15 Resources to Help You Recruit the Best People for Your Team

The most precious asset of an organization is people. Get the right team, and you’re off to the races. Hire the wrong team, you’ll likely move slowly—and perhaps even backwards.

Finding the Best Candidate for the Job - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/alexsl, Image #8586677

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/alexsl

More and more, churches are doing what smart corporations have done for years: use staffing specialists to help identify the very best people for their teams.

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 network of relationships.

In the wake of their merger, several prominent church leaders interviewed William Vanderbloemen and Justin Lathrop, the two companies’ founders, to talk about trends they are seeing in church staffing in a variety of specialties.

Since more than 65% of my readers are in a church leadership position, I’ve compiled several of these posts as a resource:

  1. Rick Warren’s website, Pastors.com, interviewed William and Justin about trends they are seeing in staffing.
  2. Tim Stevens, who hires almost exclusively from within, asked, “Why hire from the outside?
  3. Josh Griffin, a leading Student Pastor asked, “How do I become an indispensable staff pastor?
  4. Mark Howell explored small group trends.
  5. Scott Williams, a leading church blogger, asked, “What key questions should I ask when looking for a team member?”
  6. Tony Morgan talked with William about the looming succession planning crisis in the church.
  7. Michael Lukasweski is about to plant a church in New York City. He asked the guys for particular pointers in staffing for large city churches.
  8. Jim Sheppard, a generosity guru, asked about coming changes in church staffing.
  9. Kent Shaffer, another popular blogger, wrote a great article on, “How to Fill Church Jobs with Quality Leadership.”
  10. Greg Atkinson asked for a pointers on getting promoted.
  11. Rhett Smith dove into the topic of staff chemistry and how teams can work better together.
  12. Bryan Miles asked William to quickly explain the value of conducting a search process.
  13. Herbert Cooper, pastor of one of the fastest growing churches in the U.S., asked what fast growing churches should look for in staff.
  14. Vision consultant Will Mancini explored the importance of vision clarity when staffing.
  15. Shawn Lovejoy, head of Churchplanters.com, asked the guys to give advice to church planters about staffing.

If you are a church or ministry looking to hire, or a candidate seeking job search advice, contact these guys or submit your resume. They are confidential, professional, and have the unusual combination of real-time church experience and corporate search work.

You can also follow William and Justin on Twitter for regular insights on staffing and career trends.

Question: What challenges have you faced in recruiting people for your church staff? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Timothy Fish

    This is sad that people are looking at churches more like a business than they are the way God intended. 1 Corinthians 12:28 comes to mind. The fact is that God sets people in the church. Sure we may go out and search for people to fill various positions, but even those are in the hand of God. I think it is important for us to realize that God puts those we need in the church. We may look at some people and wish God had sent them to some other church, but he put them in our church for a reason. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t give careful consideration to people’s qualifications before sticking them in a position of responsibility, such as the teacher of a Sunday school class or the director of a ministry, but God provides us with the people we need.

    • William Vanderbloemen

      Thanks for the reminder of a need for prayer and discernment Timothy. It’s at the center of what we do at our firm. We find it incredibly humbling that God would allow us to play a part of how He places people in the right post at the right time. While we do use the very best corporate practices, our spiritual reliance on God’s help trumps all else in our work.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      True, but I don’t think that is the question here. William and Justin both believe that God sends us the people we need. But God doesn’t work apart from means. We have to find these people. Using a specialty search firm is one, very powerful way to do it.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t read consultation as necessarily “looking at churches more like a business.” Consultation is thoughtful and wise, a strategy that businesses apply because it makes sense. Churches can (and should) apply what makes sense, too.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a board member of an all-volunteer Christian organization that mandates volunteerism rather than paid staff positions. Do any of these organizations specialize in the nonprofit that encourages volunteers?

    • Karl Mealor

      I agree, jeubfamily. I would like to see more info on recruiting volunteer help as well. Perhaps a future post (even a guest post)?

      • William Vanderbloemen

        Great idea!

        One of the trends we keep seeing is our clients spending more money on fewer people. The intention is to hire a world class “leader of leaders” who can develop volunteers. I’d love to think we could help you guys. Feel free to contact us.

    • Karl Mealor

      I agree, jeubfamily. I would like to see more info on recruiting volunteer help as well. Perhaps a future post (even a guest post)?

    • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

      Hello all,

      There are some great resources to help with volunteer recruitment.

      You can go to 1800volunteer.org, volunteermatch.org, HandsOnNetwork.org and several other small ones.

      In my experience, the best is Volunter Match.

      I hope that helps!

  • http://www.fbcgallatin.org Larry Yarborough, Jr.

    Great post chocked full of resources I can chew on all week. Thanks, Michael. LY

  • http://www.bradfarris.com/ Brad Farris

    I’m sure there’s a sea change coming in the church staffing world, the corporate world has been seeing it for sometime. The search process is very broken. It’s just too easy to email a resume to every job out there (whether you are qualified or not). As a result we see an average of 150 applicants for each job we post. With those kind of numbers using a search firm is a terrific value.

    When you use a search firm they should be able to write a better posting, attract more qualified candidates, you are using their time to weed out the 100 – 150 unqualified folks. Also, whether you are a church or a business you hire occasionally; probably less than once a year. A search professional can help you to have a better search process, with a written interview guide, avoiding common pitfalls and roadblocks.

    Whether you lead a for-profit, not-for-profit, or church, these are issues you need to focus on. Thanks Michael for a great round up on this topic.

    • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

      Finding the right way to articulate those qualifications would be so helpful in the church world. I’ve emailed a resume to a church seeking “A pastor that meets the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3″ (which I do, basically) when what they really meant was “A pastor with 8-10 years experience and at least a Doctor of Ministry from one of only 7 seminaries.”

      Wasted their time and mine, but had they been clearer, I would have known better.

      • http://www.bradfarris.com/ Brad Farris


        This is a huge problem too. If you don’t hire regularly it’s hard to appreciate how specific you need to be in the postings. A professional recruiter will write a much more specific posting that will attract only the most qualified candidates. That said, candidates often apply for anything even close.


        • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

          I remember that, the last time I was seeking, I could pick out the people that had come up with the description on their own; the ones that cut and pasted from the “Pastor Search Committee Guidebook;” and the ones written by people that knew what they were doing.

          I didn’t meet the minimum qualifications on any of the pro-written ones, but at least I knew it!

    • William Vanderbloemen

      Thanks Brad. We also find that the process brings a “third set of eyes” to the process. Too often, folks hire someone they “know” or a friend’s recommendation. An objective opinion helps folks know whether the person they know is the right hire, or just a safe hire.

      • http://www.bradfarris.com/ Brad Farris

        Hiring someone who is a friend is often the LEAST safe choice. I agree 100% that the third set of eyes is critical. Not just to vet the candidates, but to be an advocate for the process. If you go through the full process you get better results. Clients want to fill a job NOW and can sometimes “fall in love” with a candidate. So much better to let the process take it’s course and trust that it will produce the best candidate.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I totally agree. If I am even considering a friend, I want other people’s unbiased input. Also, if it doesn’t work out, I don’t want to be in the awkward position of being the only one who supported the hire.

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    First observation: thanks to your earlier post, I have now clipped this one to Evernote to keep for future reference.

    Second: The problem I’ve seen in church staffing is falling off on to either side of the “how to staff” question. Some people will go with a “We think this is God’s person” without considering any level of qualifications while others build a checklist and clear it without prayer. Both are frustrating to the job-seeker as well.

    I think the idea of having people that have walked through the situation with other churches that can help yours is a good one. As I said to the search committee that brought me to where I am: When you’re in ministry, you want to work with a search committee that knows what they’re doing, but you don’t want to go somewhere that the church has enough experience with search committees that they know what they’re doing! One is a difficult search process, the other shows too much turnover!

    And to actually answer your question: the problem I’ve had is not having the resources to bring someone in. Out here, if a church can engage a full-time pastor, they’re rich.

    • William Vanderbloemen

      Thanks Doug. Great point; – particularly when the average church attendance hovers around 100/Sunday. We’ve actually added a few new options for smaller churches that cannot afford what larger churches can. Feel free to contact us if you need help.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Great resource, Michael. I think one of the best times to look into a staffing specialist is when churches are expanding or opening a new building. While there are a million details to cover such as flooring, lighting, and paving a parking lot, planning for additional staff may be overlooked. Having a professional handle the details and bring you qualified candidates can really make a difference down the road. Having gone through two large church building programs recently, I can honestly say that the choice of new staff members is far more important than the choice of carpeting or chairs. The old adage, “If you build it, they will come,” is really true in many cases. Churches need to have staff ready for growth. Companies like Auxano can help you set a vision and plan for additional staff as part of the equation.

    • William Vanderbloemen

      Well said John. A whole lot of our clients are high growth churches who have hit a new level of attendance and activity. Those new stages require different thinking from staff. And as you hinted, without the right staff, it doesn’t really matter how cool your new building is.

  • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

    Really helpful. Thanks, Mike.

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  • http://joshuamhood.com Josh Hood

    Staffing is so critical. And a staff is only as good as the people who constitute it. Prayerful people = prayerful staff. Patient people = patient staff. Selfish people = selfish staff.
    It is hard to over-estimate the importance of the selection process for the leaders of any organization.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      So true, Josh. I think hiring right is one of the most important things organizations do.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      So true, Josh. I think hiring right is one of the most important things organizations do.

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    I think there is also a lot of potential to help those looking for the right job (the place that God is calling one to). One of the biggest hurdles, I think, for the individual is ‘being known’.

    I have been on both sides of this coin. One of the biggest challenges seems to be helping individuals to get their story told and helping churches to know the individual for who they really are and for all they are. Having a third party that can learn the individual and speak for the individual can be game-changing.

    • William Vanderbloemen

      Steven – You are so right. While we don’t represent candidates (and don’t take money from them), it is always great to meet folks, hear their story, and help get some of the great “off radar” stories in front of churches. It’s an honor to be let into people’s lives at that level, and to hear what God has done through them.

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        So, what kind of strategies do you implement to get beyond just matching the required qualifications of the organization with the candidate’s qualifications listed on the resume?

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    This is a very timely post for us. We are actively seeking a children’s minister, and are wondering how to best find the right person. I’ll pass this info on to our search team.

    • William Vanderbloemen

      Thanks Jeff –

      You can have them contact me directly via our website. I’ll look forward to connecting. We have a very extensive network of candidates in this field.



      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Thanks! I passed on the info to our search team leader.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    It is not exaggerating to tell that the biggest challenge in many churches right now is people and people time. The current crew in our church is getting older and don’t have time or don’t want to spend time learning new things. Our church had some youth on the team but they either went off to college or were more needed in the praise band than behind the board. So, the numbers in our church are depleting and aging. (A typical scenario from a small church in a rural setup.)

    • William Vanderbloemen

      Uma, we hear that story a lot and wish you well.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Thanks Williams!

    • William Vanderbloemen

      Uma, we hear that story a lot and wish you well.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      We are in the same boat here. Smaller church, rural setting. However, we also have a pretty strong children and youth program. Hopefully, we can impact lives at a young age and prevent them from leaving the church completely when they leave for college.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Jeff! I agree with your suggestion. It’s again intentional leadership (as defined by Mike in this blog!!!) comes into play. Conscious and focused leading helps in grooming future leaders. I believe that nothing happens by accident. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

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  • http://somewiseguy.com Some Wise Guy

    Great list of resources. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Desfrank

    Great resources thank you Michael.
    This post simply states the obvious that we are living in a time of greater resource. I am looking forward to see the fruit of it.

    • William Vanderbloemen

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

    My experience mostly comes from recruiting volunteers, but the biggest challenge is keeping people. Which, I believe might be like most good churches.

    When volunteers help, they are excited to get started and offer their talent. But over time they see new ways to serve and help others, and they might “jump ship” to another nonprofit that needs help.

    My biggest challenge is always keeping my volunteers engaged and active.

  • http://peterpollock.com Peter P

    Great list of resources.

    Thank you, Michael!

  • Greg Surratt


    I’m not sure how I feel about ministry search firms. (Actually I do know how I feel, but that’s a nicer way of putting it.)

    I’m challenged by a quote by Noel Tichy – “Winners don’t find successors – they create them”.

    And this one from Ram Charan in his book Leaders at All Levels – “”Sometimes bringing in outside talent is the best solution to deeply embedded corporate (church) problems. More often it is the only solution because the company (church) has failed to produce the leaders it needs.”

    My thought: Most churches talk leadership, hold leadership conferences, drink the leadership coolaid…but when they need crucial new leaders, they recruit them from other churches.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      Greg, that is the ‘other side’ of the story. I have experienced church settings where a great person for the role from within the church is overlooked because the church thinks that the only people that would be ‘right’ are ones doing it in a bigger, better church.

      And then there is our challenge as leaders to invest in the process of developing great leaders …

    • William Vanderbloemen

      Great thoughts Greg. Similar to the conversation we had with Tim Stevens. I totally agree that churches need to emphasize raising up leadership, and appreciate what you’re doing to help that cause at Seacoast!

    • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

      That’s a good thought Greg.

      If a church is dedicated to developing leaders, should they really have to “look outside” for other leaders to come in? What about developing the people who you work with every single day?

      Every day there are teachable moments if a leader looks for them. If a church is truly committed to developing leaders, they need to watch for those teachable moments.

      And maybe, just maybe, they won’t have to search so hard for outside talent when they have a key position they need to fill.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I personally think this is the ideal. As leaders we must all strive to develop the people we serve.

        Having said that, I don’t think in the real world it always works out so neatly. Sometimes your success plans don’t work out as you hoped. People die, quit, burn out, etc. There are scores of situations and circumstances that would require an outside search.

        I think it is best to think of this as both/and rather than either/or.

  • http://www.cdenning.com Chris Denning

    There is some really great info in there, thanks for doing the digging for us. I really enjoyed Josh Griffin’s post in becoming indispensable. Good stuff!

    • William Vanderbloemen

      Josh is a wise guy. Glad the post was a help!

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  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    I find this tendency to hire the best people rather disturbing, for it is inversely proportional to my job prospects. Not fair!!!

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  • Anonymous

    WOW–great info–Thank you!! In my opinion-recognizing, accessing and cultivating the talent that God has placed within your body needs to be balanced with the resources, skills and abilities that are available to you. I wouldn’t be where I am in my life now if my own pastor had not done this for me.
    I personally work with a company that provides help with hotel rooms and meeting space for conferences-AT NO CHARGE TO THE CLIENT. We bring the buying power of large corporations and associations, as well as the experience of 1,200 + associates worldwide to the local church or ministry.
    I think it shows great stewardship to utilize the resources that are available to us as leaders.

    Heather M. Trompke
    Manager, Global Accounts, HelmsBriscoe

    “thank you for helping with hotel rates in London, and…everywhere” Israel Houghton, Multiple Grammy and Dove award winner-on liner notes of “Love God.Love People” album released August 2010