How to pick a winner

Image: How to pick a winner

Craig Roberts

Recruiting people to serve alongside you in your parish ministry is a daunting task and one that is often time-consuming and emotionally fraught. But there are some things you can do, humanly speaking, to tip the odds in your favour…and there are some even more important things that God will do to bless you and your ministry.

I’m a big believer in investing in the right systems because a robust and proven process should deliver above-average results as a lot of the hard work of planning is done well beforehand. So let me offer a few suggestions as you look to recruit a new leader.   

Be clear on who you are

Get clarity around the vision and mission of your ministry and on your strengths and weaknesses as a team. This will allow you to be purposeful about your recruitment because you’ll know where your new recruit will fit into your team.

Be clear on what you need

Having worked out where you want to be going (“B”), it’s easier to see the path from where you are (“A”), and who you’ll need alongside you as you journey from A to B. Your ministry may be most in need of someone who’s great with teenagers, or younger kids, or seniors. This reflective thinking will ensure you are asking for and seeking the best skill set (or competencies) out of your recruitment task. 

Building on a settled list of competencies, the last thing the world needs is someone just like you (or am I the only person who thinks that about themselves?). What you want is not a clone, but someone who will complement your God-given strengths and weaknesses. Are you more introverted? You may be well served in prioritising a more extroverted applicant. Are you great on big-picture thinking? You may want to consider focussing on a ‘details person’.

Be clear that Jesus is in heaven and Superman doesn't exist

A word of warning. Having framed up your job ad around hard and soft skills, it can be tempting to end up with a shopping list that reads something like:

"Dynamic 20 year old wanted to oversee all youth and children’s ministry in the parish. Must be energetic and spontaneous yet wise and reflective, must have tertiary qualifications, minimum 25 years’ experience with world-famous blog and sermon archive."

Such a person doesn’t exist, so you must be realistic as you ‘go to the market’. Aim high, by all means, but be clear on which attributes and skills are non-negotiables and which you can live without in the right candidate.

Be clear on what will be expected of them

A job description that includes details such as employment type (eg full/part-time, working from home or an office), a meaningful position description (eg SRE Coordinator and Sunday School Convenor), states who the person will report to (eg Senior Minister or Women’s Pastor) and details of remuneration is crucial. It sets out the ‘rules of engagement’ between you and the person you will recruit and taking the time to get this right will avoid all manner of angst down the track. If you don’t have clarity on these matters in the beginning, you’ve got no chance once you’re neck deep in ministry together. If you need assistance, the Sydney Diocesan Secretariat can help you.

Finally, none of that will count for anything if you don’t start with the resources our heavenly Father has made available to each of us:

Pray

Ask the Lord of the harvest to raise up workers for your part of his field – that is a prayer God delights to answer. Ask God to make it crystal clear to you and the other members of the interview panel (You’ve got a few good and godly people lined up for this, right? They’ve all got the clarity we just covered, right?) who is the best candidate for the role you’ve got in mind.

Read

Make sure you’re nurturing your own faith through regular times in God’s Word. The “winner” you’re looking to pick is going to be a leader in your church – so let God’s good Word set the standards of belief and behaviour that you want to see in your team members. If you’ve got a co-worker alongside you who is a person of prayer and of deep gospel convictions, that will trump all manner of hard skills and personality traits. 

At the end of the day, if God could speak through an ass to Balaam, and if he can use a fractured sinner like you and me for his glory, then he definitely can use a godly person who is daily walking with Jesus to help build his church while we await his return.

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