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Church Staff  

Church Staff

Running a church is a lot of work. It can be a drain on a pastor emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. As a church grows, one of the options that become available is to hire a larger staff. After all, many hands make for light work, right?


While that’s true in the long run, though, the process of staffing a church can be draining in its own way. It takes a lot of effort to identify your needs, create a position to address them, and then find the right person to fill that position.


If you dive into the process of staffing your church without creating a plan beforehand, it can sap even more of your strength — strength that most church leaders don’t have to spare.


That’s why we’ve created this resource. The goal here is to provide you with a comprehensive outline of all things that have to do with a church staff member. Some of the topics even have their own additional articles that break them down into greater detail. 


The goal is to leave no stone unturned when effectively staffing a church. We want to walk with you throughout each and every step of the process and leave you with actionable information that you can turn around and apply within your own organization.


So, without further ado, let’s dive into staffing a church, starting with why we staff a church in the first place and often needs more than Pastors.

Why invest in church staffing?

Church Staff Needs

It’s easy to recognize the need to create a group of like-minded individuals to help your ministry run. But when formalizing the hiring process is brought up, it often leads to skeptical glances and rolled eyes.


My question is, why?


Why would you treat hiring in a structured 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization as anything but a formal activity? I’ll tell you one thing. Hiring staff, both full and part-time, isn’t the kind of thing that you want to do flippantly. 


As is the case with running your own business, you don’t want to onboard the first person who shows interest. Family and friends are fun, but are they qualified to help you in this ongoing labor of love?


If you’re on the fence regarding how much you should invest in your ministry’s recruitment efforts, here are a few facts to consider:


The pros of having a good church staff


If you have a good church staff, it allows your ministry to tap into a lot of benefits that don’t come automatically the moment you open your church’s doors. For instance, a quality group of employees should be able to consistently:


  • Reflect and represent your church’s mission and vision.
  • Show new visitors that your ministry is vibrant and filled with purpose.
  • Demonstrate to long-time congregants that you’re invested in the long-term health of both their own spiritual condition and your community as a whole.


On top of these outward-facing benefits, a thoughtfully chosen church staff also benefits the organization itself. When you take a reasonable amount of time to choose each member of your staff, it can create positive momentum and inner synergy within your church.


Alright. It’s pretty easy to make the case for why a church staff is a powerful addition to a ministry. But the truth is, a church staff also costs time, money, and effort to muster. These are things that many ministries don’t have or won’t allocate resources toward, so they choose to go without. 


The question is, what happens if you choose not to staff your church, even when you’ve reached a point where your size or growth demand it? Let’s look at some of the not-so-great stuff that comes from trying to go it alone in your church…


The cons of not having a good church staff


When Pastors neglect to staff the church adequately, it can lead to a number of challenging situations. For instance, if you avoid adding to your staff or even hire someone thoughtlessly, you may find that you:


  • Pastors Are still taking on too much of the work.
  • Hired the wrong person through a rushed or sloppy hiring process.
  • Set up a situation that can lead to division within the church.
  • Wandered from your original mission through competing visions and goals. 


Some of these are minor hurdles. Others are absolute deal-breakers. Regardless, you don’t want to have to deal with any of them.


That’s why you want to spend some serious time not just considering candidates for your staff. You also want to invest in setting the stage for your hiring efforts, too.


With that in mind, let’s go over the church staff member process one step at a time. There are a lot of stages here, but I’ve provided a nifty content guide below so that you can jump from one section to the next as needed.

Church Staffing Content Guide


  • Pray
  • Identify your ministry’s needs
  • What roles can meet your church’s needs?
  • Create a hiring team
  • Pull together the job description
  • Make a hire
  • Things to do after a hire

Alright, ready to deepen your knowledge on church staffing? Let’s get started. 


1. Pray, pray, pray


You saw this one coming, right? Prayer is the first and last step of the hiring process. Make sure to bathe every step in between in supplications to God, as well.


Ask for the Lord’s guidance and clear wisdom as you consider your church’s needs. Focusing on God’s will can do two things.


First, it can give you direct, spiritual guidance about who you should hire. This is important even for the smallest of positions within your ministry.


Second, it can help you remove any personal filters and biases that may be in place. While it’s okay to have opinions, you don’t want these to sway who God brings into your ministry to labor alongside you.


2. Identify your ministry’s needs


The next step in the staffing process is to identify what your ministry needs. This may sound obvious, but there’s a big difference between noticing a specific area where you need help and figuring out a full or part-time position that properly fills that need.


For instance, if you find that you’re a lead pastor of a small but growing church and you’re spending a lot of time filling in your website event calendar. That’s a need. You could use the help of an administrative assistant to take that off your plate.


But wait, there’s also the fact that you’re spending 30 hours a week counseling. Oh, and you come in early on Saturdays to assemble the bulletin and send it out. Plus, you also send out the daily devotional emails, mow the lawn at church every week in the summer, shovel snow in the winter — heck, you even clean the bathrooms once in a while. Don’t forget about the 10 to 20 hours a week you spend prepping and preaching your sermon too. 


Geez. You’re a busy person.


The problem with the list above is that you’re not busy doing one person’s responsiblies, either. You’re dabbling in half a dozen different roles, at the least! 


This is why the first step has to be creating a detailed breakdown of your church’s needs. What is it that your church needs done? What tasks are you or your current employees doing that aren’t ideal or efficient? What are things being ignored or missed entirely because you just don’t have the manpower to get them done?


Don’t be shy. Include everything you can think of. You might need something obvious like cleaning the building every week. But what about something more nuanced? Have you wanted to start sending short-term missions out on a regular basis? Do you need a better social media presence in your local community? What about setting up a young adults ministry? Members management... Pastoral Care?


Whatever the need might be, it’s worth adding to your list. Don’t worry, I’m not going to recommend that you hire someone to do everything on there and just figure out the bill down the road.


My point is that you want to have all of these needs on your radar as you proceed through the church staff member process. By making a list, you can prioritize needs while keeping them all in mind. Sure, hiring a pastor to help with a young adult ministry or hiring a full-time tech person may not be in the cards at the moment, but at least it’s on the list for when the time comes.


Other need factors to consider


Now, before we move on, there are a couple of other factors that you want to consider as they relate to your ministry’s needs.


The first is your church’s mission. You probably have a vision statement or a similar document that briefly and effectively states your goals and hopes as a ministry, right? These are the times when pulling that out and re-reading it can be useful.


Staffing your church is a big deal. You and your administrative staff are taking resources that you’ve been entrusted with and selecting the places to allocate them. And in most cases, we aren’t talking about a few hundred dollars, either. Even though (in our humble opinion) church staff is woefully underpaid, you’re still talking about salaries that can range well into the tens of thousands of dollars.


Make sure that every hire you make aligns with your church mission.


We can’t emphasize this enough. For the record, this doesn’t mean you’re only allowed to prioritize spiritual hires. For goodness sake, don’t leave the toilets covered in filth because you want to hire a fifth assistant pastor.


All we’re saying is, whether it’s logistics, administrative needs, or the spiritual stuff, make sure you’re reinforcing your ministry’s mission each and every time you choose to make a hire.


The other thing to consider is your church’s size. Now, we’ve found through our own research that, on average, you should have a full-time hire for around every 75 attendees. We’ve also heard — although we don’t personally see the books — that roughly half of a church’s income tends to go toward personnel needs. And we think that makes a lot of sense.


That said, every church’s needs are different. You might have a bigger focus on counseling, which could require more individuals at higher salaries. Maybe you have a seeker-friendly model that manages to stoke a lot of volunteerism and you don’t need as many full-timers on staff.


If you’re working with a smaller church, we recommend reading through this detailed breakdown by Brian Jones over at Senior Pastor Central. Brian goes step by step through the staffing considerations of churches from under 100 congregants all the way up to 600 attendees.


Okay, so let’s recap. The first step in your church staff members effort is to deeply, and seriously consider your ministry’s needs. Be both detailed and organized. Consider spiritual needs, practical concerns, and everything in between.


Once you have a list in place, prioritize your needs. Also, consider things like the size of your church, what you can afford, and how each of your top needs relates to your church’s overall mission.


3. What roles can meet your church’s needs?


Once you have your needs identified, it’s time to find the different church-based roles that can fill them.


Now, just to be clear, there isn’t an airtight formula or set of obvious positions that you’re going to need to fill. Some sites will suggest five or six “key positions” that every ministry should staff. We’re not even going to do that.


Don’t misunderstand. There are critical parts of a church that need to be manned by good people. We’re talking about things like praise and worship, children’s ministries, and administrative work. But often these can be covered by volunteers or even outsourced in the case of something like accounting (more on that later).


We’re not going to tell you which positions you need to fill first. Our guess is that, if you aren’t paying a senior pastor yet, that will probably be where you start. But after that, you really need to do your own due diligence regarding your church’s needs and let the Holy Spirit guide you through the process.


So, rather than get formulaic, in this part of the guide, we’re going to focus on outlining some of the most common church staff members position we’ve seen. There are a lot of titles on this list, and many of them definitely overlap with one another. Still, these (or slightly altered versions) are all positions that are commonly found at different churches around the country. Let’s take a look at each one and quickly go over roughly what they entail in most cases.


Common church staff positions for any size church


Let’s start with the prevalent positions in large and small churches.


Senior Pastor:


This is the top dog in your ministry (although you often don’t want to tell them that). A good head pastor is a humble leader that is able to teach, oversee, and generally guide your ministry toward its larger, God-given purpose.


Solo Pastor:


This is a slight variation on the senior pastor role. For many tiny congregations, a solo pastor is the staff. They might have a part-time assistant, but other than that, the buck stops with them. Anything that a paid employee would do falls on their mighty yet strained shoulders.


Church Administrator:


This is the operational centerpiece of a church. They’re the organizational crossroads where planning and execution meet. They help turn vision and planning into reality and are often high up in the planning and decision-making of the church as far as day-to-day operations are concerned.


Church staff positions for growing churches


Along with the basic positions outlined above, there are many smaller “break out” roles that come into play as your ministry grows. These often go under many different names and can have different shared duties. Here are some of the most common:


Marketing and Communications Director:


Marketing is often seen as a “dirty word” in church circles. But the truth is, putting up a sign, hosting outreach events, and even asking your congregants to invite others all fall under the banner of “church marketing.” Hiring a director to oversee how you market your church can help your church grow. This can lead to additional hires, such as an associate pastor, worship director, and youth pastor — all of which help shoulder the burden of a senior pastor in a thriving congregation.




A receptionist takes on part of the role of a church administrator. Typically, they focus on clerical tasks such as answering phones, documentation and record-keeping, communications, and receiving guests.


Accountant or Treasurer:


The larger a church gets, the more important it is to have someone in place to formally oversee the finances. For some organizations, this is an accountant. For others, it’s a treasurer who oversees financial activity without getting overly involved in it. The latter can be the case if you choose to hire an outside firm to manage your larger accounting needs, such as taxes or payroll.


Operations Pastor:


For larger congregations, an operations pastor can provide a “boots on the ground” leadership aspect. They fill the leadership role on-site and help to support other staff members, volunteers, and even attendees during planned ministry events and activities.


Executive Assistant:


An executive assistant is another aspect of a church administrator role that can be spun out into its own position as needed. They can provide direct, targeted support to leaders and staff members that are in authority positions as they go about their daily activities within your ministry.


Programming Director:


The role of a programming director focuses on — you guessed it — your church’s programs. They oversee everything from the research and planning phases on through marketing, development, and finally implementation and follow-up.


Administrative Director:


An administrative director is very similar to a church administrator role. In fact, in many cases, they are practically synonymous, as administrative directors tend to focus on any and every responsibility that can help your ministry function in a smooth and effective manner.


Children’s Ministry Director:


Children’s ministry roles tend to be filled by volunteers early on in a church’s existence. If a church becomes large enough, though, it may feel the need to establish a part-time or even full-time position for someone to oversee all of the various programs and events geared toward the younger attendees within the church.


Adult Ministry Pastor:


Often children’s church and youth pastor roles are filled first. But as a church grows, there comes a time when many organizations will also bring on a pastor specifically to minister to adults within the congregation.


Church Secretary:


A church secretary is another role that can come from that epic crossing of ways known as the church administrator. Much like an executive assistant, many ministries will hire a church secretary to help with clerical work and pick up slack whenever and wherever it’s needed.


Communications and Media Director:


Many larger churches have complex, tech-driven rigs that help their services flow smoothly. The problem is making sure that the rigs themselves don’t break down. That’s where a Communications and Media Director comes into the picture. They can oversee all of the technical details, from video and sound production to live streaming, lighting, stage productions, and anything else that falls under the potentially massive umbrella of backstage production responsibilities.




Smaller churches can ask for volunteers to help clean. However, as your building grows, so do your cleaning needs. Eventually, bringing an official custodian onto your staff may become well worth the investment.


Facilities Manager:


Larger churches require bigger buildings. These massive edifices can become too much for a single custodian to handle. In addition, there are often complex elements, such as sprinkler and alarm systems, that require scheduled maintenance and oversight. A facilities manager can provide a single, comprehensive set of eyes that watches over your church’s physical functionality on a daily basis.


Volunteer Coordinator:


Volunteerism is a crucial aspect of a vibrant church. While many hands make light work, though, unorganized volunteers can be inefficient — and at times, even unhelpful. If you’re regularly dealing with a lot of volunteers, you may need a Volunteer Coordinator to help keep everyone’s efforts focused on the right areas.


Christian Education Pastor:


From deeply spiritual studies to counseling-related topics and much more, there are many educational aspects of a ministry. If your church is offering a lot of academic study opportunities, you may want to create an official Christian Education Pastor role to oversee the effort.


Associate Pastor:


An associate pastor is a minister who works alongside the lead pastor or senior pastor of a church. The responsibilities of an associate pastor can vary depending on the specific needs of the church and the skills and expertise of the individual associate pastor. The associate pastor role is critical for pastoral care and, at many churches, leads the pastoral staff


Just to reiterate, these are just some of the different roles and titles used in church staff members. While there are endless variations out there, this list should give you a rough idea of some of the ways you can hire personnel to fill the different needs within your ministry.


4. Create a hiring team


Alright. That was a lot of different positions to take in all at once. And it can feel overwhelming going over all of the different roles that you can use to fill your church’s needs.


That’s why you need a hiring team to help you.


Just because you’ve put your finger on the pulse of your organization and have a list of nifty church staff titles handy doesn’t mean you’re ready to make a decision. 


If you’re a solo pastor looking to hire an assistant, you might have to dig deep, pray, and make the decision, well …solo. But in most cases, you’re going to want to have others nearby to help you make each hiring decision.


If you’re wondering who you should have on your hiring team, the answer is the right people. Just who those people are, though, likely depends on your particular situation. Most churches have a board of Elders that can help with the process. Others might have a formal denominational process or even an outside administration group within your denomination that can help guide the proceedings.


The important thing is that you look around you and do your best to assemble a crack hiring team whenever possible. Make sure to recruit people you can trust. They should be:


  • Insightful: You want people on your hiring team with a good reputation for being able to gauge character.
  • Honest: You don’t want your hiring team to be made up of “yes men” who are going to simply validate a leader’s recommendation.
  • Invested: Make sure to create a group of individuals who understand the importance of the role you’re filling and can take the search seriously.


A hiring team may feel unnecessary, especially if you’re filling a smaller role or an administrative position. But it’s a part of the hiring process that is always worth the hassle.


A hiring team can bring different perspectives and experiences to the table. It helps ensure that you make wise and thoughtful decisions for your ministry.


5. Pull together the job description


At this point, you’ve assessed your needs, considered the roles that fill them, and created a hiring team to help you make sound judgments. 


Now it’s time to create an employees responsibility description that will attract the right candidates. The specific layout of your church staff description can vary. (Don’t they always?) What’s really important is that you have the right information in the description. This should include a few different items:


The qualifications for the position


There are many qualifications that can factor into a church position. A few that easily come to mind include:


  • Academic qualifications: What kind of degrees, certifications, licensures, or even internships can help prove someone is right for church staff and even pastoral staff?
  • Theological qualifications: What specific church beliefs and values are particularly important in the context of the position you’re creating a church staff description for?
  • Cultural fit: What kind of church do you have? Do you have certain cultural aspects that you identify with? If so, do they impact this particular position?


These are just a few examples. Make sure to thoroughly consider the qualifications that you want to put in place. Don’t be shy to include important things. At the same time, don’t go overboard or you’ll create a description that is so elite that no one can actually qualify for it.


The responsibilities that the position entails


We already saw how many different names and variations of ministry positions are out there. This can make it hard to communicate specifically what kind of position you’re hiring, even when you use a recognizable title.


That said, always make sure to include any and all responsibilities that your particular position might entail. That way, when a candidate reads through the description, they can quickly ascertain if they’re willing to fill that function or role within your ministry.


The compensation included


As already mentioned earlier, church jobs don’t have a reputation for coming with lavish paychecks. 


All the same, in our opinion, it’s worth being up-front and transparent about your compensation for a position. That way you save both your own time and the time of any potential candidates who wouldn’t accept a salary under a certain threshold.


If you plan on paying within a certain range depending on things like experience or qualifications, you can simply state the range, too. Just do your best to be honest when it comes to compensation. That way, your relationship with your new employee can start out on the right foot.


Consider additional factors


Finally, consider any other factors you might want to have from a candidate. For instance, if you’re not sure about salary, you may want to ask them to include their desired salary with their application. 


A cover letter is another option that can help add some unique aspects to each candidate. Referrals can also help you gain a better idea of how others see a candidate.


6. Make a hire


The time has finally come. You’re ready to bring in the candidates and make a hire. This starts with posting the need and description.


Post your job description in the right places


Once you have a job description fleshed out and ready to go, you can post it for all of the world to see.


One way to do this is by going to websites dedicated to helping ministries hire, like Church Staffing or Church Jobs Online.  Another option is to post the job locally or invite specific candidates from within your church’s network or even your congregation itself.


As you start to get responses to your job advert, you need to put on your game face. As much as is possible, don’t let your emotions guide you. (This is where a good hiring team can help you stay focused.) 


As candidates throw their hats into the ring, do your best to narrow the options down. We recommend aiming for around 10 total candidates to start the next phase of the hiring process.


Screen candidates and conduct interviews


Once you have your top 10 candidates, it’s time to narrow the playing field even further. 


You can start by screening each candidate’s application with a more stringent set of parameters or, if you have the time, you can dive right into initial interviews. 


If you have a significant number of options, you may want to start with phone interviews. Once you’ve narrowed the search down to two or three individuals, you can consider meeting them in person.


As you work to reduce your options to a select few, keep the following factors in mind:


  • Does the candidate’s situation align with the biblical standards laid out in Timothy 3?
  • What past experience does each candidate have, if any?
  • Are they in the process of something like ordination?
  • Are they morally and ethically sound individuals?
  • Do they have key characteristics, such as integrity, humility, commitment, communication, and overall spiritual health?
  • Do you need to conduct a background check for this particular position?
  • Above all, are they the right person for your unique needs?


Questions like these can help you make each hire with clear expectations in mind. You can and should communicate this to your candidates, as well, as you go through each step of the process together.


Once you’ve gone through screenings and interviews, the time has officially come to pick someone and hire them. Remember to give your entire hiring team plenty of time to pray, discuss, and consider each candidate before making a final decision. Then, when the time comes, make your selection with confidence.


7. Things to do after a hire


By this point, you probably feel a nice sense of relief, right? You’ve got your candidate. You probably feel pretty good about how they fit into your ministries, too. But you aren’t quite done yet.


It’s critical that you do everything you can to set a new member of your staff up to succeed within their new responsibilities. You can do this in several ways, such as:


  • Making quality introductions: Don’t just toss your new staff member into the “blender” of your daily ministries. Take the time to introduce them to each person they’ll be interacting with.
  • Equip them with the right tools: Ministry tools can vary dramatically. An assistant pastor that will be doing a lot of counseling might need a good office with plenty of privacy. A facility manager will need passwords, keys, and maintenance equipment. A Communications and Media Director will need to know what electronic equipment they can use and what programs they come with. You get the idea.
  • Coach and teach them: The transfer of knowledge is important when starting a job. Even if someone is entering a newly created position in your ministry, consider what information or experiential lessons you and others have available that you can show them to help them start out strong.
  • Give them grace: Finally, remember that grace is always important to exhibit between staff members — especially in the church, for goodness sake. Always model the grace and patience of Jesus Christ as you interact with new members of your staff.


Along with these tips, we recommend planning specific, scheduled follow-ups with your new staff member. Try to touch base a month or so after they get started to see how they’re doing.


Use this opportunity to inquire if they need any further support or clarification. In addition, ask for any feedback they might have to help you refine your church’s hiring process in the future.


Additional tips for a healthy church staff experience


This final section is here to answer any straggler questions and topics that didn’t fit into the main hiring rundown above. If you have any other questions about church staff, feel free to contact us. We’d love to chat!


  • Pray, pray, pray: Yes, we already said this at the beginning. But we also said to remember it at the end …and throughout the process, too. Never cease your prayers! Including when making a hire.
  • Take your time: It’s tempting to rush through the formalities of hiring a church staff member. Getting the “businessy stuff” out of the way is nice, but if you rush the process it can lead to issues in the future. Always take your time.
  • Consider internal candidates first: There are a lot of quality candidates in the global talent pool. The internet has made all of these individuals potential options when hiring, too. But never overestimate the value of tapping into a local, invested member of your congregation — if they fit the position you’re looking for, of course.
  • Don’t be afraid to outsource: Outsourcing is an excellent way to meet church needs without breaking the bank. Obviously, the specific need matters here. Don’t outsource your pastoral roles. But things like financial work or even referring congregants to a reputable Christian counselor can be excellent outsourcing options when you can’t afford to hire someone to fill a need.
  • Resist the need for perfection: There is no such thing as the perfect candidate. Don’t trick yourself into acting like they’re out there. Work with whoever the Lord brings across your ministry’s path. …and keep praying!
  • Don’t overwhelm candidates with unnecessary minutiae: It’s easy to blindside a candidate with too much info after they’re hired. Even during the hiring process, try to keep the information targeted and constructive at all times.
  • Make sure there is accountability: This returns to the idea of a hiring team. Accountability is important throughout a ministries. Even if you’re hiring solo, make sure to do what you can to set up some accountability for your decisions.


These tips can help you stay on the straight and narrow as you make each hire and build your ministry over the years.


While the seven steps outlined above are good guidelines, use them as just that: guidelines. Consider your unique circumstances, and lean on your hiring team to help you overcome any major hurdles along the way. 


And above all, remember to keep the Lord at the heart of the process. If you can do that, you’ll be able to assemble a powerful team of Kingdom workers that can serve as the nucleus of your ministry in the future.

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