, and traits are you after? Think about your budget. Look for reviews or ask other churches about the service you're considering. And remember, talk openly with the service about what you want. Good communication sets everyone up to win!

Key Takeaways

  • Start by determining role specifications and job descriptions. 
  • Establish clear hiring guidelines and procedures.
  • Define your ideal candidate before you get started.
  • Utilize various platforms for advertising the positions, or consider working with a staffing service.
  • Conduct comprehensive interviews and background checks.
  • Consider the cultural and spiritual fit of the candidates.


How Much Does It Cost to Hire Through a Church Staffing Service?

When thinking about the cost of hiring through a church staffing service, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. Costs can differ based on the agency's reputation, the complexity of the role you're filling, and how long it takes to fill the role. Some services charge a flat fee, while others might take a percentage of the hired candidate's first-year salary. Make sure you do your research to ensure a staffing service works for you!

How Can I Ensure a Candidate Aligns with Our Church's Doctrine and Beliefs?

The most important thing in a job interview process is transparency on both sides. In interviews, make sure to ask about their beliefs and past church roles, and be honest about where your church stands on specific doctrinal issues. 

What If a Hired Candidate Doesn't Work Out?

If a new hire doesn't fit in, approach the situation kindly. Discuss any issues and try to clarify roles. If things don't get better, refer to any trial periods in your hiring agreement. If you do need to dismiss your candidate, be respectful by offering appropriate severance. 

Church growth is always a cause for celebration! By diving deep into understanding what each role truly needs, getting a grip on the unique culture of your church, and using a thorough process for vetting potential hires, churches can feel secure in their hiring decisions. This isn’t just about filling a role – it’s about advancing your church’s mission with the right people by your side.

For more helpful content, check out Breeze’s list of free resources here

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