A Critical Factor When Engaging New Staff

The usual things that church leaderships look into when getting a new pastoral staff is his (or her) character, his beliefs vis-à-vis the doctrinal distinctives of the church, and the match between his giftings with the specific role to be filled. Let’s just call them Character, Convictions and Competencies. If these are rated at a good level, the new staff is engaged and then, thrusted upon the Pastor to manage. In some cases, over time, it becomes clear that the new staff cannot work with the Pastor. This could be due to a number of reasons, such as differences in vision and philosophy of ministry, and a fourth “C” element, Chemistry.

This must be avoided. A gifted staff who cannot “flow” with the Pastor is counterproductive.

To pre-empt this, it is critical that the candidate understands and accepts the church’s direction and way of doing ministry. Which, presupposes that the church leadership have already worked out, agreed on and are clear about where the church is going and how it’s going to get there. The potential staff’s recruitment is to help the church meet those goals, not to go cross grain to them. If he does not buy into it, it is suicidal to recruit him. A staff disaster is simply waiting to happen.

Furthermore (and this is hardly ever taken into consideration in most churches), since the vision and philosophy of ministry of the church are largely shaped and communicated by the Pastor, it follows that he should have the determining say in the recruitment of a team member. Another reason is because the Pastor is the primary person who will be relating, working and managing the new staff; not the church leaders. He must feel that he is able to work with the prospective staff and vice-versa.

This does not mean that the Pastor alone has the responsibility and authority to hire and fire. The input and opinions of the other leaders are equally important, but the Pastor should never be pushed to accept a candidate whom he views negatively. To force a staff on the Pastor will inevitably lead to poor staff relationships and poor ministry performances all round; and eventually a crisis in the church when things blow up.

If you are a Pastor, don’t take on a new pastoral staff out of desperation. You have to make sure that he (or she) is a good fit with your team, and with you in particular; that he is able to flow with you. If you are a church leader, don’t compel your Pastor to take on a person whom he has reservations. Finally, if you are a candidate for a pastoral staff position be very certain that you can flow with the Pastor’s vision and philosophy of ministry. If you can’t, then don’t accept the position even if it is offered to you. It will save everyone, including yourself, a lot of headache and heartache.