categories: culture, leadership, team, working together
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July 27th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

25 comments (+ Add)

The Benefits of Hiring from Within

When building a staff team, you have two basic choices:

  1. Raise up staff from within
  2. Hire from other churches

In the early years of Life Church, we hired almost exclusively from within. Over the years we expanded more to bringing in gifted and godly staff members from other churches or ministries. (85% of our current staff members have come from within our church family.)

This week, I’d love to dialog with you about the benefits and down-sides of each.

Let’s start with the benefits of hiring from within. I’ll list what I think are the big four:

  1. You develop a culture of leadership development. When people see lay people excelling and growing into staff members, it naturally produces a leadership culture. Instead of bringing in the “professionals” from other churches, it promotes equipping and raising the local body.
  2. People already understand your culture. When you bring someone in, it is always questionable whether or not they can catch the spirit and fit into the culture of your ministry.
  3. People are generally more loyal to the vision. Those who come from within are generally more loyal to the vision. Rather than being another rung on their ministry ladder, most who come from within see your ministry as a life calling.
  4. They can bring huge life experience. Those who have been successful in non-ministry roles can bring a wealth of wisdom from their life’s learning into a local church.

There are plenty of more benefits. What are your thoughts?

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there are a total of25
  1. Jul 27, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Better opportunity to really know the character of the person you are hiring.

    They also have a support network of friends and potentially family already around them.

    They would not necessarily have to relocate, unless it’s a multi-campus church. Reduced stress on the family.

  2. 2jimmy k
    Jul 27, 2009 at 7:47 am

    There is a much smoother transition process in developing realtionships with the existing staff. A person from the outside is like the new kid at school. That is an awkward experience no matter how old we are.

  3. Jul 27, 2009 at 8:47 am

    It also makes transitions and exits less traumatic…because if a member of the community stepped up to fill a need but no longer meets the need (context change, life change, etc) while it represents a job change - they are still a part of the community. When someone is hired in and you dismiss them, it ivolves a nearly definite exit from the congregation which has broader family and congregational implications.

    Another benefit - they are there because they are sold on teh mission and already love the church. Compensation and opportunity were not part of the arrival calculation.

    People who have transitioned into ministry have more realistic empathy and street cred with the remaining volunteer ministry team in the church.

  4. Jul 27, 2009 at 9:29 am

    I agree 100% with hiring from within for the reasons stated above but what about the person like myself who is out of a job in ministry and desires to serve again full time and does not necessarily have the time or means to pull into a church a serve in the hope that they will be given the opportunity to be hired as staff.

  5. Jul 27, 2009 at 10:32 am

    I totally understand and agree with what you write in this post, Craig. The only question I have is with the people you hire within. Do you prefer they have experience in other churches prior to coming to your church and later your staff?

    I ask this, because I have served in a handful of churches and organizations that were stuck in ruts of mediocrity, and could’ve used a great deal of fresh blood with fresh ideas and a different perspective.

    If your church is successful and God is working at every turn, I can totally see hiring from withing. But, if your church has gotten lukewarm toward God, and is stagnant, hiring from within will probably keep you where you are.

    What do you think?

  6. Jul 27, 2009 at 10:48 am

    I like the fact that they will already get “It” when it comes to the vision of the church. I also agree that it encourages others in the body to see one of their own excel and minister to the church in a staff role after serving as a lay leader. You can somewhat steer yourself clear of people who might be in ministry for all the wrong reasons.

  7. Jul 27, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Craig,
    I am starting a new church in Murfreesboro,TN. I attemtped to raise up a team before coming here to plant. I found two problems with recruiting.
    1. What’s the pay?
    2. Who else is going?
    Well, there is no pay and somebody has to be the first one to go. We have resolved to disciple people as we go and see who rises to the top as we do life together.

    We have had 4 preview services and 9 saved. No staff yet…I was very encouraged that you started with a small group in a garage! Great Story bro…

  8. Jul 27, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    [...] like the “big guys” and you will reap the benefits Craig lists on his latest blog post: http://swerve.lifechurch.tv/2009/07/27/the-benefits-of-hiring-from-within/ | Coaching Works | July 27th, 2009 | Category: [...]

  9. Jul 27, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Benefits of hiring and developing within we’ve found in Berkeley, Gracepoint Fellowship, are:
    1. Confidence in Character. We’ve seen this leader grow, mature, and have intimate knowledge of his/her character and spiritual maturity.
    2. Their ability to influence and lead a team of people–how they interact, communicate, teach, correct, receive guidance and input–has already been observed and demonstrated.
    3. An important quality which is often undervalued (or not talked about as much) is teachability and correct-ability. Leaders too need to not only receive guidance and instruction, but also be taught and corrected. Being a leader isn’t just “leading” a ministry, it’s also a deep commitment to building a Christlike character and heart as a shepherd and overseer of God’s people. How will this leader receive correction? Does this leader know how to simply be a learner–not just of skills and competencies, but also instruction of the heart and character? What does his/her process of repentance look like? These answers are a little more difficult to ascertain when hiring externally.

    Great article. Thanks!

  10. Jul 27, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Do you think the internet is changing this way of thinking? Through this blog and other lifechurch.tv staff/ministry blogs and twitter updates, the culture/vision is better understood by many more of us than it once may have been.

  11. Jul 27, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I love the idea of hiring from within. Sometimes that seems to be very difficult to do unless you are rather large. But I think my biggest concern with focusing on hiring from within is the up and coming people having the ability to think outside of the culture box that may be all they know. Of course that could be thought through and eliminated if a foreseen problem with the interview process, but if people have only known one way for so long, it seems difficult a lot of the time to get them to be able to think outside of that box.

  12. Jul 27, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    trefaulkner,
    My husband and I started a church in Northwest Arkansas 4 yrs. ago. Our desire was that God would give us people who would get on the bus because of WHO was on it instead of where it was going! He has done that. We were slow to give away titles and let people’s passion and service work them into positions. We started with outside hires, still have a few outside hires, but I have been amazed to see the people that we’ve ended up hiring from within. The bonus? They already live here!

  13. Jul 27, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    I really like Chris Hill’s point. There probably are a lot more people from outside a church familiar with its vision because of the internet. I know I know far more about churches I track online than ones in my town.

    I tend to have faith that God has placed the human resources needed into each body. Maybe it’s just that when we aren’t good stewards of those “talents” they get sent elsewhere. I want to find and develop and leverage all of the potential players possible by not “hogging the ball” so much. I’ve found some stud volunteers right under my nose!

  14. Jul 28, 2009 at 8:13 am

    @Kendra Golden, I talked about “hogging the ball” in my coaching network recently. It’s the leadership trap of “If I don’t do it, then no one will” mentality. When actually, if you do it all, then no one else ever will.

    (sorry to derail this post….back to you, Craig!)

  15. 16Terese
    Jul 28, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Interesting discussion. Does this only apply to pastoral staff or all staff (custodial, sound and lighting technicians, graphics, etc)? Recently at our church there has been a shift to outsourcing non-pastoral positions because there is a concern that if you hire those within to do a job and it is not done up to par, then it is harder to be honest and confront the quality of a job than it is if it is someone you are not in relationship with. Thoughts? Or is this off-track of the discussion at hand?

  16. 17Carrie
    Jul 28, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Terese- Good question. I don’t know all of the situation, but I’ll share my experience. I have people who I love and am in a relationship that critique my work every day (I help write curriculum content for Lifechurch.tv). And I’m glad they do. Because they care for me and our vision, they give constructive criticism that helps the product to be better. They never lower the bar, but they are respectful in their critiques. It takes humility, security in who you are, and a commitment to the vision. But when all those are in place, I have found that it works and the product is always better for it :) I hope this helps.

  17. 18Gary Don Almon
    Jul 28, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Hey Craig, its been awhile good to see how God is blessing your ministry…I’m teaching at Southern Seminary directing the Church Ministry Program and I’m an associate Director for the Center for Youth Ministry. After 23 years in ministry I started teaching pastors and in class and with other colleagues this conversation comes up often. Its not a either or but a “both.” The biblical example is Jesus training the twelve which would be considered “hiring from within” but after the start of the church he relied on the original disciples from within but needed to expand their efforts by recruiting from outside of the originals…Paul is a great example. It still amazes me that we have the bulk of inspired text (NT) from people outside of the original folks. It looks like calling, gifting, need and training are the key ingredients to placing people in the right fit in the right place. Now with all that said it looks like that we should be able to train folks mostly from within but we’ll have to go outside periodically to fulfill God’s calling on our ministries. Your ratio of 85% of staff from within but needing to move outside periodically sounds very healthy. God Bless 2nd peter 1:3-4

  18. 19Terese
    Jul 29, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Thank you, Carrie! I appreciate your insight…spot on!

  19. Jul 29, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Anyone have anything to say about hiring and working with family in the church as staff? I would love to get some insight.

  20. Jul 31, 2009 at 10:15 am

    [...] Groeschel on The benefits of hiring from within, the downside of hiring from within, how to hire from the outside and the disadvantages of hiring [...]

  21. Jul 31, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    [...] The Benefits of Hiring from Within [...]

  22. Oct 18, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Excellent insight..

  23. Mar 21, 2010 at 6:50 am

    This trend was one of the primary reasons for the launch of Rockbridge Seminary - 100% online. I observed this trend of hiring from within at Saddleback Church during the 90’s and realized it would have considerable implications for seminary education. Staff hired from within can’t leave to attend a traditional seminary unless one happens to be nearby. A fully online seminary program is the only way to make seminary accessible.

  24. Mar 21, 2010 at 7:36 am

    [...] Go to Craig Groeschel’s post “The Benefits of Hiring from Within” [...]