Your church is growing, you have a great volunteer team but it may be time to make that leap and hire a few employees.
Hiring employees can be a scary thing for churches because the decision to enter into an employer/employee relationship can impact the church and its ability to fulfill its mission. If the right person is chosen, it can mean getting additional things done, more quickly. However, if the wrong person is hired, it can result in management challenges, frustrations and distraction from focusing on those mission critical objectives.
A mistake many churches make is to hire a faithful member without taking into consideration their skill set, work ethic but more importantly their calling. Very often people get confused about the difference between being called to help a church in a volunteer capacity and the unique calling that comes with being a church employee. Confusing the two can mean hiring the wrong person. This can result in the stressful termination of someone who may be a faithful member and volunteer. These types of situations often result in offense – and don’t always end well. Here’s a great checklist to help you with your next church hire in your ministry.
“But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task” Acts 6:3
There are several things that need to be considered when you are preparing for that new hire:
- Make sure you have an updated job description that defines the explicit skills that are required to perform the job. Take some time to review this document so you are prepared to ask job specific questions.
- If the candidate is a church member, find out what volunteer jobs he/she has held, what discipleship programs they have participated in and their level of commitment to the mission.
- If the hire is to replace a current employee, take some time to consider the person vacating the job and reflect on those characteristics he or she had that enhanced or took away from job performance.
- Study the candidate’s application and resume so you can ask questions about work history and job skills. Specifically, look for what it is that they have done that can help the church fulfill its mission.
- If the person will be hired for a position to answer the telephone, a phone interview might be appropriate to test how well the candidate communicates on the phone.
- Have a list of prepared interview questions and select questions that are appropriate for the job and position level of the candidate. You will more than likely ask a manager different questions than you would a receptionist.
- Set an agenda and use an interview guide to help keep you focused.
It is not always easy to carve out this necessary preparation time, but doing so can have a significant impact on the final outcome of the interview process.
As you filter through resumes look for:
- Job Qualifications – You want to make sure the candidate meets the basic qualifications for the job. If the job requires a college degree, then look at the educational background to see if the candidate can meet those requirements.
- Tenure – This one often gets overlooked. Pay attention to the length of time an employee stays with a job. If a candidate is changing jobs every year or two, it may be an indication of unknown job issues.
- Key Accomplishments – While it is vital to look at formal education, it is also important to look for key accomplishments. Specifically, what did the employee contribute to the organization? A formal education does not necessarily indicate someone’s ability to contribute and create value.
- Red Flags – Look for those things that might be an indication of a poor employment history. Things like gaps in employment, a career that has plateaued or gone backwards, short tenure or having several jobs in a short period of time, or a career path that has taken multiple shifts.
You’ve weeded through the resumes, selected a few candidates to interview and now it’s time to meet them and have a conversation. Make sure you have a list of questions that will help you to determine the candidate’s calling, skillset and ability to meet the job requirements.
Interviewing is a skill that is developed with practice but being prepared for the interview is an important first step. Knowing the right questions to ask is critical to identifying the right person for the job.
The goal of interview questions is to get to know the candidate. This is accomplished by getting them talking, sharing and expressing themselves.
When hiring for a church, there are some foundational characteristics that you want to look for in job candidates:
Spiritual Maturity – Working in a church environment is not always easy, and having a high level of spiritual maturity can help employees deal with the inevitable challenges that come with working for a church.
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,” 1 Peter 2:2
Calling – Working for a church is considered a calling, making it an important to determine who is called to the ministry and who is merely looking for employment. Taking the time to find the person who has been called to do the job will result in the best employee.
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ…” Hebrews 13:20-21
Personal Character – People who work for a church set the standard for behavior and require honesty and integrity.
“He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” 1 Tim 3:7
Faithfulness – Church employees should be loyal to the church and its mission. They should understand that their faithfulness is tied to their ability to support the church mission.
“Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters.” Proverbs 25:13
Skill Set – Employees need to have the aptitude and skills to do the job but they also need to pursue personal development and work toward increased and improved skills.
“Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded.” Exodus 35:10
Submission – Employees need to be able to submit to, and, respect authority. Rebellious employees cause problems, distractions and undue stress.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1
Work Ethic – There are a lot of submissive employees with the right skill set, and even calling, who lack work ethic. Determining someone’s ability to get the job done is important to finding that right person.
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke 16:10
Now let’s go over some possible questions to ask that can help you to identify candidates with these important characteristics.
- Please tell me what makes you interested in working for this church? Calling
- What makes you interested in this particular job? Calling
- What is your understanding of our mission and vision and what we are trying to accomplish? Faithfulness/Calling
- Tell me what you do in your current position? Skill Set
- Tell me about a time you identified an improvement opportunity for your current employer. Work Ethic
- Describe the best boss you’ve ever had. Submission
- Describe the most difficult boss you’ve ever had. Submission/Spiritual Maturity/ Character
- If I called your boss today, how would he describe you as an employee? Work Ethic/Character
- What would your boss say your strengths are? Skill Set
- What did your boss say at your last performance appraisal? Work Ethic/Character
- Tell me about a time when your supervisor coached you on performance. Submission /Spiritual Maturity/Character
- What are your personal growth opportunities? Skill Set/Spiritual Maturity
- What is your personal approach to conflict resolution? Spiritual Maturity/Character
- Tell me about a time you had conflict with a coworker and how you resolved it. Spiritual Maturity/Character
- Can you tell me the different ways you spend time with God? Spiritual Maturity
Being prepared for new hires by reviewing the candidate’s resume and using these interview questions can help to facilitate an effective interview conversation.
However, as important as all of the preparation, screening and interviews are, nothing will help you to identify that God appointed employee like prayer. Make sure you and your team spends time praying for God’s wisdom for every person you hire!
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5
Patricia Lotich is the founder of Smart Church Management, a site devoted to providing free articles, tools and resources for those managing a church operation. Patricia has ten years of Business Administration and Church Operations experience and has a driving passion to help churches fulfill their call by managing the resources God has given them – people, time and money. Follow Patricia on Twitter and Facebook