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Is It Time to Change Tradition?

Tradition

People hold strong ties to their traditions, and that is true with churches as much as with anyone else. Traditions are not always a bad thing. They give us structure and security. They ensure we have a system in place for doing whatever needs to be done. Maybe every once in a while, though, we should take a step back and reevaluate our traditions. Is there actually a better method we just haven’t thought of because of our ties to this certain tradition?

In this post, we want to look at one tradition that we believe churches need to reevaluate, and that is the way they hire ministers. The traditional method for hiring ministers in churches of Christ has several weaknesses, and we would like to address just a few of those here as well as offer up some solutions.

First, many congregations begin their search too quickly. As soon as the former minister leaves, there is a sense of urgency to find his replacement. Urgency isn’t always a bad thing, but there needs to be some time for the elders and search committee to decide what direction to take the search. What kind of minister does the congregation need? What responsibilities will the minister have? What will their salary be? What specific personality traits need to be present in this new minister for them to get along well with members of the congregation?

It requires time for a church to come to a consensus on the answers to these questions. When churches jump too quickly into a search, it can, first, lead to vague job descriptions that will not attract near as many candidates. Second, and even worse, it can lead to division within a congregation. How hard is it going to be for a church to search for a minister when it cannot agree on what kind of minister it wants? The more planning that a church puts into its search, the better the end result will be.

How a church advertises its position is also of great importance. The traditional method usually just involves putting up the job posting on various brotherhood university websites and hoping for applications to come in. Some calls might be made to local ministers or personal connections to people in the congregation, but there is not much active recruiting involved.

Our philosophy is this: we know who we are looking for, and we will go to every length to find that person. During our recruiting process, we make hundreds, sometimes thousands, of phone calls to ministers across the country. We may spend hours making calls without an interested candidate, but we always end up finding high-quality candidates. It takes time and effort to do this and, if the congregation chooses not to use a search firm like us, it takes quite a bit of cooperation and dedication on the part of the search committee. From our experience, though, we believe your congregation will find the results to be worth the effort.

When a congregation is passive in its approach, this can lead to many more problems in addition to the search taking much longer than it needs to. The attitude that is present in many churches is, “We will wait it out until we have what we want.” If this is your congregation’s attitude, your best candidates will probably find another position before your search committee begins to follow up with them. Not only is this way of thinking inefficient for the congregation, but it is unfair to the candidates to have to wait indefinitely. The solution is simple: hard deadlines and guaranteed follow-up with candidates at those deadlines. Again, this requires dedication.

When a congregation is passive in its approach, this can lead to many more problems in addition to the search taking much longer than it needs to. The attitude that is present in many churches is, “We will wait it out until we have what we want.” If this is your congregation’s attitude, your best candidates will probably find another position before your search committee begins to follow up with them. Not only is this way of thinking inefficient for the congregation, but it is unfair to the candidates to have to wait indefinitely. The solution is simple: hard deadlines and guaranteed follow-up with candidates at those deadlines. Again, this requires dedication.

A New Direction Doesn't Have to Mean a New Ministe...
Don't Settle

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Testimonials

Our Search Committee is so grateful that we used Minister Match when we needed to hire our new Youth Minister. Minister Match assisted us in recruiting many serious candidates (over 30) that fit what our congregation was looking for. The ...
Jorge Acebo - Search Committee Chairman, Sunset Church of Christ
I strongly encourage ministers to take advantage of the expertise of the folks at Minister Match to help put together a high quality resume. They will help you identify strong points you didn't even know you have! I am extremely satisfied with the ...
Joel Shelton - Commerce Church of Christ
From my standpoint as one of the elders, I can say we were pleased with the process, and feel the time and money spent was well worth it. We felt we received excellent service from your firm, and because we were among the first to use your service ...
Bob Perkins - Elder, Sunset Church of Christ
We would not have been exposed to the large number of qualified candidates without the resources and expertise of Minister Match.  The search process was very organized and accomplished very efficiently with the program and schedule provided by ...
Ken Fox - Elder, Mesa Church of Christ
Minister Match did an excellent job connecting me with a congregation that I would not have known about otherwise.  Don Viar did an excellent job representing my concerns to the search committee and did an excellent job communicating their concerns ...
Drew Baker - Preaching Minister, South Fork Church of Christ
We had a very good experience with Minister Match.  This was not the first time we had searched for a minister, but it was the first time we used a search firm.  Our experience with Minister Match was a complete success.  In previous searches, we ...
Jim Holway - Minister, Sunset Church of Christ
Minister Match was kind to me, followed up really well, and tried to be as helpful as possible. I believe they give a lot of attention to the candidates and care about their part of the process.
Kerry Williams - Minister, Waterford Church of Christ
We would like to thank you for your efforts to make the minister hiring process simple and well defined. The congregation here has not been through the minister hiring process in sixteen years and had little experience left for trying to do so. We ...
Jim Burdette - Elder, Frederick Church of Christ
Minister Match connected me with a church, had the details for every aspect of the process already taken care of, and communicated well. It was a very easy process, and now I am a youth minister in Miami, Florida!  I was very impressed with the ...
Sam Wilson - Youth Minister, Sunset Church of Christ
The candidate pool for our need was something we had to work to develop but Don was insistent we wait for God's guidance and let it fill up when our human nature wanted to start right away. This served us well since our best qualified candidate ...
Jon Bouley - Family Minister Search Committee Chairman, Mesa Church of Christ

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ABC Blocks

Your congregation has just hired a minister, and it seems like they are the perfect fit. Congratulations! There is one more step to the process, though, and it is just as important as the process of finding the right minister. You might have heard people refer to how the “first hundred days” of someone’s job usually sets the tone for their entire career with that organization. The same is true with ministers. Just as your congregation is going through a major transition, so is your new minister. The first few months of a job are a stressful time, and it is the job of the elders and search committee to help your new minister through their transition.

We refer to this as the “On-Boarding Stage.” Since the “first hundred days” is so important to the rest of a minister’s career with your congregation, we believe this stage is one of the keys to reducing minister turnover in the church. In this post, we want to talk about a few of the things that a new minister needs from their congregation during this transition period. We will refer to them as the ABC’s of the On-Boarding Phase.