Church planters are builders. Everywhere we turn we are looking for people to build up and people to help us build. It’s in our DNA. One of my favorite things about what I do is who I do it with. I get to work with some of my best friends. Some of them were friends that became coworkers, and others were coworkers that became friends. We talked last week about when to hire, but today I want to discuss who to hire.

Character over competence.

In his book, What They Didn’t Teach You In Seminary (a book I highly recommend for all pastors), James White discusses his “5 Cs” of hiring: Character, Competence, Catalytic, Chemistry, Called. There’s a lot that can be said about all of that but let me highlight those first two words: character over competence. Competence (skill, ability) is important but it’s less important than character. You’ll be tempted to hire for competence and overlook character flaws. Don’t risk it. The people you hire are the people your church will look to as leaders. If they’re super talented but shady in their practices and lifestyle, you’ll open yourself and your church up to attack. Skill sets are important, but a commitment to live a Godly life is most important.

Create a “dream list” and pray for them.

Taking a play from the Apostle Paul’s playbook, I like to be able to tell my staff that I’m constantly praying for them. I aim to pray for my staff, their spouses, and their kids by name every day. I’m not perfect at it, but that’s my goal. But what if you prayed for people you want to hire? You may not be in a place right now where you can afford to hire someone, but what if you started praying for them anyway? I have a list of people I pray for periodically that I think would make great additions to the Awaken Church staff some day. I’ve gotten to hire a couple of them over the years, and it’s so great to be able to tell them I’ve already been praying for them! Imagine how those prayers prepare you and prepare them to serve together in the future.

Hiring your friends can be good and bad.

As I mentioned earlier, some of my friends became coworkers and all of my coworkers have become my friends. Working with your friends can often be good, but it comes with its own challenges. I’ve discovered that it can often be difficult for people who began as your friends to learn to see you as their boss when you hire them. Things a friend might let slide, an employer can’t let slide. There are times you have to speak differently to your employees than you would to a friend, which can strain the friendship. That shouldn’t necessarily deter you from hiring your friends, but you should be aware of that tension and maybe even address it before you hire. Nate Witiuk was my friend first, then church planting partner, now Executive Pastor. We work really well together because we know how to have tough conversations, disagree on things, and still be friends. We go on double dates with our wives together, but we also process through really challenging ministry situations as coworkers and fellow pastors. It can be done!

Paying is one way to honor a hard worker.

As I mentioned above about praying for future staff, I’m always on the lookout. Very rarely do we hire someone who is not already serving, in an Awaken Group, and committed to the church. There are rare exceptions, but for the most part, we try hard to hire from within. Paychecks should not be the primary way you reward hard work in the church, but it can be a way to do it. There are some people we’ve hired over the years that we created a position for simply because of their loyalty and hard work. When you see one of those rare servants, see if there’s a way to reward them by bringing them on staff. Hopefully you’ll find out that paying them not only is a reward for them, but a reward for you, your staff, and your church!

WHO you hire matters immensely! Pray a lot about it, and only hire when you know it’s right.

K E V I N • M I L L E R

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