What is the most important leadership skill in a church? For a pastor of students, kids, worship or a lead pastor to have?
Is it vision casting? Strategizing? Team building? Shepherding?
The choices you make in the recruiting process are, in effect, determining your future. -Darren Hardy
The most important leadership skill in any church is recruiting. Who you surround yourself with, who you put on a team, who you hire, who you make an elder. Nothing else matters or makes more of an impact on the life of your church than this.
You might wonder, isn’t it prayer? Prayer isn’t a leadership skill. Prayer is a Christian skill. Prayer and the Holy Spirit makes or breaks your ministry.
What I’m talking about are the things you as the leader can control and do.
Why does recruiting matter?
Who you place on a team, in roles will decide your success.
When you look at the culture of your church, the people make up the culture. You can’t decide what your culture will be. You can’t sit in a meeting and decide you will be a welcoming, prayer-filled, evangelistic culture. You have to find people with that and put them on your team.
A company consists of one thing, really. If I buy a plane from Boeing, it’ll be exactly the same plane that BA [British Airways] will buy, which will be exactly the same plane that United [Airlines] will buy, exactly the same plane that Air Canada will buy. So what is a company? A company is the people that are working inside that plane, the people that are working on the ground. They’re the people that make up a company. They either make this company exceptional or average. -Sir Richard Branson
The same is true for your church.
Three problems happen in many churches as it pertains to recruiting and hiring:
- Most churches see it as the lead pastors job and only the lead pastors job to recruit. From the stage.
- In hiring, many lead pastors give away too much because they’d rather not read resumes, sit in interviews or talk to references.
- Churches don’t think they can be great so they don’t hire great people.
Both ideas are rampant in churches and are why many churches are mediocre at best.
If you look at any growing, healthy effective church, do you know what you will find? Talented, hard working people who love Jesus. Somehow, they all ended up at the same church.
The answer to the first problem: recruiting is everybody’s job. Whenever I hear someone at Revolution say, “We need more people serving in ____, can you make an announcement from the stage? I know we have a problem. And that problem is not a lack of people.
In fact, the best people to recruit are the people doing it. Not the person getting paid to do it.
There’s something that happens when someone who works with middle school students tells someone else, “I love the chance I get to influence the lives of students. Its my favorite hours of the week. Hey, why don’t you come with me next week and check it out?”
Recruiting in a church is everyone’s responsibility.
The answer to the second problem: the lead pastor has to be more involved in hiring.
In most churches, hiring is done by a committee that the lead pastor might be a part of, but often he has nothing to do with it. This is the biggest mistake churches make and accounts much of the mediocrity in churches.
If you are like me, hiring, reading resumes, doing phone interviews, in person interviews, talking to references, reading personality tests is that last thing you want to do. It is draining, un-exciting and yet the single determinant to what your church will be like. Three years ago we hired a staff member that I didn’t put a lot of effort into. I let others do that and it cost us in people, time, energy, my stress level and money. We lost momentum, families, excitement. This person was on our team for a little over a year and it took us close to 18 months to get back to the level of momentum and size that we were when we hired this person.
Can one person do that?
According to Darren Hardy in The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster: Why Now Is the Time to #Join the Ride, a bad hire can cost a company or church six figures. Now, a church is not a business or all about the money, but if that’s true and I think it’s at least close, that’s incredibly poor stewardship. And that is a spiritual issue.
The third problem is one that many pastors don’t talk about in hushed tones. They would never say it on stage, but when pastors grab coffee together, they talk jealously about the big church down the road and the things they can do that they as a smaller church can’t do. And it all boils down to the people they have. While the jealous pastors would say they can’t hire or recruit great people. They can’t find talented musicians, great kids teachers, passionate student workers, off the charts community group leaders. They would say it is a matter of money, but it boils down to what the pastors think they can do. Most churches don’t think they can be great so they don’t hire great people.
Sadly, in many churches the leaders have succumbed to the myth that only large, cutting edge megachurches can get the best people and they are stuck in the 1990’s when it comes to technology and talent.
How do you find and hire great people?
First, know what you are looking for. If you don’t, you will never find it. If you want someone great, pray for it, look for it, believe you can find that person and you can vision cast that person into your team. Most people make recruiting and hiring mistakes with staff and volunteer positions because they’ll take anybody. Often, this means you will wait to do things as a church because you don’t have the leader yet. That’s okay.
Second, look for talented people. If you are afraid of talented people (and many pastors are because they’re control freaks) then that’s a sin issue on your part. If you have to micro-manage someone, you didn’t find a talented leader, you found a lackey to do your bidding and you don’t want that.
Third, they have great character. You can’t teach character, what someone’s character is, is what it is. Yes, the Holy Spirit can change people, but don’t hire or recruit someone to a key role with that hope and prayer in mind. Character is not a given in a church interview process, don’t assume it.
The best way to check for character is to hire from within your church. When this happens, you know exactly what you are getting. What their marriage is like, how they treat people, their giving and generosity, if they fit, if you like them.
The last thing that matters and this comes best from people within your church, they love your city and your church. Not everyone loves your city or loves the people in your church. You want people who do. There are unique things that make up your city and church and it doesn’t fit everyone. That’s okay. I get nervous when I get the spam email of guys looking for a job anywhere God will send them. My question is, “Where do you feel like God has called you?” Most of the people in the Bible had a place God called them to, not a paycheck, but a people, a city, a place, a neighborhood. Are people looking for that when they send out 100 emails? Yes, but often and I can speak from experience when I was in my 20’s, they are often looking for someone else to the heart and calling work for them.
If God has called you to a city and a people, he will provide for you there.
The reality is great people find other great people and great people want to work with other great people.
Once you find someone great, others follow along. It can be slow and sometimes feels like you are moving backwards or letting momentum slip through your fingers as you try to rebuild a team or restart a culture. But you as the lead hold the keys to building it.