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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

How to Develop Your Church Staff

Staff Glenn Kreun of Saddleback Community Church has over 20 years of ministry experience working with other people in ministry.  At a piece on Pastors.com, Glen gives some good suggestions as to how to develop and work with your staff.  Glenn says...

As I reflect on the years I've been responsible for developing staff, I've concluded there are three very important steps in the process.

First, consider the type of person you want on your staff.
Second, write a job description or position description.
Third, have a thorough interview process.

First, consider the type of person you want to hire.  You'll spend a huge portion of your life around your staff, whether it is large or small.  With that in mind, you need to think about what kind of person you want to interact with on a regular basis.  If you don't enjoy where you work, why would anyone else want to be there?  Why would you want to spend time working with and developing people you do not enjoy being around?  Why would you not want to be friends - even best friends - with the people on your staff? 

At Saddleback we often say, "We take God very seriously; however, we don?t take ourselves seriously at all."  So one of the criteria we use for seeing if someone is a good fit here is: can he make fun of himself?  Can he handle being the brunt of a joke, or does he take himself too seriously? If a person can't laugh at himself, he will not be fun to be around.  If a person takes himself too seriously, he is much more likely to place blame on others rather than accept responsibility for himself.   

Do you enjoy being around your staff?  Are you having fun at work?  If not, I would suggest that you rethink and change your hiring practices.  Church staffs that have fun and stay together - are far more productive and cost the church less money in turnover.

Second, develop the job or position description.  This is your "think time."  It is when you look at the overall church vision, and then look at how a position will help fulfill that mission.  When you do that, you reduce the chances of making a poor hiring choice. 

The time you spend on developing a position description is time well spent. You can't think through all the implications and possibilities of any position, but the more "think time" you put into developing a job description, the better chance you'll find the right person. 

Remember, a person does what he enjoys, not what a job description says, so find the person who enjoys doing the work that you need done.   

Once you know the type of person you want to hire - and have completed the position description, then, and only then, are you ready to begin your job search.

Third, take a look at your interview process. Take time to interview well! Use this time to determine if the person is the 'fun' person you want on your staff.   Determine if the candidate has the passion for the job you have. 

Does the candidate have the leadership ability and experience to take your team to where the church will be in five years?  These are some questions you?ll need to answer during the interview. The interview process is where you allow the candidate to share his life and his story. 

Hear everything the candidate has to say about himself, and do not help him tell his story!  Do not interrupt him. Do not coach him. Do not let him know what you are looking for. Allow him to talk and share.

Then, ask about his accomplishments and passion. Have him share conflict resolution stories, and have him share at least a couple of success stories from his ministry.  Measure his success, not on his standards but on your standards.

Some good advice, Glenn.  I know there will be some that will take issue with Glenn's insistence that we hire 'fun' people; but in reality it is very important that everyone on your staff get along; and yes, be able to have fun.  People who can laugh together work well together.

You can read more of Glenn's article here at Pastors.com now if you like.

FOR DISCUSSION:  Today, I want to take a look a little more at the 'fun' angle of ministry and relationships.  How are you doing as a church staff?  Maybe you're the senior pastor; maybe your an associate... how does your staff interact?  Is it 'fun' to work at your church?  We've all had times in ministry where it was 'fun'... do you find that these times have allowed you to ministry more freely and have better results?

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June 7, 2005 in Personnel Issues | Permalink

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Sir, I do love the Lord and am actively searching to serve him full time. Some how my initial communication was missinterpreted, though I've been involved in nursing home ministy rather extensively I'm afraid I do not have the schooling needed to be actually employed by a Church. Thank you for what you are doing for our Lord. Bernie

Posted by: Bernard Conner | Jun 7, 2005 3:58:04 PM

Wow, Todd. This is either a topic that holds little interest or there are very few people that are experiencing fun, healthy relatioships in ministry. I've seen both.

The best was a staff serving on a staff of 5 full time and 2 part time pastors at a church in Colorado. We had a blast and just about every morning I would say someting like "If the congregation knew how much fun we were having, they wouldn't want to pay us." We were a family and spent lots of time working on our relationships. It was also a time of incredible challenges as we grew from 450 to 800+ in 18 months.

The worst was in the same church after our Senior Pastor was called to a position in a para-church ministry. Our new Senior Pastor was not a good fit with either the church or the staff. He told us early on that relationships were not important and that we needed to keep our interactions "on a professional level." This was also a time of great challenge as we "grew" from 800+ to just under 500 in 12 months. Needless to say, few of the staff survived that pastor's tenure.

Now, in the senior pastor position I'm working hard to establish a healthy and fun atmosphere for staff relationships. I think Glenn's statement "We take God very seriously; however, we don?t take ourselves seriously at all" is a great way to look at staff relationships.


Posted by: Rich Viel | Jun 7, 2005 10:55:17 PM

When my wife and I were dating, one of the things she found a bit amazing (and attractive I must say!) was that not only was I a Christian but I was having FUN! Here is this "fundimentalist, rightwing, Christian wacko" and he's funny and HAVING FUN being a Christian! IMAGINE THAT!
It was Christ's joy in me that led her back to Christ Himself and OH how I thank God for that!
As for me, I've always enjoyed being in ministry. I love building relationships, working with people and seeing them grow in Christ and becoming more involved in serving from the heart. I try to show them that once you get past all the church "junk," serving God is a wonderful, fun thing!
The statement about taking God very serious but not falling into the trap of taking yourself TOO seriously is something that echos in my life. I take my call and service very seriously but I try not to get "up tight" about it. Yet, I always run into those (often in leadership positions) that, because I'm having fun, seem to assume that I'm some sort of spiritual light weight. When I do have a serious moment and share some pearl of ministerial/leadership/spiritual wisdom, they just get the expression of "where'd THAT come from?" That's a moment when my easy smile tightens a bit!
It's when I lose my sense of humor and fun and my smile disappears that people (especially my wonderful wife) recognize that something is wrong. More often than not, it has to do with to much working FOR God (MY strength)and the lack of a close relationship WITH God. (HIS strength)
Of course it's not all peaches-n-cream. We have our share of ministry "war" stories and have a few scars that are still tender and for my part, some of them have been self inflected.
But, all in all, I praise God for the gift of humor and laughter. Time and again it has proven one of His greatest witnessing AND survival "tools" to me.
I do believe that one of the best indicators of a church that's alive in Christ is it's ability to laugh.
Even at itself!
To God be the Glory!
Ben E.

Posted by: Ben E. | Jun 8, 2005 12:05:55 AM

Great topic Todd, I have been in both situations in ministry. Some bad fits and some great ones. The one I am serving in now is the best. It is finally a team effort, each one bringing their experience personalities and gifts to the table to glorify God. We have a lot of fun working together.
Although I have been in situations where the personalities, the approach to ministry just did not fit and after a couple of years it was time to realize that "there ain't no good guys - there ain't no bad guys, its just you and me and we just disagree." We are currently looking for a senior pastor and pray that he will be one that compliments the team and brings something new to the table that will continue to bring us closer to reflecting a New Testament Church.

Posted by: drbob | Jun 8, 2005 11:03:38 AM

Speaking strickly from the Music Minister/Staffer position- They teach us in college how to resolved a chord however they never teach us to resolve dischord with the Pastor. This is the primary reason most Music Men do not last more than 3-5 years at a given location. The Pastor doesn't communicate to the staff and the staff allows him to sit in silence in his ivory tower thinking all is well until they find a more "receptive" place to minister. What is the old addage, "water flows the path of least resistance", so do people! Those who recreate together serve together in more peaceful ways! If the Pastor isn't communicating to his staff and isn't involved in their lives they will drift a- part just like a marriage. Soon the trait follows to the pulpit and the Deacons and the leadership and then the people feel distance between them and their Pastor and soon either he leaves or the congregation does!

Posted by: Rusty | Jun 8, 2005 3:34:55 PM

The question is, "How do we find a perfect fit in an imperfect world?" I've read many things on this topic and what I found to be helpful is some sort of personality test. I know the test I took for my current job seems to be pretty accurate when it comes to tracing elements of personality. The reason I bring this up is because developing staff requires a genuine understanding of each other. Maybe developing people requires letting people be themselves. I can be both very serious and very funny but eliminate both aspects and I'm reduced to half a person. Sometimes we want certain aspects of individuals and not all because it hurts the big picture. If development is the goal here it only makes sense that we want people to be themselves. The more we understand the needs of those who work with us the better we can meet them and thus develop meaningful, exciting, fun, and effective working relationships.

Posted by: Pete King | Jun 8, 2005 5:29:09 PM

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