Wednesday, July 18, 2007


In yesterday's blog I wrote some thoughts about our Chapin Baptist hiring principles and practices. I closed the blog by stating some initial advantages for hiring from within the congregation.

Here's a list of advantages for hiring from within:

  • You know their character before hiring them.

  • They have a proven track record of service and faithfulness.

  • You already have spotted their spiritual giftedness.

  • You know how they get along with people.

  • You know up front that they understand the church's vision and are champions of it.

  • They understand the church's philosophy of ministry.

Let me amplify the part about vision support. Our vision is to help people connect with God and become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. When we hire from within, we are hiring people who have already bought into the vision. In fact, why would any church hire someone who doesn't support the vision? And what a great story it is when someone within the congregation senses God's call to full-time Christian ministry! They've been volunteering their services, using their God-given gifts, and supporting the church. It excites me to no end to think of the blessings added to a congregation when they see their own members become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, accept God's call to ministry, and then have an opportunity to serve in their own church. WOW! That's awesome!

Come to think of it (I know it might be an overstatement. But remember a blog is my personal reflections, a platform to share my feelings), to me it is an insult to think that we help people grow to full spiritual maturity and support their call to ministry and have a ministry opening and then say, "We can't hire you because you are a church member."

Through the years we've built upon the value of hiring from within. When the value is in place, it makes hiring decisions much easier. For example, for about three years we have been looking for the right time to add a church administration position. Once we determined the position could be added (by the way, you can never afford a new position; you just bite the bullet, step out in faith and trust God's leadership), it was a no-brainer to approach Rick Jones for the position. He was already volunteering multiple hours. We knew his heart for ministry. And we knew that he was seeking a career change to go into full-time ministry. He already had some applications in other church settings. The timing was right. Rick was a tremendous vision supporter and was highly skilled in the areas where we needed help. No one else was even considered for the job.

Let me get family personal and go back a couple of years. The value of hiring from within was already in place. After James Clonts, an existing member, was hired as our student pastor, we added a part-time position for an assistant student pastor. One young man had already accepted a call to full-time ministry. And his call was to the student ministry. He was already serving many hours in the student ministry on a volunteer basis. The greatest risk was the amount of time that had lapsed since his addiction issues. But we accepted that risk and hired him as the assistant youth pastor. We didn't even consider anyone else seriously because he already had a proven track record in serving in the student ministry. He just happened to be my son. Call it favoritisim or nepotism if you like--but what a hire it was. There is no telling how many people Kenny has led to Christ in his two years here.

I know there was a lot of hall talk going on about hiring the pastor's son. I even had voice mails, calls, and notes criticizing the move. But to me, it was an easy decision because the value of hiring from within was already in place. Again, do we want to pray for God to call out more members into full-time ministry and then rob them of the privilege of employment because they are the family member of another staffer? Father-son ministry teams are not unusual at all. Probably the best known is Andy Stanley who worked for his father at FBC, Atlanta, before branching out to start his own church.

The comments above do not suggest that just because someone is called into full-time ministry, we hire them. But if there is a position open and a viable candidate within to fill that position, then most likely that person will be a leading candidate (maybe the only candidate) for that position.

Hiring from within is a great value to practice. Is it always successful? No. Will there still be bad hires along the way? Unfortunately, yes. But the risk factors, I believe, are much less when you hire one of your own.

There's still more to come. So stay tuned to part 3.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


Many have asked questions regarding our philosophy and practices of hiring new staff. Others have asked questions regarding how large a staff should be. These are great questions. I will try to answer some of them with this blog. And if it takes two blogs, then part 2 will come soon.

What size should a church staff be? There is no right or wrong answer to that question. Studies show that the typical church will average 40-60 percent of its operating budget to personnel. So we always try to stay within that range, ideally 50-55 percent (my opinion only). Another factor to consider is whether or not the church wants to staff itself for status quo or for growth. For example, take our church--running around 600-700 on Sunday mornings. Do we staff for our existing size or for the next level of growth? I believe the wise church staffs for growth.

With the recent hire of Rick Jones as church administrator, I believe we have positioned ourselves more for the growth end. And then with the added blessing of Charles Fant coming on board as a self-supporting pastoral counselor--that just adds to our position. Don't quote me on the exact figures--but before we hired Rick, the personnel portion of our budget represented 45-50 percent of our budget. With his hire, personnel costs are 50-55 percent of our budget, still very much within the realm of typical churches.

Hiring from Within. A practice we have implemented in hiring over the last several years is to look within our own church family for possible candidates. Again, this is not a right or wrong matter. Many churches still go outside the church to hire any position. However, the trend I've noticed in leading churches across America is to hire from within the congregation. Doing so makes a lot of sense.

When I'm looking for a new associate pastor, for example, there are three main ingredients I'm looking for. I call them the three C's. Of course, there are many other factors involved, but these three are so critical. First, competency. Does the person have the skill set that we are looking for. Second, character. Is the person's reputation above board? Third, chemistry. Will the person work well on our staff team? This third quality is probably the most difficult one to assess. Not until the person is on board do we discover fully if the chemistry is there. All three qualities must be present. One of the worst things one could do would be to hire someone when one of these three ingredients is missing and simply hope that he/she improves.

A great advantage of hiring from within is that the person already has a proven track record. We know his/her reputation. We've seen them work in volunteer settings. We know how they get along with people. Bringing someone from the outside is certainly not a bad way of hiring. But it sure is easier to assess someone when you've been "living" with them over a period of time versus getting to know someone through a few interviews and checking references.

I knew it all along--this subject deserves more than one post. So I'll try to do another blog tomorrow to give you some further insights on our hiring principles and practices.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."