categories: church, culture, leadership, team
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July 28th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

16 comments (+ Add)

The Down-side of Hiring From Within

Although there are many advantages of hiring staff from within the church, there are some potential challenges as well. Here is my short list:

  1. They often have limited ministry experience. Even though they are gifted and passionate, it is still a big step to move from corporate life to ministry life. Those from other churches likely have experience preaching, visiting the sick, officiating funerals or weddings, etc. Those from within are often very “green” and generally need a lot of development in ministry basics.
  2. If it doesn’t work out, it is generally more painful for everyone. If you hire from within, chances are you did so because you know and love the person. If they don’t succeed, moving or removing them can be costly on many levels.
  3. It can be hard on families. Because the rhythms and schedule of local church ministry are so unusual, those transitioning from the business world to ministry often struggle. The differences can be especially hard on spouses and children.

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  1. 1Randy Mellichamp
    Jul 28, 2009 at 6:57 am

    We have felt the downside of hiring from within. The problem is that if it is a non-ministerial staff (secretary, custodian) there is no off time. People still look at them on Sundays and ask them to do something, not seeming to care that they are there to worship that day not work.

    The problem we’ve experienced with ministerial staff is that the bar is set pretty high and comes crashing down hard when it is not exceeded. I am trying to change that culture but it is difficult.

    I still agree with hiring from within but there needs to be alot of conversation with the person and church along the process to discuss what the expectations are and lace the whole process with love. But that is vital for a non church member too.

  2. Jul 28, 2009 at 8:14 am

    this weeks blog is extremely helpful. thanks for sharing on this!

  3. Jul 28, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Another downside I thought of when hiring from within.

    The staff member hired from within may not feel the “good pressure” to succeed like someone who comes in from the outside. Familiarity breeds contempt at times. Being comfortable around the current staff can cause some people to think everyone is their buddy and my friends will excuse my lack of progress.

  4. Jul 28, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Within the past year we had searched for a youth pastor and hired one. We did not really extend our church at all and the guy we hired was a life long friend of mine. Things did not work out with this position and him and it was the toughest process I have ever had to walk through in my life as we had to move forward and he had to move on. In retrospect he had all the right ingredients but we were very narrow sighted and should have simply included him in a state or national search and prayed much more through the process.



  5. Jul 28, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Looks like a spoke too soon with my comment yesterday. I agree with the “If it doesn’t work out, it is generally more painful for everyone.” As a band leader, when bringing someone up, if it doesn’t work out but are still there they are constantly reminded of it and people will always ask about it. The other thing is that I have had to deal with is that person not really being able to think outside of what they already know and have done for X amount of time.

  6. Jul 28, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I think one of the biggest issues that can arise if you always hire from within is that your church or ministry can become a closed system. It becomes very hard to get fresh eyes or fresh perspective on your systems or ministries. You get in the habit of “We’ve always done it that way.” Sometimes what is most needed is a person with a fresh outside perspective to come in and envision what could be done if we blew it all up and started all over, then how much more effective could we be?

    The “More painful for everyone” point is huge! I have seen that one in action. Where leadership doesn’t want to can a person because of relationship even though they aren’t performing well and getting the job done.

    Some other things are Geographics and Demographics of the area you live may limit what type of people you can find within and may force you to have to look outside.

    Great topic Pastor Craig! I think a lot of churches need to think through their needs as a church and look at the two options strategically.

  7. 8jimmy k
    Jul 28, 2009 at 11:25 am

    When hiring from within there may come a time when a “peek behind the curtian” can create a special challenge. I have found that there is often an expectation from those who come on the team from with in the church that what they have experienced in the ministry of the church will be the same experience they will have on staff except better. Instead they get to see how the sausage is made and some don’t ever get over it. Not unlike a marriage, Mr.or Ms. Right may not be all that you thought once you live with them. They have seen the staff put thier best foot forward and sometimes forget we are all fellow strugglers.

  8. Jul 28, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Some have commented on the downside of not having “fresh eyes”. It’s interesting that Craig, with over 15 years of ministry experience, didn’t mention it. A bigger issue, I think, is whether or not senior leadership is open to change and is constantly implementing change. At one member of the Directional Leadership Team is the Pastor of Innovation. I don’t think change is in danger of being overlooked there. Sometimes “fresh eyes” can be damaging if they are in the head of a 23-year old fresh out of college who thinks he knows it all and is determined to implement his change come you-know-where or high water.

  9. 10Ewald
    Jul 28, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Hi Craig - sorry this comment has nothing to do with your post - this is only way i can have contact with you. We started with the series Elija last week at our Tuesday meetings. Watched the 2nd one tonight. Thank you so much for resources and what lifechurch is doing. It has change so much of what I do and how I see things! South African Buddy

  10. Jul 29, 2009 at 5:19 am

    We’ve seen both the upside and downside of hiring from within. We’ve just gone through the pain of #2 recently. Even though the staff change was a strategic one (eliminating the position), it was still very hard on family and friends of the former staff member. We’ve done everything we can to help the former staff member make the transition but it remains to be seen if he will continue in the church.

    All that said, we still believe in hiring from within.

  11. Jul 29, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Wow ! great stuff my wife & i were considering full time ministry ,being volunteers @ wellington is awesome. We have found that we are right where we are supossed to be, the front line. like paramedics we find the sick & suffering & bring them to Church. “the hospital” then watch God do His stuff. When my wife said i don’t want to be a Pastors wife that pretty much summed it up.We find we are much more effective right where we are,we are still ministering full time regardless and seeing many lives changed.

  12. 13John Ratz
    Jul 29, 2009 at 7:07 am

    One of our past experiences included hiring a new student ministries pastor from within. In the short term the hire seemed a good fit, however, as time went on, it proved to be a poor fit. How to let go of a staff member who has significant family in the church? “Very carefully.”

  13. 14Greg Frohna
    Jul 29, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Limited ministry experience is a bigger deal than I think most people imagine it would be. While a “ministry novice” may have expertise and gifting in a business management role, corporate operating systems, and networking, etc., the calling to ministry is so much more than that. Without the “call” to pastor and serve people, the church can too quickly become designed around a proven business model and not a proven biblical model.

  14. 15txmom4
    Jul 29, 2009 at 8:35 am

    You said ministry can be hard on families!! I’m going on a rant here because this struck a nerve.

    One of our volunteers asked my daughter “how do you like your mom working for the church?” And Anna replied, tears welling up, “I never see my mom.” Our churches preach Biblical priorities from the stage. God first, family second, church third, work fourth. Yet that doesn’t apply to people who work for that church. I can work somewhere else, get paid more, and do ministry for free - starting with my own family. Where’s the incentive to work for the church today?

    Those of us who are called into ministry are doing ministry no matter where we work. So if getting paid to do ministry is harder on my family than getting paid to work for Microsoft, why would I want to do it? I can reach more lost people working at Microsoft than I can working in the church. Where’s the incentive? If the church doesn’t allow your family to come first, why would you work there? Why would you go to church there?

    I’m asking because I know there are a lot of church leaders on this blog, and I see something seriously wrong with our churches in America today. Craig, I apologize for getting so fired up on your blog!!!

  15. Jul 29, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    I think Craig hit on it in his first point, but sometimes hiring a lot of people from business or other professions can make it seem like spiritual depth isn’t valued in the culture. Even though that may not be the case, hiring all rookies and then not helping them get some OTJ spiritual mentoring can inadvertently communicate that being biblically grounded and spiritually mature isn’t important.