We’re a team!!!

Recently a church made an offer to a candidate for a sr. level position. At the 11th hour (literally late that night), the candidate contacted the church and asked if his wife could be hired as his assistant.

There was no opening on the admin team – there also hadn’t been any discussion about this throughout the process. The church grew concerned over this candidate’s thinking and how he would handle future leadership decisions if he had been hired. The church rescinded the offer.

What should this guy have done differently?
Should spouses be considered when interviewing for a pastoral position?

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Church Hiring Process – move quickly or lose

We just finished a search for one of the “100 fastest growing” churches in the U.S. (it took 3 weeks from the time we first me the candidate to the time he was offered the position). This is a church that has continued to have ministry success year in and year out. There are a number of reasons this is happening, but one is their ability to move quickly in executing their plans. 

More specifically, when adding staff, the sr. leadership team is very intentional about taking candidates through a deep, rigorous hiring process. What’s interesting is their ability to do this without delaying the process. In fact, I don’t know of a church that has higher standards/qualifications for incoming staff, yet they move much faster than other churches when making a hire. 

Typically, quality candidates don’t last long. WHY? There are very few candidates who have the capacity to lead and thrive in an environment like this (high-level), and when they come available, churches try to snatch them up. Candidates are also looking at how effective and efficient a church is in the hiring process. WHY? The hiring process is a great indicator of how decisions are made and plans executed in the context in which they’ll be working… A question they’ll ask themselves – If the church is slow-moving in the hiring process, then what will it be like when I get there? 

If you’re looking to hire an “A” candidate to add to your staff, develop a streamlined process that will get you ALL the information you need to make a decision and work quickly through that process. 

What is your experience with the hiring process within the church world?

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What is it about the weekend?

As we start our 9th year of business working with churches and pastors, one thing has been very consistent. Week in and week out, there are always more visits to our site www.MinisterSearch.com on Mondays.

I wonder why, after the weekend, staff are checking out what (other) positions are open.

While our business makes money by helping churches fill open positions, our purpose is to help churches and staff find long-lasting ministry relationships not change from job to job. Our desire is to see churches fill new positions because of ministry growth and expansion not because a staff member has left.

Why do you think more church staff look for a new job on Mondays than any other day of the week? And what can be done about that?

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It didn’t work out…WHY????

Recently, it seems I’ve had more conversations with church leaders and staff who are saying things aren’t working out. Meaning, a church hires a new staff member, and within several months or years, they’re saying, “it’s just not a fit.”

Several of the reasons I hear:

  • We don’t fit culturally
  • He can’t do the job
  • The job is different then they said
  • Promises were made that haven’t been kept
  • Differing doctrinal/theological beliefs
  • We’re on different pages
  • There’s a problem with compensation

I could comment on how each of these, and many other s, are unacceptable and unnecessary – they should NEVER come up if the proper prayer, preparation, and screening happen. Before a hire is made, we often hear “He’s the one” or “God’s in this” Yet, after the fact, when we press in on these issues, we almost always find out they weren’t really discussed. Sure, there was some discussion, but rarely was there enough diligence in discussing and processing these types of issues.

Why? One reason is most don’t really enjoy this part of the process. Hard conversations aren’t fun. That’s our job at MinisterSearch, and we don’t really enjoy confronting or challenging, but we have to. And so do you if you’re considering making a new hire or moving your family away from “home.” Other reasons are “That’s not spiritual…” or “That’s too corporate…” – that’s code for “I don’t understand” or “we’ve never done it that way” The list goes on. The bottom line is a significant responsibility to do

If you’re looking to hire or considering making a move to a new position, be diligent! Ask the tough questions, then ask them again of others. It’s much better to find out things aren’t a match before the move…


Coming soon – What does a facebook/MySpace page say about a candidate and their possible “fit?”

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Winning Edge (from Smitty)

My Cousin “Smitty” just sent this to me. So interesting as I was just in a recent conversation with someone else who wanted to start a new venture. Since starting MinisterSearch almost 10 years ago, I’ve had many conversations with people who wanted to start a new business or church or venture. Just about every discussion is filled with great ideas which, I believe, could lead to incredible success. Why do most of these never succeed or never get started? I think it’s simple – the little bit of extra effort isn’t put forth…

(From Smitty) “It has often been said the line which separates winning from losing is as fine as a razor’s edge – and it is (I am talking about winning in a big way and in all areas of your life)

One person “just about” starts a project, the other person starts it.  One individual “almost” completes a task, the other does complete it.  One person sees an opportunity, the other acts on it. One student “nearly” passes the exam, the other does pass it – and although the difference in their marks may be only one percentage point out of a hundred, it’s that one point that makes all the difference.

In 1947, ARMED – the first racehorse in the history of United States’ racing to win over one million dollars in prize money over the duration of his career – had earnings of $761,500.  But the horse which finished second in earnings that same year- a horse which often lost races a mile long by only “a nose” – won only $75,000. Now, if one were to look at their winnings alone, it would appear that ARMED was thirteen times better than his closest competitor. However, when you compare “the times” that were actually registered by those two horses in their races, you discover he really wasn’t even four percent superior!

Think of how your results would change if you improved your performance by just one or two percent.”

If you’re thinking about starting something new, OR if you’re considering giving up… ask yourself if you’ve really given the extra effort that no one else is willing to give.

NEED HELP – call, email, text, tweet, or facebook me – I’d love nothing more than to help you!

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Leadership Development: Capacity (RT)

@joshuawhitehead – XP of @FaithPromise Church in Knoxville just posted an interesting set of questions. His post http://www.joshwhitehead.net/2009/07/27/leadership-development-capacity/ :

“I’ve been struggling with this thought for awhile and decided to throw it out there to you guys: can a leader develop a greater capacity to lead. Let’s start with a dictionary definition of capacity:
Actual or potential ability to perform, yield, or withstand
From my perspective, capacity refers a persons leadership ability and stamina. It answers questions like: How much can the person handle? How many people can they oversee and delegate responsibility to? How much can they work and maintain a healthy balance in life and ministry? How hard can the person work? Leadership capacity is almost difficult to explain.

But each of us knows when we see a person with great leadership capacity. They have the actual ability to perform, and they perform well. However, a lot of people appear to have the potential ability to perform but do not have the capacity. Can their capacity be developed? Can they become a high capacity leader? Or, is this something that is innate – you can’t get better or worse. You are who you are.”

Some quick thoughts from where I sit:
Great questions bro – I think they’ve been pondered for years… my two cents:

Capacity – in a literal sense, I don’t think capacity can be increased. Capacity is, per the definition, that person’s potential. I immediately think of a washing machine (yeah, crazy I know – with 3 kids, I wash a lot of clothes). That washing machine’s capacity is limited to the size of the tub regardless of what I do… its capacity cannot be increased. Now, it’s not near as productive or efficient if I don’t fill it up, but there’s nothing that can be done to increase its capacity. 

I believeleadership capacity is similar – but only in the general sense mentioned above. As Anne (@FlowerDust) stated, capacity is quite subjective to the specific areas in question. Creativity, delegation, vision, empathy, problem solving, administration are just a few of the areas to measure one’s capacity. 

These are some of the areas on which we focus when consulting with church clients – determining the specific requirements NEEDED for each leadership position, then specifying the actual experience verses potential (capacity) the prospective leader has. 

There is so much to this, but a few other points:
-Unfortunately, people don’t come with a small, medium, large capacity labels as washing machines, so determining their capacity is quite challenging. We’ve yet to find a tool, other than their leadership history, to prove that out (and past performance doesn’t always predict future performance – (several years back Hybels interviewed a Harvard dude who spoke to that)).

-I’m interested to know how you’d answer these questions – In what ways does someone “appear” to have the potential ability? How do we measure their potential? – Great questions to ask – I have my thoughts on those but will save for another time.

-If you do have a leader with “high capacity,” you’ve only just begun. They have to be taught, trained, coached, developed… over and over again – Look at professional athletes – millions of dollars are spent drafting “potential” – but how many of them actually become all-stars or pro-bowlers? Professional sports organizations have incredible “farm” systems and training resources to maximize their team potential, but still, many don’t make it. 

So, I think our role is to first understand the VERY specific needs (competencies) for each leadership role, then develop the most productive tools to identify leadership potential, experience, ability, and capacity. And then, create a strategy to develop those very things to best fit the leadership position and the organization.

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One of the challenges churches face when hiring is hiring those we know or hiring from within.

At MinisterSearch, we believe and support hiring from within and try to position our clients to do so. However, all to often we hear stories of failure (“he was a great friend, but he just didn’t get the job done”….”I left my corporate job to serve my church, and now I’m miserable”). One would think that hiring someone we know would be a great idea. And, it is – IF that person is truly qualified for the position. Oftentimes, we assume “God is in it” because of the way the candidate came to us. Since they were referred to us, or we know the same people, or we ran into each other at Starbucks we may think that it is a God ordained encounter. It may be, but it may not be.

Just like we would, hopefully, not marry someone based on the above circumstances, neither should we hire – or allow those circumstances to overshadow our objectivity. So, what do we do?

Don’t consider a “job for a person.” Instead consider the person for the job. To do that, we must FIRST know the duties and responsibilities along with the qualifications for the job. That means write it down, go over with the appropriate decision makers and leaders, and publish it – ALL without considering any particular candidates.

Then, start looking at candidates by first comparing their qualifications to those of the open position.

Bill Hybels wrote about 3 general criteria: Character, Competence, and Chemistry. I believe this is a bit too simplistic, but for this illustration, we’ll use it. Character should go without saying – if the candidate lacks in this area, he’s out of process – probably no argument there. The next may be met with some resistance. My experience has taught me that Competency must come next – not at the expense of Chemistry but as a compliment. What does that mean?

We’ve got to find candidates who are built, wired, gifted, experienced (whatever you want to call it) for the specific job. If a candidate doesn’t have those characteristics, there’s no way they’ll succeed. Even the best chemistry fit will never work if they don’t have the competencies necessary.

I really like the Dallas Cowboys – I believe I would fit in well with the team – I’d get along great with the team and coaches(chemistry), we’ll assume I’ve got the character necessary for the position. I could learn the playbook better than others. However, God did NOT build me to play professional football. I’m not tall enough, fast enough, or strong enough to play professional football. No matter how much time I spent with the team, how many conferences I attended, how many coaches I had, I’m just not made for that. That doesn’t make me a bad person, I’m just not set up to play pro ball…

Getting along well with a team and having the character required to lead in ministry are imperative to making the right hire. They cannot, however, overshadow the importance of making sure the candidate exhibits the appropriate skills and aptitude. Does this take God out of the equation? I think not. In fact, I believe God has provided us the resources to  qualify each candidate on all levels, and I think we should take advantage of these resources to be as responsible as possible.

If you’ve got a real successful hiring and retention rate, you probably don’t need to consider these ideas. If you have had some challenges hiring and/or developing and retaining a successful team, give it some though.


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It doesn’t make any sense

I am so often amazed at God’s love and grace. I can’t see Him or feel Him or (audibly) hear Him, but He is so consistent and loving and caring.

As I went through a challenging time a while back, someone I respect greatly said “buddy, if you’ll just hold on and let God do His thing, it will all work out and you’ll have one more experience to grow your faith.”

At the time, I wasn’t real interested in “holding on.” I wanted relief – answers – freedom from the pain. Well, eventually those came, but not in my time. Interestingly, the fears and concerns I had around the circumstances didn’t come true – things worked ok,  and I was ok.

Little did I know that there were greater challenges ahead. To my surprise, I’ve been  able to get through those too. A big part of overcoming those challenges has been looking back at the times God has come through – saved me – provided for me.

I’m learning, when faced with a situation in which I see no hope, to think back to how God has taken care of me in the past. He has neither left me nor forsaken me. I can gain peace in having faith that He is who He is and will be who He’s always been.

Yes, it sounds silly, and no it doesn’t make any sense – but, all I can say is that’s what’s happened, and I’m great with it!

James 1
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything

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New Article – D CEO magazine


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Are we really trying to reach those who don’t go to church?

I’ve been blessed with such a great job that allows me to travel to and work with churches all over the United States.

Almost every church I see, whether a client or not, has a vision to reach those who don’t attend church. We’ve labeled them with some pretty interesting monikers, some of which aren’t very encouraging: seekers, NON-Christians, the LOST, unsaved, NON-believers, etc… I’ll save my comments on that for another time.

So, we acknowledge our desire to reach these folks, yet I believe our approach may not best support this. What do I mean? Often we talk “church” – in other words, we use words in our sermons or communications or marketing or signage that people who don’t frequent a church wouldn’t understand. For example: I recently attended a church that had a strong emphasis on reaching young people who didn’t attend church. Their music was modern, their dress was very casual… yet, as I got out of my car to try to find the morning event, all I saw was a sign with an arrow on it that had the word “SANCTUARY” in big letters. There are many people out there who have never used the word sanctuary much less knowing what it means.

Another example: we’ll often post times that we have services on our websites and signs outside the church with the word “WORSHIP” next to the start time. This is something those of us who have been to church understand, but it doesn’t make any sense to those who are unfamiliar.

Another area that may need attention is how we communicate from the stage. I think we should really try to consider how the newcomer feels when we make references to scripture or history in a way that could come across as condescending. Instead of saying “we all know the story in the bible where_______” simply say “there’s a story in the bible that speaks to this, it is_________”

I understand we don’t intentionally try to exclude newcomers. I do believe that we need to be very intentional to make them feel welcome and a part of what’s going on. We can do this by always trying to look at things from the first timer’s perspective.

At some time in our life, whether age 8 or 80, we were all newcomers.


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