"Don't Panic!" – Influence Magazine

Don’t Panic!

(Dealing with transition on staff, Part 1)

by Chris Railey

Often I receive emails or phone calls from pastors who are looking to hire new staff members. They want to make good hires, and they’re looking for a referral or a connection to someone who might be a good fit for their team. Word of mouth and personal referrals are still the most frequent ways churches fill staff positions.

I want to spend some time talking to you about how to transition staff members well, but I need to begin with this word of advice: Try to avoid desperation or panic mode when dealing with staff transition. When you do, it can lead to a quick hire who is just not the right fit — or, worse, one who is lacking in character, judgment or integrity.

When pastors focus on speed over quality of hire, they tend to overlook obvious flaws. You might think you can help someone build character later on, or that a candidate will eventually fit into the role. Maybe you can tell that person doesn’t have quite the level of skill you need for the position, but figure you can help train him or her on the job. Now you’ve just given yourself another job to do. Are you prepared to be a full-time mentor as well as a leader?

To keep from going into panic mode every time a staff member transitions away from your team, you need to be ready before that happens. Team members will leave for a variety of reasons, hopefully always positive ones. Some do leave because of a poor decision that disqualifies them, or they are asked to leave because of unmet expectations.

But most people who leave your team will likely go on to another church or ministry opportunity. How you succeed in transitions begins with accepting that you are a steward, not an owner, of the people God brings to your team…