The flip side of the pandemic-induced “great resignation” is that many congregations are now hiring. Finding the right person for a job is a complex and important process for any organization. In addition, you may find that staff candidates who have not worked in a congregation before have unrealistic expectations about what it’s like to do vocational ministry. Adhering to time-tested practices gives you a better chance of discerning the candidate God has called to join your team.
A first step in the hiring process is to announce the job opening. A common mistake we make is to create a job description without a clear understanding of how the position fits within the broader vision and mission of the church. Leaders need to be able to inform the candidate in the initial interview why the role is important to the organization and how the position helps the congregation accomplish its goals. Be clear about the role’s connection to the church’s vision before you finalize the job description or interview your first candidate. Can you articulate specific projects or initiatives the new hire will work on?
After the initial interviews, and once you have selected one or two promising candidates, consider hosting informal conversations with your top prospect. A good candidate knows how to prepare for a traditional interview. In less structured conversations, the dialogue is more organic. Use a team approach for this step and always involve key stakeholders in the conversation. Hosting a dinner or lunch gathering often works well. These deliberate conversations provide the space to have a candid dialogue about relevant perspectives on leadership, ministry and theology.
It goes without saying that prayer and group discernment are essential practices in any process that involves hiring someone for ministry. Cast the net widely. Listen deeply to what people say and what they do not say. Hiring well is not easy, but with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we can be confident that we are not taking on this task alone.
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Before you go…
What new roles are you thinking about in your post-pandemic, hybrid-church leadership? Even if you are not hiring professional staff, it may be worth creating a job description for key volunteer positions and establishing a screening process for non-salaried roles.
Whether you are hiring paid staff or recruiting volunteers, do everything you can to prayerfully discern the person whom God has called to serve. If you have hiring success stories to share or comments, you can reach me and the Alban Weekly team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next week, keep leading,
Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity