4 Reasons to Leave a Staff Position Vacant

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It’s happened.

A prized member of your church leadership team has told you that they are leaving the staff.

Whatever the reason for the departure, the reality is you now face the daunting task of finding someone to fill this key role.

What is the best thing you can do now?


Absolutely nothing.

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Don’t post an ad, don’t work your network, don’t call around to other churches.

Don’t do a thing.

At least, not right away.

Now is the time to deliberately, purposefully, let the position stay vacant for as excruciatingly long as possible.

Despite every bone in your body screaming to hire someone immediately, effective leaders know that there are at least 4 compelling reasons to let the position remain vacant as long as possible.

1.   Delaying the hire allows you to figure out what you really need
Sometimes the panic to immediately hire a replacement robs you of the chance to analyze how your organization has changed, and how you may now need to completely re-think the former role.

2.   Delaying the hire provides a prayer opportunity for your church
When you have a vacancy on your team you have a golden opportunity to rally your people in prayer.

3.   Delaying the hire allows volunteers to step up
There’s nothing like a gaping hole in leadership to give key volunteers a chance to extend their leadership.

4.   Delaying the hire allows you the maximum opportunity to find the best person
You’re always better off leaving a vacancy for an extended period of time than filling it with the wrong person.

When you have a staff vacancy you will feel an overwhelming urge to make the quickest hire possible. You might even convince yourself that a “less than ideal” candidate is the answer just so you can avoid the pain of a long vacancy in the post.

Resist the urge.

Take your time.

In the long run you’ll be glad you did.

How long do you wait before filling a key post?

the author

Scott Cochrane


  1. Mark, so good to know these thoughts were of some value for you and the team.

    Each word comes out of experience, (usually painful experience!) I’ll never forget one time in my years as executive pastor when there was a key role sitting empty for months. I felt enormous pressure to make a quick hire. A wise elder took me out for coffee and said, “Scott, leaving this spot open is actually benefiting the church in ways you likely can’t see, and won’t see for some time.”

    Praying God will provide the wisdom to enable you to navigate these tricky waters!


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