Hiring in Ministry – Success Criteria & Ministry Descriptions

Dr. Glenn Miller, host of the Leadership and the Church podcast, and CEO of Miller Management, is joined by his colleague Tracy Hale, CEO at Youth Volunteer Corps.

The Discipline of Hiring in Ministry – Success Criteria & Ministry Descriptions

While this episode is mostly surrounding paid staff, we also recommend having ministry descriptions for certain volunteer positions. One key position we recommend is for your Offering Counting Team. Miller Management provides a sample of that position, along with many paid positions, on our website.

According to our guest, there are two fatal flaws when it comes to hiring. First, is not waiting for the right person. And second, is not developing your success criteria.

“I would say this is the single most important thing you should do, because without it, you don’t know if you have the right person or not.” – Tracy Hale, Youth Volunteer Corps

Success Criteria

The first step is to determine the position and what team they will be on. Then, know the skills and the characteristics a person would need to effectively do this job. And, our guest reminds us, make sure to do this prayerfully.

Now, most of our listeners will think these two areas of advice seem logical, but do you actually take the time to do this? The difference will show if you put the time in on the front end, or not.

We want to create a benchmark for success for our new hire and our ministry. A great practice is to have multiple people on the team write down what skills and characteristics they think are necessary to do this job, to be on this team, and to be a part of this organization. Then, look at the overlap.

Skills are Straightforward

The characteristics (or soft-skills) like emotional intelligence, are the items you are looking for here. This is where you would include “Leadership” or “Organized” as the basic necessary skills. For a Worship Pastor that might mean, Can they put together a playlist for a service? And what is their attitude like? Not, can they play an instrument?

Figure out what skills and characteristics you already have in your ministry to accomplish your mission. Then, figure out what is missing, and that’s what you need to be looking for in your next hire.

It is important to involve other people, even though, you are involving other people and that can get messy. As Tracy points us, “But anytime you get other people’s opinions and other people’s perspectives, it’s going to be a better outcome.” That’s how God made us.

Likeability is probably our number one downfall, according to our host. When we hire people only because we like them, but haven’t put them through our success criteria, that’s when we can make mistakes. Our host produces a relatable scene of shopping with his spouse: Don’t just purchase the lava lamp because you like it, know where it is going in your home first, where it would fit and make sense living. That’s what you want to do with your ministry hire.

Ministry Descriptions

Maybe you say job description, but we actually like ministry description. But maybe “Ministry Covenant” is an even better title.

There can be many pitfalls in this topic, according to our guest. But to avoid those, make sure you are writing descriptions down as well. And be as clear as possible, people want to know what they are getting into, no fluff needed.

Write, Review, & Edit

Another way to write this successfully for both parties, according to Tracy, is provide the general gist, review it, and then cut in half. Then, think about it as the potential hire. Do I, as the candidate, know what is needed and do I want this job? If the answer is no, then you are not done writing the description.

That’s where the discipline comes into play. Editing down to the basics of the job. You aren’t going to be able to cover everything assigned to this individual, and that’s okay. But if you make your list too specific, and too long, then try to add something to their list, the person may try to argue with that.

Be creative and enticing; especially in those first three to four sentences. Start with questions to draw them in. This is also a good time to use those characteristics you can up with, inside the first question.

Visit GoodFaithAccounting.com/Resources for help writing six different descriptions for church workers. Or read more on our post about Ministry Descriptions: Providing Clear Guidelines.

Next Step Disciplines

Coming up with the success criteria is the one that everyone wants to skip. It is equivalent to not putting the address into your GPS and wondering around in an unfamiliar area, our guest points out. And our host agrees, “You are going to get there faster, with a lot less errors.”

For the Ministry Covenant, our guest’s top tip is: “Not too long, and be creative. Pull them in.” Create an invitation in your job description, with a clear target. “Employees generally want to be successful…But without clear criteria of what we are going to try to hire you for; and then giving you clear direction as to what you are going to be required to do, I think we are doing a disservice to them and to our ministry,” our host adds. Also, for the younger demographic: culture is key.

Coming Up Next

This month is all about tangible steps to be able to walk out your mission and vision more effectively through utilizing these disciplines of hiring. Go back to the first episode in this series, or check out Hiring 101 while you wait for the next episodes.

Next week’s episode will be about Recruiting and Interviewing. The final week will be devoted to Assessing the Candidates and Forming an Effective Offer.

Join the conversation, see behind the scenes, and learn more on our Instagram and Twitter.

Special thanks to our guest, Tracy Hale, and our master of all things podcasting, Chris Miller, for this second episode in The Discipline of Hiring in Ministry series.