There is a growing trend of churches turning to staffing specialists to get the right people on the bus. Last month, two of the leading search firms in the church world united. The Vanderbloemen Search Group (specializing in large church executive searches) and Help Staff Me (specializing in mid-level staff) have combined their resources and expanded their networks of relationships.
These guys spend all day working with ministries and churches, and have a bird’s eye view of what’s going on. We recently had the chance to sit down with William Vanderbloemen (@wvanderbloemen) and Justin Lathrop (@justinlathrop) to talk about trends they are seeing in church staffing.
What’s an innovative staff position that you guys see growing in popularity in the coming years?
Great question, and one that we’ve been asked a whole lot.
Probably I’m seeing more and more emphasis on communications and social media, even in the form of a Chief Communications Officer.
I think if you look at church history, you’ll see that every seminal Kingdom breakthrough has happened on the heels of a communication breakthrough.
Now that we are on the heels of the single biggest communication breakthrough ever, I believe that means we may be the verge of perhaps the greatest Kingdom breakthrough ever. Smart churches are figuring that out and hiring around it. One of our clients, Community Bible Church in San Antonio, just hired a Pastor of Social Media last year. The growth and results have been astounding.
I agree. We do a lot of work with Lifechurch.tv, Every time I’m there, I’m amazed at the resource and energy put into tech and communication. Craig (Groeschel) says they are “going to have to do things no one else has done to reach people no one else has reached.” That seems to be working!
I’m seeing people put more value, emphasis, and dollars into fewer staff members. As one of my clients put it, “William, I can’t afford to hire players. I need coaches. And frankly, coaches just don’t touch the ball during the game.” When I go to Hillsong, I am amazed to see very few paid staff, and a whole lot of ministry. It almost seems biblical!
Hiring fewer people sounds fun, but it also means churches must be much more intentional and strategic in making those hires.
What’s a critical issue you see in church staffing these days?
I’ll mention what my good friend Sam Chand calls the “silent tsunami” that’s coming: succession.
The aging workforce is affecting every job sector of the US, and the church isn’t immune to it. Smart leaders are realizing that we are all interim pastors, and they are planning for transition well in advance. This is probably the sector that we work hardest on at our firm, because we believe it might be the biggest unspoken crisis the church in the US will face over the next 20 years. So when I look at a place like Southeast Christian Church, I see a church that put enormous time and energy into succession planning, and are now reaping benefits.
Tell us briefly what you guys do to help churches.
Finding a key staff person for your church or ministry is serious; – as serious as an organ transplant.
Transplants are critical enough to warrant help. If the operation goes well, your ministry will find a new level of life. If the operation is rushed, goes poorly, or ends in rejection, things can get downright unpleasant.
Our team and process bring a third set of eyes. To follow the metaphor, our process and network will identify organ donors (candidates). But just as importantly, our executive search process will make sure there is a “tissue match” between the dna of the church and the new staff person.