Growing churches need to hire people.

When I was pastoring a growing church plant, our staffing needs always outpaced our budget. That meant it was up to me to prioritize our needs and decide who to hire next.

Should we fill this role now and hold off on that role? Or is that the right hire for us?  If we can only fill one spot now, which one should it be?

If you're leading a growing church, perhaps you need to hire someone. Maybe you need to hire several people. Should you hire a creative arts pastor or is it time to get a full-time student pastor? Should we split the children’s ministry role and hire someone new or do we need a small groups director?

If you’re wrestling through the question of who to hire next, here’s some practical advice.

#1 – Hire to your biggest opportunity, not your biggest pain.

In every organization, we had pains we wanted to eliminate and opportunities we wanted to pursue. If you don't have the resources to do both, I recommend siding with growth.

Sure, it would be nice to have some administrative help, but you might be able to eliminate the pain by outsourcing. Of course, you need someone to take some things off your plate, but it's likely more tasks would take their place.

That's why (in most cases) you should look to hire for growth opportunities, not management.

In Leadership Axioms, Bill Hybles talks about plus side and minus side hires.

In a church, plus side hires will be directly responsible for people coming to church. Plus side hires should result in growth.  For example, a children's pastor should help attract families with children to church.

Minus side hires aren't bad hires, but they don't have a direct line to growth. They may facilitate it, but they don't produce it.  Bookkeepers are minus side people.

What is bringing new people to your church? What ministry has the greatest likelihood of directly inviting people to church?  Put your staff resources there.

#2 – Hire people according to a strategic plan.

Before you add anyone to the team, you need a strong one-page ministry plan.  You need to have a clear purpose, mission, and vision.  You should have a simple and articulated strategy.  You should know where you are going.

We have a one page template (and some coaching on exactly how to do it), inside the Church Fuel program. You can access the training and download the templates instantly as soon as you join.

If you don't have a strategic plan, adding people to the mix will create more confusion. You will hire people in response to a short-term need and then wonder what to do with them when that need is gone. You’ll hire too many generalists who are good people and who can help you, but fail to give them measurable outcomes that truly matter to the entire organization.

Your purpose, mission, strategy and goals should inform who you should hire next.

#3 – Don't hire people to do what volunteers can do.

There will always be more to do than staff to do it.  That's why investing in volunteers and leaders is a wise thing to do.  Before you hire someone, make sure you have maxed out your volunteer leadership development plan.

There are people in your church who are not serving because they haven’t personally been asked.

There are people serving in ineffective ministries that should be recruited to serve in more impactful and more important ministries.

And there are people in your church who would get involved if you had a solid process for recruiting, training and pastoring volunteers.

People in your church have incredible capacity, often more than we give them credit for. They could take on more volunteers roles. They are waiting for the opportunity to lead.

9 times out of 10, a high-capacity volunteer will bring so much more value to the table than a part-time staff member.

#4 – Make sure the role is on firm ground.

Before you bring someone new to the team, you need to make sure your entire organization is set up and prepared for the new person.  There will be meetings, new communication loops, and additional confusion every time you bring in someone new.

Before you hire someone, make sure the position is crystal clear. You need a job profile, describing the kind of person you're looking for. This takes a lot of work. You also need a clear job description, with measurable outcomes built right in.

And before you hire someone, make sure the position is fully funded, not just for a few months with the hope they will “pay for themselves.” Even a plus side hire will take the time to get up to speed and start paying for themselves. Too many churches scrape some money together to hire a part-time person (or a really underpaid and overworked full-time person).  So many times, that person isn't set up for success. The church would have been better off waiting and funding the position at a higher level.