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Three Essential Staff Hires

One of the key challenges with any organization is finding and staffing the best talent. Churches are not unique among organizations even though they have different staffing needs. There are some essential positions that need to be filled and, for many churches, finding the right staff member for these positions can make or break a ministry area.

As I’ve been talking with other ministers and staffing professionals, we’ve noticed that there are three specific positions that are needed in churches. Maybe if we were to title this a bit more provocatively, we’d say they are the Three Fastest Growing Staff Positions.

In short, these three positions (possibly in order of need):

  1. Worship leader
  2. Children’s Minister
  3. Executive/Administrative Pastor

 

Now, what do we mean here? Well we’re first anticipating that the senior pastor position is filled. A church without a lead pastor (or at least lead communicator) needs to secure that position before anything else. The other three are essential to staffing a growing church.

Worship Leader – more than any other position on staff, the worship leader is of central importance. They are to be the lead worshippers, not superstars or rockstars, not showmen or entertainers. They have the unique calling to lead others into worship and set the tone for a worship service. The skill set required to accomplish that previous sentence is immense, and the calling from God must be just as immense. Yet for a quality, and qualified, worship leader, they are in short supply and great demand. As many of us have seen, the right worship leader can lead us into the holy places of God. The wrong worship leader (even if they have musical talent coming out the ears) can lead us into spiritual wilderness and rob of a church of its greatness. Finding a worship leader who understands they aren’t a rock star and can shoulder the burden of authentic leadership is difficult, but worth every moment of prayer, exploration, and interest.

Children’s Minister – there is nothing more precious in Jesus’ ministry than the children who sat before him and took in his teaching. As he noted in Matthew 19:14, child like faith typifies the earnestness with which we pursue to the Kingdom of God. Having a great children’s minister will help grow the faith of an entire church as the entire family is properly ministered to and reached with the Gospel. For many leaders in new churches, having a great children’s minister is more important than a student/youth pastor. For the one who is called and equipped to minister gently, firmly, and authentically to children and their parents, the pathway for ministry is great. Great children’s ministers understand that their ministry isn’t just to the littlest among us, but also to their parents. They have a platform for instruction unparalleled by almost any in the church, when they minister properly. Just like with worship leaders, children’s minister must be so cautious about their own lives and the lives of the adult volunteers they work with. Jesus words in Matthew 18:6 stand out as one principal text. Yet in the the right hands, a ministry to children grows a church from its youngest to its oldest members with deep roots of firmly planted families.

Executive Pastor – this also includes the administrative pastor role. So many senior pastors of churches have a deep passion for their people but lack the time, or perhaps skill set, to properly look after the daily ministry of a church. Having a quality executive pastor who understand their role is the same as the person who sits in the second chair of the orchestra can help a church and its staff grow and see seasons of faithfulness. Being a senior pastor necessitates involvement in the lives of attenders, members, and staffers. This kind of activity takes time and time devoted here draws away time from administrative and oversight tasks. The executive pastor position provides someone who can, when properly empowered and fully trusted, direct the staff, manage the facilities, align the strategy, and execute the vision at a level that permits the senior pastor to be true under-shepherd to the congregation. It is a challenging position because of the need for a great leader who is willing subordinate themselves publicly to the authority of a senior pastor and upholding the shared vision of the leadership team. This role also requires a refined skill set. Too often the executive pastor can draw their own limelight, but ultimately they must be willing to redirect everything to glorify God.

In all three of these growing staff positions, there are needed skills and even more needed calling. When a young seminarian asks about potential leadership avenues in a church, these are generally the three categories of staff positions I mention if they are uninterested in being a senior, or lead, pastor.

Though just hiring a great staff member won’t grow a church beyond that congregation’s trust in the leadership of the Holy Spirit, it can be a signal of the movement of the Spirit in their midst.

For each of these three positions, there is a growing number of churches looking for individuals who will fulfill these roles. Having great staff members who can impact those in our communities and churches provides a continued basis for growing and thriving churches. These three positions are key staffing positions also reflect the changing nature of ministry in the new century.

So, what staff positions are you looking at hiring? What are key positions in your church that go unfilled but are vitally needed?

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Are All Weeks Equal?

Well, it’s summer and if you live in almost any community around the United States, you’ll have noticed that folks have a tendency to do crazy things like take vacations, or long weekends, or be out of town, and other such activities that decrease their regular, or or less, attendance at our churches.

This isn’t a growing phenomenon by any means.

There is still a school of thought in many churches that we need to count all weeks equally in order to get a picture of how we are doing. Yet when we come into the summer months, and even over certain holidays, we see dramatic downward spirals in attendance as people do, you know, life. Some churches have gotten so frustrated, or maybe just decided not to fight the shift, that they cancel services on any Sunday between Christmas and New Years.

So, when we sit down to evaluate our attendance year, should we count all weeks equally?

Now, I believe counting is important but still believe proper counting is even more important. Granted, while I was in college and then seminary, nobody ever sat us down and talked about “proper counting” or even counting. Not until I was in my first post-seminary church experience did anyone talk with me, and a couple of other guys, about this counting thing. So as a result counting is just out there as this metric that determines a lot but is understood little.

As we lay out my yearly calendars one first step is overlay the local school districts’ calendars to get a picture of when we can anticipate major breaks. Also, we add in holiday weekends (which are usually part of a school’s calendar) and try to get a picture of what our year is going to look like. If we number my weeks, 1 through 52, and compare them to previous years’ weeks to get a picture of what our attendance track might be for the same week of any year. 

There are, out of the 52 weeks of the year, about 30 weeks that are able to show the core metric of our attendance patterns and who is, or is not, connected with our ministry. Depending on our locations (suburban, metro, urban, rural, etc) this might look different, but it seems to me that the primary driver for so much of our church attendance is the local school system’s calendar. So why not harness this to test our movement?

We are left with the primary tracking weeks of:

  • From school year beginning (mid/late August) until Thanksgiving with Labor Day being skipped. (usually 12 weeks)
  • From the Sunday after the first full week of January to Spring Break (mid-March.) (7-9 weeks)
  • Then from the first Sunday after the week following Spring Break until school let’s out for summer break. (about 10 weeks)

This will show how the eb and flow of church attendance measures up to corresponding weeks in the previous years. Is there growth in your primary venues and connection points during this time? Are we seeing guests coming at higher rates as the same time last year? How is children’s and student’s check in looking as compared to corresponding years?

While we shouldn’t buy into the myth of infinite, exponential growth every year (sooner or later life cycle metrics will come into play) we can consider what our in and out looks like.

The goal is to create a tracking model that recognizes that not all weeks are created equal in your calendar year. Some are more important for seeing how things are going than others. Also, some weeks will disproportionately skew the averages if you’re just looking at baseline data with no filter (i.e Christmas and Easter but also mid-July.)

So, how are you tracking your attendance patterns? What weeks work for your setting? Does the school calendar truly have this much influence on what is going on?

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