Pastors' Forum


Staffing Questions

When is it best to add to your staff by promoting from within, and when is it best to go outside and bring someone in? If I do need to hire from without, what are the best channels and avenues through which to seek a qualified staff member? Finally, in bringing someone in from the outside, how do you help that new staff member learn and adapt to the culture of the church?


Pastor Bill Anzevino – Industry, PA

I have discovered that when adding a new staff member, hiring within the church has more advantages than hiring without.

  • The person has grown up under your ministry.
  • You know the person’s character and personality.
  • The person knows your vision and is familiar with your style of ministry.
  • You already know his or her qualifications and heart.
  • You don’t have to help the person adapt to the culture of the church. They are a part of it.
  • You have the advantage of knowing if they have the support of their spouse, if married.

The down side to hiring within would be dealing with the person if he or she didn’t work out.

Obviously, the leading of the Spirit is key to filling positions within the church. Our Administrator was a supervisor at a local steel mill who God called to the ministry before having a Church Administrator was popular. He’s been with us for over 30 years and just as the Holy Ghost said, he’s been a tremendous asset to our church.

If no one in the church is qualified for the position you need to fill, then make sure you follow through on getting as much information as you can on any individual you might consider for the position. Once, we hired outside after getting what we thought was a glowing recommendation from the ministry he served before coming to our church. When things went downhill, we discovered the information we got wasn’t accurate. Needless to say, things didn’t work out and it took time to recover from the situation.

There are pros and cons to both ways. We look within before looking without, if possible. Either way, success comes when people are at the right place, at the right time, with the right heart, doing the right thing.

If you need any further clarification, please feel free to contact me.

Pastor Thom Fields – Kennewick, WA

Staffing is an extremely important issue to deal with. I’m excited to hear from ALL the responders to this one! My first thought is this: When you want to promote your culture, you hire from within. When you want to change your culture, hire from outside your local Body.

Raising up leaders who have some degree of longevity in the House ALWAYS helps promote the culture of your House. When you bring people in from the outside, it’s only natural that they bring culture with them. That isn’t always a negative, but it is always a reality. It is also important to recognize that “true culture” isn’t defined by the statements we have hanging on our walls or catch phrases we remember to use every other sentence when speaking to the general public. True culture can be seen in the “habits” that are demonstrated by our organization; the attitudes that permeate our property when we aren’t really thinking about it. Just remember, what we call procedure is really an organizational habit, and those have great impact on our culture.

There are moments when it is necessary to hire from outside. Nobody else had the skill needed to accomplish the goal or any number of other variables. When that moment comes, I believe there are a few guidelines that help make a wise hire possible. The first is simple: INTERVIEW! Not one. MANY!!! Have numerous people involved in the process. You almost can’t over-do that process. The possible hire should be thinking about quitting before they get hired! Learn as much as possible BEFORE you make the hire! Will this person get along with current staff? Does this individual enjoy our culture and the environment we’re bringing them into? Can they add value in areas beyond the list of responsibilities we’re giving them? It’s easy to hire. It’s HARD to fire!

Another VERY IMPORTANT area to investigate when making any hiring decision that should be considered can be approached with this question: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE IN THE PAST? You’re not looking for where they went to school, who they’ve gotten to know, or how long they were at their last post. The question is, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

I’ve learned there is a major difference between THINKERS and DOERS. We can educate a doer…it’s VERY DIFFICULT to energize a thinker. People who have created teams, organized events, and made great impact are worth investing in. We hire people to GET THINGS DONE…not to know WHAT NEEDS DOING. In my opinion, this is a deal breaker!

When it comes to assimilating a new hire into the culture of our House, we have put together a selection of books to be read and materials that reiterate the values and culture that we are willing to accept. Clarity is the issue. Repetitive communication is your friend. As many meetings as you can get the new hire to participate in, with the understanding that their role is simply to listen and saturate themselves in our culture, is important.

Staying involved in and with the new hire is paramount. Continuing to clarify vision and culture can’t be over emphasized. Letting them know that you’re watching and thinking critically can help them understand that you’re not simply being critical. Also, constant evaluation helps the new hire grasp their role and run with direction.

Pastor Kevin Berry – Lansing, MI

I think it’s best to add staff from within, when possible. We have had both at Mount Hope Church…and both have worked. But there is great value in adding staff from those that have had a long season of working with you, catching your heart and vision, and having the DNA of the church. It takes longer to get the DNA of the church into people that we bring in from the outside. Bill Hybels offered some great insight for what to look for when bringing on new staff from within or outside the church:

  1. Character – The Lord always looks at the heart first. Do they have integrity?
  2. Chemistry – Will they fit with you and the rest of the team?
  3. Competency – Are they capable in their areas of assignment?
  4. Calling – They need to sense that they are called by God to serve you.
  5. Culture – They need to carry the same DNA as the church.

When I need to look outside for a staff member, I call friends that know me. They know what I’m like, what our church organization is like, and who would or would not fit well here.

In helping new hires from the outside adapt to the culture of the church, we first have them go through our leadership training class, Accelerate Leadership. There they will pick up vision, mission, the heart of the church, and practically how we do things. But mostly, you need to invest time in them. I brought somebody from the outside into our team a while back and they only lasted six years. I think it was a frustrating time for him, and at times, for me. In a conversation while he was on his way out to his next assignment, I found out that he had NEVER felt like he was at home in our church. There were things he had never even unpacked when they moved into their new house, because in the back of his mind, he would be moving again soon. Wow… it has to be hard to give your all to a place when you are thinking that you might be leaving any time. The culture here was different from what he was used to. Had I taken more time to invest in him to build some relational equity, it would have made the ride much more enjoyable and fruitful. For me, that was a lesson learned.

Pastor Brian Gobar – St. Cloud, MN

You’re probably aware of the various pitfalls of both hiring from the inside or outside and have considered budget and need, etc.

Personally my question would be — what kind of impact are you looking for? Is it stability to an existing position or sudden impact and momentum from creating a new position?

As you’re probably very aware, a person from the outside can give you a fresh perspective and bring an immediate boost of momentum because they’re new! But there is also the consideration of how long it will take before they understand the culture, vision, and authority structure that exists beyond the organizational chart. A person from the inside knows the heart, vision, and culture of the church, but is also burdened with the status quo as well as how people will receive the person now that their title has changed.

My experience has generally been that hiring from within is going to maintain an area, and hiring from without is going to expand an area. If I’m hiring from within (which is sometimes easier), it’s because I see something in a person that can be developed. Generally hiring from without is recognizing a departmental need.


  • How far will this person take me or the church?
  • Are you hoping they’ll grow into the position (they have potential)?
  • Or, have they pretty much maxed their potential and reached their ceiling?
  • Will they significantly grow the church or area they’re being hired for because they have a proven track record and greater experience?
  • Example: you can pay an existing sound tech and maintain an area or you can hire a person well skilled who could grow the entire tech team.

When I’ve hired from the outside, the best resources have really been networking and asking other pastors what or who they know. There are a lot of online resources available, but when using those you really need to be pretty set in what specifics that you’re looking for. What are your “non-negotiables” (“they have to have __________,” and where are you willing to “get by”? “It’d be nice if they had ______, but I can live without it too”).

Learning the heart, vision, and culture of the church is the most difficult. It takes time, patience, intentionality, and time and patience on the part of the pastor and/or leadership team. Some of the learning curve depends on the willingness of the new person to observe, learn, and embrace a new culture rather than perhaps trying to import old culture to a new organization.