Hiring Your First Church Staff Member


As a pastor, you deal with a ton of difficult tasks. You’re faced with growing your ministry, leading a congregation, and leading volunteers in places of leadership over your church; not to mention all the administrative tasks you have to take care of on a day-to-day basis. One of these difficult tasks you’ll encounter is hiring your first church staff member.

Tips for Hiring Your First Church Staff Member

First of all, if you are considering hiring your first church staff member – congratulations. Growing a ministry enough to be able to afford hiring a first staff member is a huge accomplishment and a testament to a pastor’s commitment to his or her ministry!

Hiring your first church staff member can be stressful. You’ve grown your congregation enough to afford a new staff member which is exciting, but making the wrong call on who to hire can cause long-time challenges. If you are planning on hiring your first church staff member, here are a few tips:

1) Search for Good Chemistry

Chemistry is important with any job in any industry, but it’s especially important when hiring your very first church staff member. You need to get along well with them, have constructive criticism conversations, and mesh well without taking offense to directional input from each other.

So, what does that mean for the hiring process? Take your time. Talk to a wide variety of candidates. Get to know each applicant’s strengths, weaknesses, and personality so you can better understand what you’re looking for in an employee.

You may have an idea in mind about the type of person you’re looking for before the search begins, but after you start having real conversations with multiple candidates, you’ll notice more areas of potential contention or accordance.

2) Hire from Within

Let’s separate ministry goals from tasks for a second – tasks are the menial day-to-day functions that simply need to be finished by someone regardless of how close they are to the ministry. Ministry goals on the other hand need to be managed by people who are a part of and closely involved with the ministry itself.

Larger churches are often hiring external candidates because they are in search of someone to take over a particular “task”. The ministry’s overall objective and goals remain in the hands of the pastor, elders, and maybe a few others.

But when it comes to hiring your first employee, regardless of what their involvement will be, you want them to be closely involved with your ministry. This ensures they have an understanding of how you operate, what the church dynamic and culture is like, and what the long-term goals are. If possible, we highly recommend you hire your first church staff member from within your ministry.

The best way to hire from within is to look at your own volunteer teams! Volunteers have already demonstrated a commitment and investment to the church without expecting anything in return. Consulting those who are closely involved with your ministry is a great place to start the job search.

3) Don’t Take Hiring Failures Personally

We don’t mean to be a bearer of bad news, but the fact remains – you don’t know what type of employee your closest friend might be. In other words, regardless of how much you do to prevent hiring a bad employee, the possibility is always there.

Obviously, we highly recommend that you go out to eat and get coffee with your candidates, have conversations, and get to know them well before deciding. But in the off chance that things go south later on, don’t blame yourself or take it personally.

Even HR managers agree that finding the “perfect employee” is sort of a matter of luck. You hope that the right person is there at the right time, but it’s not always the case.

4) Train Them and Be Patient

If you’ve grown your own church plant from scratch to a place where you’re ready and able to hire your first church employee, you know quiet a bit. That means the stuff that comes naturally to you isn’t going to come naturally to any employee you hire.

Expect there to be a significant learning curve for anyone you hire. The simple fact that you are working in a smaller ministry means both of you will be wearing a wide array of hats at different times. Give your employee time to adjust and figure out each sector as they work.

Also remember that this is a time for you to work on your own leadership skills. Pay attention to what they’re good and not good at, what inspires them, what makes them feel recognized and cared for, and do your best to train them and be a leader – not just an employer.

Summing It Up

Hiring your first church staff member is an extremely exciting thing! Building a ministry from the ground up to the point where you’re ready to pay an employee is a huge accomplishment. If you are planning on hiring your first employee, make sure you mesh well with them. Spend a ton of time interviewing, talking with, and getting to know them and their goals. If possible, hire from within for sake bringing on someone close to the ministry already. A great place to look is at your own volunteer teams, since they are already committed to your church.

Remember – hiring a great employee isn’t just a matter of “doing it right”; there’s a lot of luck involved as well. If your first hire falls apart for any reason, don’t take it personally. Just remember – do everything you can as a leader to train them effectively, be patient, and lead by example. Good luck with the hiring!

Chris Fleming, Author

About the Author

Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as TAYA, Big Daddy Weave, and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the worship music scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris is the Motion Designer at Motion Worship, helping to create motion background collections and countdowns for our subscribers.

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