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5 Counterintuitive Truths About Hiring for Church Leadership

You’ve often heard me stress the importance of culture, revenue, and vision in our churches, and our approach to hiring is at the heart of shaping our culture. Let’s explore five counterintuitive truths about hiring that I’ve uncovered through my experiences and coaching other church teams.

1. Judge by the Past, Not by Potential In our line of work, we are naturally inclined towards seeing the potential in people. However, when it comes to hiring, I’ve learned that it’s crucial to focus on what candidates have actually accomplished rather than what they might achieve. This approach reduces the risk of being disappointed by unmet expectations. In interviews, it’s vital to map out a candidate’s past behaviors and achievements to the needs of the role they’re applying for. Ask yourself, “If they replicate their past performance here, would it be a success?” This shift in perspective can lead to more reliable hiring decisions.

2. Enthusiasm is Overrated It’s easy to be charmed by a candidate’s zeal to join our team. However, enthusiasm does not always equate to effectiveness. We must dig deeper and evaluate the substantive skills and real impact a candidate brings. A high energy level can be a great asset, but it’s the combination of passion and proven ability that truly makes a difference. During interviews, look beyond a candidate’s excitement and assess their ability to contribute meaningfully to our goals.

3. Momentum vs. Metamorphosis Deciding between hiring internally and externally can dramatically affect the trajectory of our church’s development. Internal hires often help maintain momentum, sustaining the ongoing operations and preserving the culture. Conversely, external hires can be pivotal when you’re aiming to transform or significantly improve an area. Each hiring decision should be strategic: choose internal candidates to keep the wheels turning smoothly, or bring in fresh external perspectives to catalyze fundamental changes.

4. Hiring Can Hinder Growth It sounds paradoxical, but adding more staff doesn’t always accelerate growth. In fact, it can do the opposite by diminishing volunteer involvement and adding to our operational costs. Remember, every team member should ideally contribute to scaling up our efforts by equipping and empowering volunteers, not just by executing tasks. Reflect on this when considering new hires: Will this person enable more volunteers to engage, or will they fill a role that could be a growth opportunity for a volunteer?

5. Adaptability Over Skill In the dynamic environment of church leadership, the ability to adapt is invaluable. When hiring, prioritize candidates who demonstrate flexibility and a proven track record of adapting to new challenges. The future will likely ask them to handle roles that don’t even exist yet. During the hiring process, explore scenarios with candidates where they’ve had to adjust to significant changes or take on new responsibilities.

These insights into the hiring process are designed to foster stronger, more adaptable teams that align closely with our mission and values. As leaders, we must be intentional and thoughtful in our hiring practices to truly enhance our church’s capacity to thrive and grow.

As we continue to navigate the complexities of church management and leadership, let’s keep these counterintuitive truths in mind to refine our approach and achieve better outcomes. Thanks for tuning in, and here’s to building teams that make a lasting impact!

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.