6 Vital Conversations Before Making a Ministry Hire

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Few dynamics have a greater impact on the success of your ministry than building a great team.

That’s why it is so critical that you get your next hire right. And it all begins by having 6 vital conversations.

1.   The conversation with God
No decision should drive you to your knees in prayer quite like a ministry staffing decision. The entire process must begin and end bathed in prayer.

2.   The conversation with EVERY reference
It’s shocking to me how few leaders pay attention to this hiring essential.

Step 1 is to personally connect by phone with every reference listed.

Step 2 is to understand that because these references are, by definition, biased toward the candidate, you must ask probing questions. Don’t simply say, “Tell me about Joe.” Try something like, “Tell me about a time you saw Joe under great pressure.”

3.   The conversation with the “references of the references”
Conclude every conversation with a reference by asking, “Who else do you know that could give me some more background?”

For example, if you’re hiring a youth pastor you need to somehow drill below the references provided. You need to talk to his previous youth leaders, parents of the kids, etc.

That’s where you’ll find the gold nuggets of truth you’ll need.

4.   The conversation with the previous employer
Assuming the candidate is no longer working at his previous church, you MUST talk to his former senior pastor or supervisor, regardless of whether or not he is listed as a reference.

5.   The conversation with the spouse
Is the candidate married? Guess what; you’re hiring the spouse too.

By that I mean it’s almost impossible to have a successful run in ministry with someone whose marriage is in trouble, or who is not 100% supported by their spouse.

6.   The conversation with the applicant
Now you’re ready to interview the applicant. But you must go well beyond “So, why do you want to work here?” talk. Learn the craft of probing for character traits.

Take them out for lunch and watch how they interact with service staff. Get them to talk about a former employer and listen for signs of respect, or disrespect.

Whatever you do, never short-circuit this process because few dynamics have a greater impact on the success of your ministry than building a great team.

What conversations do you consider to be essential in the hiring process?

the author

Scott Cochrane

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