Working with Minister Search to hire for an open position at our church helped me learn something important. It’s something I hope every church staff and candidate understands as they go through the search process. Honesty really is the best policy. What? You might think be thinking, I can’t believe a candidate or church staff wouldn’t be honest in the interview process. For the most part, they are both mostly honest. In fact, they may not say anything that isn’t true.
However, what I learned in talking with potential candidates and their references, is that far too often there are some important things left unsaid. Candidates we spoke to were typically in churches that seemed to be good, healthy churches that fit what the candidate was looking for when they first interviewed. But, after working on staff for some time they realized not everything had been said, and the internal culture didn’t match the external appearance. Most of what they wanted in a church staff team was present, but there was enough of a disconnect that here they were looking to move on.
Candidates do the same thing. They leave out the reference for a church where things didn’t go well. Maybe it was a product of them still needing to grow in maturity. We’ve all been there. Maybe they didn’t tell the whole reason why their previous team wasn’t a fit. Whatever the case may be, they know the reference would not paint a perfect picture, so they leave it out. Helpful tip: good leaders will dig and find it anyway. I know I want to work for a staff that fully explores the background of new hires.
The motivation on both sides is similar. The candidate believes they are different than who they were when the made mistakes in the past. The church is either naive to their issues or they really believe they will grow through them in the near future. Both parties are leaning heavily on hope, rather than reality. Fast forward to a year or two after they hire, and one or both sides is not happy and ready to move on.
Let’s be completely honest and transparent as we interview and as we hire. Let’s ask great questions and dig deep to get to the full picture of who we’re about to team up with. No church or candidate wants a series of 2-year stints rather than setting down roots and having a deeper impact. The only way we’ll get there is by revealing who we truly are, so we can make the most informed decision possible.
Nick Blevins (nickblevins.com) is a gifted writer, leader and encourager. He serves as the Children and Student’s Team Leader at Community Christian Church in Baltimore, MD.