In a ministry context, it can be easy to want to appoint a leader into a position quickly. We will feel motivated to move fast based on our needs or their ambitious attitude, for example. There can be such a need that we might skip steps that we would never skip if it were, let’s say a secular business.
If I were hiring for a position in a secular business, I would be very selective before giving a job away. I would vet the candidate by reviewing a resume, I would check their references, consider their history of relative employment, and I would personally interview them with a series of intentional questions.
I believe we should apply a similar structure to our process for appointing leaders in our ministries. We often skip crucial steps because they are volunteers just to be faced with a difficult conversation later on down the road.
When you are considering a volunteer or paid staff for a leadership position, I encourage you to do the following:
The first thing above all is to confirm that this person is called to the position. Wanting it is not the same as called. Being qualified is not the same as being called. Ask them about WHY they want this position. If they don’t mention something about calling, they will eventually burn out doing the job.
Intimacy with The Father is a must for any ministry leader. Ask them about their walk with the Lord. In fact, at Grace Of The Lord Church, we ask our leadership team about this every single month! This ensures that there are no backsliders leading others spiritually.
The greatest gift we can offer the world is our intimacy with God. All the ministry we do should be out of the overflow of God in our lives. Anything less is shallow and dangerous.
Furthermore, one who is not walking closely with God will not be discerning Gods will or taking His direction. That is not the sort of disciple you want reproducing themselves in the lives of others!
Confirm values are aligned
It does NOT go without saying that your prospect has the same vision as you for this ministry. Be clear about what is expected, what the mission is, and what the strategy is to accomplish it. They may not be thinking the same thing you are, so by clarifying up front, you save yourself trouble later.
If the prospect becomes a leader, and then goes in a direction outside of the ministry values you discussed ahead of time, your plan of correction is much simpler. You will have already clearly communicated expectations, and they are the ones not meeting them. If you have failed to communicate expectations, they are justified in pushing back against any changes you want to make after they started their job.
Review the worst case scenario and the most likely scenarios for a time commitment. Be clear about any deadlines involved, or if there is the potential for an unusual or rare demand for their time that is required. Let there be no surprises.
You do not want a leader who is half way invested in the success of the ministry. If this is their calling, they need to prioritize it accordingly. They need to cut out anything that is distracting them from fully investing in this ministry, within reason of course.
If you skip this step, you will be the one filling in for them!
Now you are ready to look into qualifications. Notice how far down on the list this is!
Now you are ready to determine if they need more training, or are ready to go.
- What is their ministry experience?
- What are their spiritual gifts?
- What are their passions?
- What skills do they bring to the table?
- What are their growth areas?
- How teachable are they?
- What does their sabbath day look like?
- How do they identify burn out and how do they prevent against it?
- Ask about who they are making into a disciple relationally, 1 on 1. If they are not making disciples, they are NOT a leader!
The basic job interview questions apply here. Do not skip the interview or assume anything. This creates a great space for dialog and assessment.
It is my conviction to appoint leaders from within our church. I do not hire from outside our church family. I realize that many pastors find their new church vocation by applying to another organization that they are sincerely called by God to transition to. So if that is you, I am not bashing on you.
For us, we look for people to become members of our church first. In other organizations, part of the hiring process requires the candidate to become a member after taking the position. For us, we expect our candidates to be members first and we walk them down our leadership pathway from there. This takes time and requires patience, but it ensures a values alignment and that our leaders have their own skin in the game. They are invested in the success of our church family no matter what. This also helps me to observe their calling and qualifications.
I would much rather identify a gifted, skilled, and interested candidate for leadership in my organization, and then approach them with the opportunity to answer a calling by going full time into vocational ministry than to recruit a stranger from another church. I value loyalty so much that I want to reward our members by giving them every chance to advance in their calling.
Of course I am open for God to do something different, and often, he does make me throw my plans out the window. But for now, this is just how we work.