Adding a person to your staff or your team is one of the most important decisions you will ever make as a leader. The right person can make your team,  whereas the wrong person can break your team. Brian Howard shares three staffing mistakes  a church should avoid. The principles are applicable to the business world as well as the church world.

Originally posed by Brian Howard

Most churches pay their pastors and leaders; some spend a lot of money on a big staff and others less for a small staff. But every church has to decide how best to invest its limited amount of staffing dollars. Who should we hire first?  Second? What kinds of roles should a church be willing to pay for? How might our staffing and budget needs be affected by Covid-19? A wise staffing strategy is vital in order for a church to be most effective.  Start building a solid church staff by avoiding the following three staffing mistakes:

Mistake #1: Failure to create an intentional staffing plan

One of the most important parts of church staffing is creating a plan.  A well thought out plan will help to maximize staffing dollars and help the church avoid unwise hiring decisions. How does a church make a strategic staffing plan?

Start by answering the following questions:

  • Is your church suburban, urban, or rural?  What kind of paid staff do you need in light of this?
  • If you have a lead pastor, where is he gifted and not gifted? What kind of a staff person would best compliment his or her strengths and weaknesses?
  • What opportunities are available to you in your unique ministry context? How might paid staffing help you address these opportunities?
  • Have you maximized volunteers and lay leaders? Where can you empower volunteers rather than adding paid staff?
  • Have you maximized the potential of the staff that you already have?
  • Do you have a ministry plan in place that drives your priorities?
  • What does an ideal staff look like for your church? What will this ideal staff look like as your church grows to 100 people? 250 people? 500 people? 1,000 people?
  • How have your staffing needs changed during Covid-19?
  • How might your budget needs have changed in the Covid-19 era?

Work through these questions and make a staffing plan for your church. Our suggestion is to plan for the next five years and to plan for different stages of growth.  A well-crafted staffing plan is the foundation for avoiding the next two mistakes.

Mistake #2: Hiring a person primarily because he/she is there.

Hiring a person primarily because he/she is present and available can turn out badly. It is possible that the person you need to hire is right in front of you. But we have seen many churches hire a person because of their presence and faithfulness and then realize that their new staff person functioned much more effectively as a lay leader than as a paid staff person. Before hiring anyone, closely look at the staffing plan that you have made.  Resist the urge to hire a person simply because he/she is present. Hire only if the person’s gifts and abilities closely line up with your staffing plan.

Note: There is often a delicate balance between who you think you need and who God has provided. The acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty in the hiring process, though essential, should not cause you not make a premature staffing decision without careful consideration.  More often than not, the faithful person right in front of you is not who you need next.

Mistake #3: Hiring a person only because of his/her character.

A Church leader without character is a disaster for the church. Character, however, is not all that is necessary for a church leader. Scripture makes it clear that God has gifted different people differently. In maximizing our limited staffing resources, we must take giftedness into consideration.  Three things to look for in an ideal staff person are Character, Chemistry, and Competence.  Is the leader’s character proven?  Does he fit with the current team and in the current context well?  Has he shown that he has the ability and giftedness to do what is being asked?  Your leaders must consider these things in order to maximize staffing resources.

Want to build a solid church staff? Avoid these three mistakes