Church Growth

Finding the Right Staff for a Ministry

right-staffIt is unusual for a church to grow past a certain size without an appropriate structure. A Church also needs to change the structure every time it reaches another size. You must constantly be changing the structure in line with growth. A key element in the structural change is part-time and full-time staff. Without the right staff a church (or any ministry) seldom reaches its full potential. With that in mind, you would think staffing would be given a serious amount of time and effort.

In most situations this is just not true. Hiring mistakes are made repeatedly and the cost in dollars and momentum are huge. These mistakes are seldom evaluated, usually pasted over and repeated endlessly. How do you ensure you get staffing right the first time? Here are some key steps that are used by successful growing ministries.

  • Objectively evaluate your growth requirements
  • Staff your model – don’t change things to suit potential new staff
  • Be clear about vision and values. They provide the glue that will hold a team together
  • Have a defined contract duration (open-endedness can be a recipe for problems)
  • Develop a profile/description for the position
  • Use an effective application assessment process to ensure a good position fit

The first four of these steps are common sense, even if they may not be common practice, and can be applied easily. The last two require more work. So how should we go about doing this?

1. Describe the role accurately (individually and within its team)
If an individual is finishing up in a specific role (or a new position is being created) it is important to ask how the new person should outwork the role. The best way to do this is to ask others on the team. In some cases this may mean quite a shift can be made in emphasis or the role is completely redesigned (or in some cases merged into other roles).

2. Ensure that the role is designed in an up-to-date and optimal way
Even where there is already a ministry description, this does not mean it is up-to-date with what is required of a new staff person. Using the information gathered in the step above, a ministry description should accurately reflect the main outcomes and describe what skills are necessary in order to be successful.

3. Develop an accurate candidate specification
Using the new and up-to-date ministry description, a candidate specification is a short outline of what is being sought by way of knowledge, experience or competencies to perform well in the position. This may be written as a list of attributes and competencies or as an advertisement that would appeal to an individual who would suit this position. In either case the goal is to include critical needs and/or exclude experience or skills that would have little or no benefit in this position.

4. Design a fit-for-purpose assessment process
With an up-to-date ministry description and candidate specification we need to determine how we want to assess applicants for the position at each stage in the process. At the earliest stages, some applicants may not be eligible for interview (having insufficient qualifications, not enough or too much experience in a particular ministry, etc.) and will need to be screened out. Once this stage has been completed, it is useful to get individuals to complete a questionnaire or profile to determine the relative strength of competencies or position-fit for example. And when you get down to working with just a few individuals you will want to complete face-to-face interviews as well as get applicants to fill in a psychometric profile and a specific aptitude test (if this is necessary).

5. Select the best-fit candidate according to all of the prior steps above
Although it is often tempting to select an applicant on a number of subjective criteria, it is important to ensure that the potential new staff person can perform the role according to the ministry description and selection criteria and who does best in your assessment processes. This decision may therefore override feelings of empathy or familiarity with the applicant (especially when he or she is an internal candidate) but will ensure the best fit for the role.

Colin Noyes
Colin is the Director of ResourceZone International. He is a recognized authority in areas like coaching, leadership development, team building, organizational health and growth. He can be reached at


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About the Editor and Primary Author

Colin Noyes

Colin Noyes is a Brisbane (Australia) based coach and consultant with extensive experience in the areas of organisational health and growth, change management, leadership development, recruiting/staff development and coaching. Read more

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