Seven Steps to Ensure a Good Fit With New Ministerial Staff

by kensneed2 on May 31, 2011

I had an awful dream last night.

I dreamed that I’d taken a part-time position in a church as the youth minister.  The pastor assigned a young lady to get me oriented to my responsibilities.  The first thing she did was to make sure that I had a calendar full of activities for the youth.  Then, she began adding times for parents’ meetings.  Then, she began to let me know about staff meetings and church attendance obligations for other activities and calendar events that the staff was to attend, even though they they had nothing to do with my area of ministry.  By the time I woke up, I was in a cold sweat!    Then I realized I hadn’t been given any keys or an office to work out of.  What a horrible dream!!

I’ve thought about that dream all day, and realized how much of it is what I’ve experienced to some degree.  It just hadn’t happened all at once, though it came close.  The one thing I did in the dream was to challenge that young woman’s perception of what “part-time” meant.  She wasn’t planning my schedule as though it was a part-time responsibility!

What are your staff member’s expectations when they’re interviewed for a position at your church?  From the senior pastor to the children’s minister, or any other responsibility, knowing if their thoughts about the church’s expectations and the other staff member’s expectations are similar helps all get started on a better footing.

How can the church, senior pastor candidate and/or other potential ministers know that everyone will be a good fit?

  • When interviewing a minister for a position with the church, have a written job description.  This clarifies the church’s expectations in a tangible way.
  • Allow for flexibility within reason.  Consider possible alterations to fit his/her personality and work style.
  • Allow time for existing staff to meet and discuss how the various ministries can interact so all can evaluate the possibility of conflicts or, hopefully, how well they can mesh in their efforts.
  • Have sufficient meeting time with relevant church groups, allowing time for questions and answers from the church members and the perspective minister.
  • Allow time for the church as a whole to meet and greet the perspective minister.
  • If the initial visit goes well, make time for a second on-site visit to clarify questions that arise on both party’s part.
  • Be honest with the candidate for the position.  If there are problems in the church, say so!  The positives will surface automatically.  Don’t exaggerate either way.  Enlisting the new staff person needs to include the pluses and minuses so there isn’t any disillusions once they arrive on the field.

The interview process was not a part of my dream.  Maybe because I haven’t always done a good job of interviewing the churches I was being interviewed by.  Next time, I’ll ask a lot more questions!!

Feel like your church has made an error with a staff member you’ve called?  Perhaps the best way to correct the problem is to develop a plan to develop harmony in the staff or get coaching for the offending staff member.  Call me for a free consultation to explore possibilities to get everyone moving in God’s direction with unity.

Ken Sneed, MDiv, MA, LPC , LMFT  E-mail at, or phone 225-773-8883

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