by David Lyons

You may be thinking, If a candidate has great qualifications, why should a cultural fit matter? Just because a candidate has excellent qualifications, experience, and even the same doctrinal beliefs, does not mean that they are the right candidate for the church. I like to use the word “best” a lot when I work with churches and ministries looking to fill roles. Even though someone may be qualified on paper does not mean that they are the best fit for it. Part of finding that best fit involves ensuring that the candidate will fit well within your existing church culture.

Consider what could happen if you hire a candidate while ignoring the whole question of church culture. If they arrive and begin their ministry in your church, but are not at all used to your church culture, this not only could cause a lot of stress for the new person, and even emotional issues, but it also inhibits the new person from being able to minister effectively (which is what you wanted in the first place, right?). The fact of the matter is, most people just don’t react well to change, especially change on the scale of vastly different church cultures. Moving to a new culture is difficult. It’s not that someone couldn’t learn and adapt, but it’s challenging. Remember, you want the candidate that is best for the position, which more often than not means finding someone who can fit in well with your existing church culture.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you find a qualified candidate who doesn’t fit your culture that somehow you can make a candidate fit your culture. This is a bad idea. Square pegs don’t fit in round holes and if you force them to fit you’ll break something.

Some people emphasize certain aspects of the hiring process more than other aspects. Chemistry or relational connection is one of those areas. Although chemistry is important between a church and a candidate, don’t isolate it as the most important factor. Someone can thrive in your church even though they don’t like the same football teams you like (go Cowboys!) J

An overemphasis on chemistry—the relationship aspect—assumes that everyone has to get along very well all the time. If you follow this model, you’ll end up hiring lots of people you like that can’t get the job done. They’ll be miserable because they are not the best fit for the ministry position and you’ll be miserable because they aren’t getting the tasks done, but you like them and can’t get rid of them! 

Soon, I’ll have another post that gets more specific about culture. Stay tuned! 

What could happen if you ignore the question of church culture with our candidates?
Why is cultural fit important in your church?