A 10 Minute Read - By Chris Bright - posted on November 12, 2020

How to staff your church better with the right roles

Hiring is one of the most important jobs you can do in your church. Firstly, you’ve got to get the personality right, if you don’t get that right, all of the rest of this is pointless. Although that’s for another blog.

Different types of roles link to different ways in which people think. To achieve this, we’ve used the Thinking Wavelength tool. This tool is a quick test to see whether you’re a big picture thinker, a detail thinker or somewhere in between. In church life we need all kinds of people involved in the cause, however when it comes to staffing, you’ll want to weight it more towards bigger picture thinkers. That’s because the detail aspect of ministry is there for volunteers who give their time, effort and skill for Jesus.

In Ephesians Chapter 4, The Apostle Paul talks about the need for Ministry giftings to “equip” the church to do the work of ministry, not to do the work of ministry itself. That’s why you want bigger picture thinkers. They’re setting the conditions and are equipping the 'doing' on the ministry.

We’ve identified four types of roles that exist in church life that you need to think about.

Vision Setters (9-10 Thinking Wavelength)

Vision setters are vital to every church. To quote an overly quoted verse, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.” (Proverbs 29:18).  That restraint is the thing that keeps people together, and great vision does just that. Great vision rallies people behind a common purpose, and draws support, finance and peoples’ time.

On the Thinking Wavelength scale, vision setters are on the top end. They are naturally big picture thinkers, which also means that they are often not bothered with the detail and get bored soon after the idea has been generated.

Of all of the types of staff you need, this is the one you need more than any. However, you don’t need that many. One is all that is needed. That’s because a church cannot have two visions. Two visions is division.

If you’re a senior pastor and you’re not a natural vision setter, that’s ok. It’s often a muscle that is left undeveloped, but with a bit of training, you can grow your visionary muscle. Firstly, you need to recognise the difference between authoring the vision and communicating it. Authoring the vision can and should be a team sport. In fact, that’s what our facilitation is there to achieve. With a skilful facilitator, you can co-create the future with your team. By setting the conditions, you can allow the vision setters in your team to rise up. You’ll be surprised how visionary you and your team can be if you give it a chance and ask the right questions.

The next part is communicating the vision. This is where most pastors fall down. Many pastors don’t have a problem with authoring vision, but really struggle when it comes to communicating it. For communicating vision, I recommend that you read Illuminate by Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez, it gives really clear and simple advice on what to say and do at different stages of the visionary journey.

To quote Lee Button (of this parish), “If content is king, then context is god.” Lee isn’t being a heretic, what he means by that is content is vitally important, so much so that in the business world it is said that “content is king”. However, content must serve the larger goal, and the only authority higher than a king is God. Content serves the context, the vision.

Content Creators (7-8 Thinking Wavelength)

Content creators are the people that take vision and turn it into meaningful content that can help people. This can be in the form of preaches, songs, systems, strategies, blogs, videos, podcasts and more. They take the vision and give it shape and form.

On the Thinking Wavelength, they’re usually around 7 to 8 on the scale. They see the bigger picture and can connect it to detail. They usually like to create a version 1 of a new system then pass it on to a manager to roll out fully.

I’m a classic Content Creator. Not only do I spend my time writing blogs, making videos and podcasts with thinking.church, I also write songs for my church as well as create new strategic systems to help roll out the vision.

Managers (4-6 Thinking Wavelength)

Management has become a bit of an unappreciated role in church circles recently. But in reality, managers are vital to the running of any organisation, especially churches.

The role of the manager is to organise the practicalities of getting the job done, then recruiting and empowering a team to achieve it. A manager isn’t the one doing, they’re the ones organising the ones that do.

Managers sit at around the 4-6 level on the Thinking Wavelength, they must understand the need for greater vision, but may find the vision setters too “out there”, but they’ll resonate with Content Creators. Content Creators build something tangible, if the content creators are the architects, the managers are the project leads.

In your church you will need to hire Managers at some point, however you may not want to jump to hiring them straight away. As your church grows however, the need for paid managers will become more apparent.

Doers (1-3 Thinking Wavelength)

The final category are doers, and this category comes with a warning. Doers are the most detail oriented people on the Thinking Wavelength. They care about getting things right, and accuracy at the minute detail. They are passionate about excellence and will often find bigger picture thinkers too difficult. Nothing gets done without doers.

Churches usually hire a content creator (preacher) first, and then immediately seek to hire a doer, usually in the form of an administrator. This has problems though, as the amount of work racks up, the more doers you need to hire. But there’s a bigger problem, for every doer you hire, you take that away from a volunteer. Volunteers should be your very first route when looking for a doer.

However, as your church grows, there will be a need for some doers. A great example of this are roles like cleaners. Sometimes you just need them to do the job, and it’s not possible to recruit a volunteer team to do it (hands up who’d like to scrub toilets at 5am for free).

There’s a different kind of doer too, which becomes necessary as it relates to specific skills that you need to pay for. Some specialist roles such as film editors and graphic designers take a lot of time, too much time to expect of a volunteer, and therefore it often becomes necessary to employ or outsource these roles to contractors.

You’ll need to draw a distinction between a doer and a content creator. Content creators are expressing something through a medium. A doer is helping to create a component part of that expression. If a designer is ministering to people through their artwork, that’s content (for a great example of this, see Aussie Dave on Instagram), if they are making something to fulfil a brief, that’s doing.

Don’t get me wrong, doers are vital, but look for volunteers first and only hire in the rare circumstances.

Quantities

So how many should you have of each? That, of course, is impossible to answer as it depends on context. However, in general, you’ll need many more content creators and managers on staff than vision setters and doers.

In terms of which roles to staff first, I’d recommend looking at vision setters as your first hire. All the other roles can be done by volunteers, but make your first hire one that sets vision. After that, move on to content creators and then managers in turn, each content creator will need a manager to help them, initially as a volunteer, but eventually as a staff member as things grow. Lastly, only hire doers when its absolutely necessary.

If you need help working out your hiring strategy, we can help. Book a free 1-hour consultation with us today and we’ll talk you through how we can help.