Church staff teams are often like cities that have sprung up in the desert with no planning. Many churches are carrying people on their church staff teams that they would not hire again today. But who should you add to your church staff team? Only three kinds of people should make it through your hiring process.
This staffing principle applies if you have one paid person on your staff team. It also applies to ten or even twenty paid staff. Regardless of team size, there are only three kinds of people that should be on a paid church staff.
Better Than You Team Members
The ideal team member is better than you at something. (I am writing this from the perspective of a lead pastor or team)
Examples of this include:
- Better than you at leading Worship
- Better than you at Administration
- Better than you at Children’s Ministry
- Better than you at Groups
Assemble a staff team with people that are better than you in the area that they are leading. Your goal in church staffing is not to hire people that simply carry out your vision. Jim Collins calls this “The genius with a thousand helpers” model of leadership. If you are the genius and everyone else on your team exists to carry out your incredible vision, I can pretty much guarantee that you have a weak team. Strong leaders will never stay in a “Genius with a thousand helpers” system. You should not be the smartest or most skilled person on your team. Your staffing goal is to train and assemble a team of leaders that are more skilled than you in various roles. Once you have built this team, establish guidelines, and let them run.
On The Way Team Members
A second person valuable team member is a person that is “On the Way” to being more skilled than you in the area that she leads.
We can’t always hire seasoned veterans (Nor do we even want to). I love hiring a person and seeing him grow into a role and then grow past me. However, if I cannot get a person ahead of me within a couple of years, he should not be on my team. The key with an “On the Way” staff member is to lead and guide him until he is ahead of you. Don’t be afraid of closely managing and guiding these team members. You should not release a person to make critical decisions alone until she is close to passing you in her role. You are also wise to provide coaching and training for high potential “On the way” staff members.
Support Team Members
Churches with several paid pastors and minimal support staff members are wasting resources and the gifting of people. Some churches boast about how they have no admin staff and that their pastors are humble enough do their own admin work. This is sheer folly! Why pay someone $40 an hour to do $15 an hour work? I have previously argued that the first person that you should hire after a lead pastor is an admin assistant. You should have at least one full-time admin for every two full-time pastors. Beyond “Better Than You” team members and “On the Way” team members you need admin support on your team.
The only three kinds of people that should be on a paid church staff are Better than You team members, On the Way Team members, and Support Team Members. Do you have anyone else on your team? If so, it may be time to make some changes.