SUMMER SERIES (Part II): 10 Things to consider when your church is struggling to hire.

You’re offering a competitive salary with great benefits—So where are the applicants?

1. Do you know your market place? A booming economy could be adversely affect your hiring process.

Church hiring is at new highs. It’s no longer a church’s market, it is a candidate’s market. There are so many job opportunities for pastors in the US right now that pastors can afford to be…review

2. Your job post is lazy.

If your job post is lazy, your church has missed arguably the first and most important interaction to acquiring talent: the first…review

3. You aren’t maximizing your networks

The number of applicants you receive does not represent the value of those applicants. I’ve helped some churches hire associate level positions with around 10± applicants and other churches hire executive level roles (i.e. Lead Pastor) who receive 30—40 applicants within the first 10 days of posting. Do some churches pull in 100+ applicants for a role? In mega churches in mega cities with large budgets, yes of course, because applicants are applying to a brand. But for the midsize and small church, what matters is quality of applicants over quantity. The goal shouldn’t be to get endless resumes, it should be to have a job opening that gets you quality respondents...people who really want to work with you.

Like the secular industry, many of the best applicants come through word of mouth. When your church is ready to hire for a new role it’s not only important to maximize all relevant job boards (public postings, seminary job boards, church staffing websites, etc.) but to activate and maximize the immediate and extended networks of your staff and congregation.

Quick wins:

  • Encourage people associated with your church to post the job opening on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

  • Ask the congregation to send emails to their network of friends, extended family, and churches.

  • Have your pastors share the opening with their network of pastors/consultants. Your pastors have a much broader network of fellow pastors and church consultants than they realize (think of all the conferences you attended over the years where you shared contact info, the seminary students you met when training, pastors you’ve worked with on community projects, previous church roles you held, professors you know, etc.). When you compound the effect of word of mouth it will almost always net your church some great candidates— even perhaps a few who were not actively seeking a new job—because they will have heard about your opening from a trusted source.

4. You’re hiring a 2-for-1 role

Chaotic job posts scare talent away. Churches sometimes attempt to hire for a 2-for-1 role for assorted reasons; typically, because their church budget/finances do not afford them the opportunity to hire two roles right now. They have aspirational hiring goals but non-aspirational hiring budgets. As such, they combine two jobs into one with the hope that someday the one job will become two. We don’t think church finances should dictate the roles you hire for but rather the most pressing needs of the church you can afford to meet. A 2-for-1 role is often a short sighted near-term solution that often leaves staff overworked, underpaid and overwhelmed.

It’s a red flag if your job post is asking candidates to do two jobs when you can really only support them to do one.

2-for-1’s Red Flags:

  • Your church is likely on the financial struggle bus.

  • Your leadership isn’t quite sure what they need to focus on next to accomplish their vision (i.e. Missional—outward focus VS Care—inward focus).

  • 50% effectiveness in an area of ministry is an acceptable standard of excellence in your church.

  • You’re willing to burn out your pastors as long as they accomplish the mission of the church.

  • A lack of faith…that one step in a ministries life-cycle will not lead to the next.

2-for-1 Job Posts limit your talent pool because:

  • Very few can effectively do two jobs well…and seasoned pastors know it. Great pastors that have been in ministry for any number of years are healthy physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. They remain this way because they have learned to fiercely manage their time, talent, and energy whilst intentionally giving their life away so that it might have impact.

  • In an age of specialization, very few pastors are a triple threat (i.e. Preach, Sing, Act). If you require applicants be a Missional/Worship Pastor (2-for-1) then you automatically eliminate introverted worship pastors and musically challenged missional pastors. One may be able to fill a room with the presence of the HS, whilst the other can gather hordes of people and teach the word in new and innovative ways, but neither can be the other. Job seekers with the talent that you need will skip the posting based on a secondary job they don’t want or can’t do.

If you absolutely have to do a 2 for 1 job post you can:

  1. Hire for the role your church needs most (80%-90%) and make 10-20% of the job related to another ministry area. The 20% should be considered ministry relief with a clear plan/vision for handing this role off in 1-2 years.

  2. Preface the 20% as ideal but not required for applicants. You don’t want to miss out on talent just because God has not built them to perform the 20%.

  3. Hire for one role and immediately cast vision for the next. Be proactive. Write the updated job post and write the date you will post it. Share with your team and church so that they will pray for the provision. Vision casts restraint and a longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul.