Staff 2018-03-19T15:17:58+00:00

“Hey Fletch” on Staff Issues

From around the globe, people tune in on Fletch’s warm and sound advice. He’s a friend and “church doctor,” bringing an objective perspective, broad knowledge and vast experience. Your question will get a personal reply from Fletch.

Hiring Church Staff

Friday, April 20, 2018

Hey Fletch … Here in Nigeria I have a question. I would like to know if there are templates on church staff recruitment decision making … like a decision grid.

DRF—I’m not sure that I would use the word ‘template,’ as each church is unique. You want to create a style, or template, that reflects who your church is. Yet, there are many common issues to hiring among churches. To address these common factors, I wrote an article that may help you: A Ten Step Process For Hiring Church Staff. 

Here are the 10 Steps: 1) Send your job description to multiple sources and receive resumes. 2) Respond to each applicant via email within a week. 3) Make an initial phone call to candidates who fit your description and profile. 4) Make a second call to those you are interested in. 5) Check references. 6) First “in person” interview. 7) Have the candidate put his/her thoughts on paper. 8) Second “in person” interview. 9) Bring the interview team together for a final call on the candidate. 10) The hiring lead makes the offer.

You should examine each of the ten steps and see how they fit your situation in Nigeria. Your local church polity and policy may come into play, such as who does the selection and who makes the final decision. I am not an expert on Nigerian culture or the structure of your church … but the principles can help you create a hiring template. 

God’s best to you across the ocean and thanks for writing.

Hurting Pastor in a Jungle of Chaos

Friday, April 6, 2018

Hey Fletch … You know, there’s a lot of material for counseling marriages. There is little out there that I’m aware of for counseling for pastors who take the shots and still have to lead. Managing the mental and emotional jungle when unforeseen chaos hits so close is something most of us have no category for.

DRF—I was thinking through your email and praying for you. Things like what you have described take a huge emotional toll on the pastor. Your board members may see something like this once in a blue moon. You, however, are preaching every week, doing counseling, working with staff … the spiritual weight is enormous.

Make sure that you get at least one day off in seven. God rested after six days of creation and so can you. Take care of your spiritual, physical and emotional health. Unplug. Turn off the smart phone and email after 9 pm. Ask other staff to handle after-hours pastoral emergencies. 

Get away from it all from time to time. The church can live without you while you recharge! Take a vacation or get away to a “pastoral retreat center.” Do an internet search to find a pastor’s retreat near you. I’ve heard great reports on many of these. Your church will love you more when you come back rested and ready for the ongoing challenge of pastoral ministry.

I’ll be praying for you.

I’m a Paid, Professional Christian

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Hey Fletch … I feel like I’m a paid, professional Christian. I work in a church as a pastor and it is feeling like a job. The joy is begging to fade away. Help!

DRF—You are a full-time, vocational Christian leader. Pastoral work can be grueling. Emails and texts come at all hours. Weekends can get eaten up in ministry activities. You are engaged in a spiritual battle of enormous proportions. Huge numbers of people rely on you for guidance, shepherding, leadership and care.

Here’s a suggestion. Find some areas where you can be “John or Jane Doe.” Have some fun in areas where you can be people who are not in your congregation. I like to do this with scuba diving. There is a tight camaraderie among scuba divers. You have to trust and really on your diving partner. Underwater, no one talks to me! I get to enjoy the great world that God created. After the dive, we talk about the recent dive and past dives.

You are paid to be a Christian leader but are not a professional Christian. Enjoy time with people who don’t see you in the church leadership role. It will help bring back “joie de vivre”—exuberant enjoyment of life.

Transition to Ministry after 30 Years in Government Service

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Hey Fletch … Good morning! I am searching for a church that has leadership development as its culture and focus. I just finished a seminary degree in Virginia Beach, VA and am wanting to make a transition to full-time ministry. I have a 30+ year career in government and public service. I’m a little stuck…any advice? I’m willing to relocate for the right opportunity.

DRF—If I understand you correctly, you are looking for a full-time position in leadership development, right? With more than thirty years in government and public service, I am sure that you have plenty of experience in working with organizations and developing people.

There are three ways to find a ministry position. The first is through networking. Perhaps half of all ministry jobs come through the network of your contacts. Developing a solid network takes time. You may want to ask the leaders of your church and your seminary professors for contacts. Talk to those contacts and get secondary, then tertiary contacts. I knew one person who did a several week road trip, talking to his network and their networks. He had three job offers in a couple of months!

The second way of finding a church position is through online job boards. To help folks like you, XPastor has a listing of major job boards and we also have a list of open church leadership positions. Often these leads put you into direct contact with the churches themselves. Make sure that you have a great looking resume. Check out the XPastor page of great resumes for some examples. 

The third way to find a ministry position is through a search firm. Slingshot and Vanderbloemen are the largest firms that help folks find church positions. On the XPastor job boards page, you can find their web addresses. Follow their procedures for sending in your resume and getting connected to their staff. Let me ask Monty Kelso, President of Slingshot, to respond.

Response from Monty Kelso—David is spot on regarding your best options seeking church ministry employment. I would add that the area of ministry that you are pursuing is one of great importance. Everyone is talking about leadership development these days. However, I know that very few churches actually hire executive leadership for the specific focus of leadership development only. In fact, in the eleven years that Slingshot Group has existed, I don’t believe we have ever engaged in a search for this kind of role specifically. 

Even though leadership development is usually expected to be a responsibility of most every director or pastor position, it’s rarely at the top of their job description. And furthermore, few staff leaders have any extra time in their busy work weeks to develop leaders at all, let alone well. 

I wonder if a more hirable role for you to pursue would be something like a “chief of staff?” This is becoming an increasing need in the church. In this role you would be able to build and fuel a staff culture whereby developing leaders (paid and volunteer) becomes more than a good idea, but in fact, an actual reality.

One emerging model for larger churches wanting to build a leadership pipeline includes the building of a residency program. This is where young emerging (and talented) leaders come from all over the country for a one to two year practical ministry experience. The oversight of these young leaders by the church’s full time pastoral and director level staff results in higher level of proficiency in specified core competencies relevant to their lane of ministry. 

Google “church residency programs” to learn more. I wish you the best. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to register as a candidate, free of charge, on our website.

Ministry Jobs & ‘Seminary School’

Friday, March 23, 2018

Hey Fletch … Seems it is quite hard to find a job at a church unless you have gone to Seminary school. I live in Austin, Texas. Is there a certain website I should be viewing to find ministry jobs?

DRF—A Seminary education can open doors, but it’s not a golden key. More than half of all church jobs come through networking. I would suggest that you talk to five local pastors. Ask to meet each one individually for 30 minutes and get to know their church. See if there is an internship that might give you more experience to build a solid resume. Check back with them quarterly so they see your long-term interest.

You might consider an online degree. Check out the 30-hour online degrees at Dallas Theological Seminary. I teach there as an Adjunct Prof in the Doctor of Ministry program. If you want to meet for coffee sometime, I’m close to you. Let me have Scott Barfoot, Director, Doctor of Ministry Studies at Dallas Seminary.

Scott Barfoot—As you consider online seminary training and networking with pastors, ask about specific conferences related to your areas of ministry interest. For example, if you have an interest in serving as a executive pastor you might attend the XP-Seminar to learn more about leading in the church. 

A growing number of pastors and executive pastors hold secular degrees with little or no seminary education. Many feel called from the business and HR world to the local church. Others explore vocational ministry but God eventually confirms His call for them to remain in their secular work.

Depending on the Lord’s leading, networking, conferences, certifications and seminary education are some ways to build a bridge toward more effective ministry in your current workplace, or in bi-vocational and full-time vocational ministry.

Dallas Seminary can help equip you for ministry and we would love to have you learn with us.

Ministry Leads to Weight Gain

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Hey Fletch … This one is rather personal. Your column is a safe place for me to ask it. I have been gaining weight. Often I am at breakfast and lunch meetings, then want to have quality time with my family at dinner. All I do is eat … and it is showing!

DRF—I hear you on this. Ministry makes good weight control harder for the reasons that you gave. John Reed, the former head of the D.Min. Department at Dallas Seminary once said, “I lost weight by not going back for seconds and limiting desserts.” Get an app for your phone and track everything that you eat for a month. By tracking the calories that you consume, it may motivate you to eat less.

Let me ask another question, are you exercising? Pastors are in a stress-filled environment. Exercise will reduce your stress and burn those calories. Get your heart rate above 100 beats per minute for 30 minutes a day—watch television while you exercise! Get a FitBit or Apple Watch as a tool to measure your exercise. You may want to talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program … do it today.

Four-Wall Discussions

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Hey Fletch … I’ve heard you use the term “four wall discussions.” Could you define that for me?

DRF—I call certain meetings “four-wall discussions” to signify that what is said should stay in the four walls of the room. A profane equivalent is “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Here is what you do with a church team. Lay out the ground rules that every comment is fair game in the discussion. In a four-wall discussion, people can vent. They can share insecurities and pain. They can be ‘wrong’ on an issue. Team members can explore orthodox and unusual options. If you can’t do that with a trusted team, who can you talk with?

When someone crosses the line and harsh words are spoken, amends need to be made. Often after a meeting, I have seen team members go to another and bring gentle confrontation. At the next team meeting, the offender makes an apology—and the team is healthier. That is a four-wall discussion at work.

Nothing is final until the team hears the words, “decision made.” Then, everyone needs to support that decision.

We Had a Narcissist on Staff

Monday, February 19, 2018

Hey Fletch … I’m on the other side of the international date line from you, but church issues are the same the world over. We had a Narcissist on our staff and ruined staff and congregational morale. Can you give advice on how we can heal?

DRF—I’m so sorry to hear of your trouble. One definition of a Narcissist is “a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. Narcissists think the world revolves around them.” Check out the Wikipedia page, especially the provocative painting of Narcissus by Caravaggio. As you now know, dealing with a Narcissist is a high challenge. The damage in your church will take many moons to heal. If you don’t know Ken Sande’s book, ‘The Peacemaker,’ it would make a good read.

To deal with the hurt and pain, you may need to lead a time of confession in your church. Ken gives 7 A’s of a Confession: Address everyone involved. Avoid if, but, and maybe. Admit specifically. Acknowledge the hurt. Accept the consequences. Alter your behavior. Ask for forgiveness.

Over time, you can instill a culture of peace, but it takes a great deal of work.

You Are Not a Pastor

February 7, 2018

Hey Fletch … I’m a hurtin’ puppy in Oklahoma right now. Got my tail between my legs. A fellow pastor on staff came into my office and said, “You are not a Pastor. Pastors should do this and that, and you don’t do those things.” I know I should be tough and let it roll off, but it came from a guy on staff.

DRF—That’s a bummer on steroids. Part of the fall of humanity is that we see things through our own rose colored glasses. We want others to be just like us. What a boring world it would be if everyone was just like everyone else. There are three key words in the New Testament for church leaders: shepherd, overseer and elder. Your role has more of the overseer and elder, and his has a lot more shepherding. The New Testament doesn’t say one is better than the other, just different. Hang in there and let him see that you do function in all three roles, even if the majority of your work is as an overseer and elder. Spend some time with him. Serve him and see if perhaps he was speaking out of some personal pain.

Just Got Dissed in an Email

January 31, 2018

Hey David … This one is personal and hard to write. I just got an email that seems to say that I wasn’t on a project any longer. I’m totally shocked. I thought that I was the project leader and now they are bringing in another person. I’m pretty mad and hurt. Thoughts for me?

DRF—In reading your email, your Senior Pastor didn’t say much, just two lines. What he said was ambiguous. It all turns on one verb. The email was as clear as mud. I’d suggest not attributing motive or making an accusation. Why don’t you just reply with a simple question, such as, “Could you expand on your thoughts?”

Follow up—So, the Senior Pastor clarified his thoughts and his original email was poorly worded. Instead of ousting you, he was trying to laud your leadership. Email is tricky as the fingers sometimes type faster than the brain thinks. Here are take-away principles: Ask simple questions for clarification. Don’t assume motive. Don’t return fire with fire. Treat others as you want to be treated.

Creating a Ministry Description

January 27, 2018

Hey Doc … My Presiding Bishop is looking to create a role for someone to visit churches inside and outside our organization. This person would stand in for the Bishop when he is unable to be at events and conferences. Do you have any suggestions for a role description and title?

DRF—Sounds like a wonderful role for the right person. XPastor does not have a job description on file for such a role … my thoughts for creating it would be:

    1. Create a role description that has the scope of what you expect and empower the person to do.
    2. Have percentages of time for each of the major sections.
    3. Limit the role description to one page. Focus on strategic areas and don’t get bogged down in tactical details.
    4. Get lots of buy-in on the role from the Bishop and others on the team, so that everyone is on board with the scope and major aspects.

As for the name, I’d suggest a title that shows the representative nature of the role. Perhaps, Executive Liaison or Staff Officer for the Bishop. Let me know how you craft the role and the title you choose.

Staff Culture

January 25, 2018

Hey David … We are wanting to get a feel for how our staff is doing. What can you suggest? We want to understand how our staff feel and get a handle on our staff culture.

DRF—I’m coaching an XP who just did a survey with the Best Christian Workplaces Institute. They got plenty of useful data points from the survey. It was incredibly helpful for them. Take a look at their site and see if it is a fit for you. 

We just posted an article on XPastor from William Vanderbloemen on ‘Creating an Irresistible Workplace.’ That is a must read article, excerpted from his book, ‘Culture Wins: The Roadmap to an Irresistible Workplace.’ William will be doing a workshop on ‘How To Establish Your Staff Values & Build A Winning Team Culture’ at the 2018 XP-Seminar in February. 

Finally, check out the free online Culture Conference that Generis & Vanderbloemen Search Group have produced.