How to avoid hiring the wrong person for your church staff...

Avoiding Bad Hires: 5 Key Factors to Consider When Hiring for Your Church

SUMMARY:  Hiring for your church can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to finding the right fit for your team. You want to make sure that the person you hire aligns with your church’s theological beliefs, culture, personality, and has the necessary skills and experience to excel in their role. However, too often churches fall in love with candidates too early in the process, overlooking important factors that can lead to bad hires. We’ll be discussing the five key areas that need to match up in order for your next hire to have long-term, healthy fit potential. We’ll also be sharing how our assessment process at Chemistry Staffing can help you identify the right fit for your church and avoid common hiring mistakes.

Last year, Faith Church was in need of a new youth pastor. They had been searching for several months and had finally found Pete, a candidate that they believed was the perfect fit. Pete was charismatic, had a great resume, and seemed to align with the church’s values and beliefs. He was also a great public speaker and had a big following on social media. They really liked Pete.  And because they had been looking for a while, they decided to hire him quickly. After all, a great candidate like this doesn’t come around every day, and Pete surely wouldn’t be ‘on the market’ long.

Pete started work, and everything seemed to be going well. He was popular with the youth group, and the church was seeing an increase in attendance. However, after several months, cracks started to appear in the youth pastor’s performance. He was frequently absent from meetings, and when he was present, he was often disengaged and disorganized. He also had a tendency to talk about controversial topics and would frequently argue with the senior pastor.

Within a year, the church asked Pete to leave. And as the new youth pastor search committee convened, they wondered how they could avoid making the same mistake when hiring their next youth pastor.

In our work with churches over the years, we have identified five different areas that need to match up in order for your next hire to have ‘long-term, healthy fit’ potential. Miss on any one of these five, and the chances for longevity of your new staff member goes down significantly. Misalignment on two or more of these areas are the things that bad hires are made of.

Too often churches fall in love with candidates too early in the interview process. While likeability is one of the five elements you’ll be screening for (personality), it is not the only filter. Great hires for your team equally search for theological fit, culture/DNA fit, personality fit, skills and experience fit, and ‘Chemistry’ (which is your final ‘gut check’ to be sure a candidate is the right person for your church and community.

That is why Chemistry Staffing developed an assessment process that gives us an understanding of who a candidate is theologically and culturally, gives us a sense of their personality, and helps us understand whether they have the necessary skills to do the job that they were hired for. This pre-interview assessment process allows us to gather 125 points of data early on in the process, allowing us to gain crucial insight into whether someone is a potential fit for the churches we work with or not. The end result of this process allows us to eliminate 90-95% of the candidates who submit a resume for a position. By the time a candidate completes our assessment process, we have a reasonable idea as to whether they could be a good fit for your church, and whether they should be interviewed for the position.

#1 Theological Fit

As you talk with potential staff members, it’s important that you make sure that they are a good fit for your church theologically. How do your church’s open-handed and close-fisted theological issues line up with the candidate’s views on these issues?

On close-fisted issues, non-alignment needs to disqualify the candidate from your search, but you should also be exploring the open-handed issues to ensure that they will not cause a low-grade frustration between you and your new hire. When not thoroughly aligned, cracks many time begin to show within 12-18 months of the hire.

At Chemistry Staffing, our process pre-screens every potential candidate on major and secondary theological issues and compares the results with your church’s theological beliefs. This instantly identifies areas of disagreement or issues that warrant additional discussion before the hire.

#2 Church Culture / DNA

Every church has a different culture and DNA. Small-town churches have a different feel than city churches. And most Baptist churches have a different ministry philosophy than Pentecostal churches. Finding a candidate that matches your church’s (and community’s) distinct ‘way’ of doing ministry is key to finding a healthy, long-term fit.

What type of church culture is the candidate coming out of and how does that compare to your church? An honest assessment of your culture will help ensure that you do not bring someone on the team that will chafe at the way you do things from day one. Every candidate that applies for your staff opening at Chemistry Staffing is asked a series of culture and DNA questions to see if they have the potential to be a great fit at YOUR church. It is not uncommon for a candidate to be a tremendous fit for your church theologically but be a total mis-match when it comes to your church’s culture and ministry philosophy. Identifying areas of misalignment early in the process will help insure you don’t make a common hiring mistake.

#3 Personality

Every church and every church staff member has a personality. Too many churches make hires based on a first impression: “Do I like this person?” But there is much more that likeability that determines whether or not a candidate will be a great fit at your church. A hard-charging, type-A personality in a type-B church will not end well.

Knowing how your church is wired and comparing that to the candidate will help you discern whether someone will be able to succeed in their role and work well with the team.

#4 Skills and Abilities

In addition to the areas mentioned above, it is also important to consider skills and experience fit when hiring for your church. A candidate may have great personality and theological alignment, but without the necessary skills, they may not be able to do the job. Make sure to evaluate a candidate’s qualifications and experience to ensure they have what it takes to excel in the role.

#5 Chemistry

Chemistry, or the final ‘gut check’, is also an important factor to consider when hiring for your church. It’s important to trust your instincts and make sure there’s a good fit before making a hire. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s important to explore that further and make sure the candidate is the right fit for your church and community.

Avoiding a Bad Hire

Hiring for your church is a crucial process that requires careful consideration of several key factors. At Chemistry Staffing, we understand the importance of finding the right fit for your church and have developed an assessment process that helps us identify potential candidates who align with your church’s theological beliefs, culture, personality, skills and experience, and chemistry.

We understand that finding the right staff members for your church is not an easy task and that’s why we are here to help. Our team of church coaches is dedicated to helping you find the perfect fit for your church. We have the experience and expertise to help you navigate the hiring process and make the best decision for your church.

We invite you to take the next step and schedule a 30-minute consultation with one of our church coaches by visiting During this consultation, you’ll be able to discuss your church’s specific needs and learn more about our assessment process. We’re here to help you find a great, healthy, long-term fit for your staff team and we’re committed to doing all we can to assist your church. So, don’t wait any longer, schedule your consultation today and let us help you find the perfect fit for your church.