Developing a Leadership Pipelinepodcaststrategy

Dr. Benji Kelley & George Franco on Building a Team in a Fast Growing Church

Welcome back to another episode of the unSeminary podcast. I’m excited to have you with us today as we chat with Dr. Benji Kelley and George Franco of New Hope Church, which has campuses in the Carolinas and internationally.

The church started in 2002 and has grown greatly since then. They have a home in Durham, North Carolina, with ten campuses. If you were to come to New Hope one Sunday, you would find a warm and welcoming church that loves demonstrating God’s diversity in their congregation.

Today we talk with Benji and George about how they are building their staff team at New Hope.

  • Choose staff on the healthy side of their stories. // At New Hope, they began to notice a trend where there was a high-turnover rate for their staff. After doing some digging, they realized that some of the staff weren’t ready for the demands and responsibilities of full time ministry. As George explains, “Everybody’s got a story. When Pastor Benji’s interviewing people, he can see the redemption happening in people’s lives which is what makes him such an amazing pastor and leader. But sometimes when we hired staff, there were people who weren’t on the healthy side of the story yet.” So this was one of the areas Benji and George began to have honest conversations about, for the health of the larger church.
  • Have candid conversations. // Benji has tried to be intentional from the very beginning, with his staff and with the church, when it comes to being candid and transparent. One of his mottos is to “Move toward the funk.” When potential problems are arising, move toward them and have the hard conversations. As Benji says, “At the end of the day we know 3 things: we love the Lord, we love His church, and we love one another. If you have those 3 things in place, we should be able to talk about everything because we talk about it with respect, with mutual honor, mutual submission to the vision and the church.” Ultimately the staff at New Hope wants Jesus’s church to be beautiful and thrive so they are willing to have those candid conversations.
  • Outside help. // Finding and keeping great staff is one of the top problems churches face. New Hope decided to work with a search firm to help them in hiring staff members. Rather than working with several firms, they wanted to find just one that would really take the time to understand their church’s culture. Not only is the organization they found a good fit, but they also send out a rep to come on the campuses. She’s very aware of the culture of the church, which helps immensely when seeking candidates who would fit within that atmosphere. Culture is the biggest challenge when hiring from outside the church, and so finding that company that will work to fully understand the church’s needs and culture is vital to finding great staff.
  • Hire based on character. // Hiring based on character can be more challenging than one might think in a church. Sometimes there is an assumption from churches that because we’re hiring Christians, character shouldn’t be an issue. Although there are some obvious areas of health and maturity we want staff to possess, we all have those “soft areas” where we can grow. But the question is, will we be teachable and let others speak into those areas? As Benji and George interview potential candidates, they ask specific questions to get a feeling for if these people are open to having someone work on those soft areas with them.

To learn more about New Hope Church at

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Lightning Round

Helpful Tech Tools // Pinterest for campus launching, Logos

Ministries Following // Crossroads Church in Cincinnati

Influential Book // H3 Leadership: Stay Hungry. Be Humble. Always Hustle. by Brad Lomenick, Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture (The High Performance Series) by Mark Miller

Inspiring Leader // Mark Cuban, Brian Tome

What you do for fun // Benji: rides his Harley, hunts and fishes; George: rides his Ducati

Contact //

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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.