In Jim Collins' classic book, Good to Great, he notes the critical, if not obvious, importance of getting the right people in the right roles in the organization. But Collins describes this function as a leadership task.
Simply stated, the leaders in the organization should have both the responsibility and the accountability for hiring their own team. The organization's health depends on it.
Unfortunately in many of our churches, pastors have little input into the hiring of the staff that would report to them. Many times, this role is handled by a search committee, personnel committee or similar group, and the pastor is given little to no involvement in this process.
This approach is fraught with problems. Indeed, this process is often responsible for staff conflict, low morale, and lack of unity in the church.
There are four critical reasons pastors should hire other staff. These same reasons would apply to first level staff hiring their own staff in larger churches.
1. Chemistry. Only when two people spend time together, such as during an interview process, can each of them get an idea if they can work together. I have seen too many disasters where a highly qualified staff person was imposed upon a pastor. Both were competent people. Both were good people. But they just did not have good chemistry. A committee cannot hire the right chemistry without the pastor's involvement
2. Loyalty. There is a natural tendency to have initial loyalty to the person who hired you. Without the pastor's involvement in the selection process, you can only hope that the loyalty will evolve later.
3. Compatibility. Chemistry involves emotional connections. Compatibility involves cognitive connections. Pastors can best determine if prospective staff will be compatible in terms of the mission, theology, and philosophy of ministry. I once had a student minister on staff who was a great person. But our philosophies of ministry were significantly different. If I had been involved in the interview process, I would have asked that question at the onset, and we could have avoided a lot of pain.
4. Accountability. Like the issue of loyalty, a staff person tends to demonstrate accountability to the person or persons who hired him or her. Similarly, pastors may not feel as responsible for the development and success of a staff person if they were not involved in the hiring.
I am not suggesting all churches change their bylaws and processes immediately. I am suggesting, however, if a committee or group is responsible for hiring staff persons, they should involve the pastor greatly in the process. If the pastor feels that the new staff person wasn't "their" choice, problems could arise quickly.
I would love to hear your perspectives on this issue, particularly as it is played out in your churches.
Thom Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.
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