Preparing for Church Growth: Why Hiring Can't Wait for the Fall

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As we look at staffing trends for the rest of this year, one thing is clear: Now is the time to hire your key staff members. Our team had the pleasure of hearing from Shawn Lovejoy, founder and CEO of CourageToLead, on trends he's seeing in churches across the country. Here are his predictions for 2021 that will impact your staffing strategy this spring, summer and fall.

Church Growth Is Coming

In the fall of 2021 into 2022, we're expecting rapid growth for a lot of churches. People will be seeking community and hope from the church more than ever after a year of challenges and isolation. However, preparation is key, and it's vital for you to prepare now in order to be ready for the inevitable growth that's coming. If you're discouraged by a lack of growth right now, God might be calling you into a season of preparation during this time. It's a good idea to spend your energy getting ready for the coming season. Shawn shared that he believes Jesus wants to see church growth even more than we do, but he may be graciously allowing us time to prepare before he acts.

William Bridges' book, Transitions, talks through the often uncomfortable seasons of waiting. Rather than spending this season disappointed or disconnected, think about the areas where you can innovate, change and create better solutions for moving forward.

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What can you tangibly do now to prepare for the future to ensure you and your team are ready to effectively and efficiently respond to the many ways your church may experience growth?

Get Your Team in Tact

If church growth is expected this fall, it's critical to spend this spring identifying, recruiting and hiring for the roles you're missing on your church staff. Onboarding doesn't happen overnight, and people are already burned out, so getting a new staff member in the groove may take even longer than normal. Starting this process now will also prevent new team members from being immediately overwhelmed and unprepared in their new roles as soon as they join. Allow them to get comfortable with their role before growth comes, so they have plans and preparations in place when the time comes to hit the ground running.

Some of the roles we're seeing increased demand for include communications specialists, IT/tech/AV roles and online pastors, but many senior pastors are also stepping down after the difficulty of this past year. So check in with your top leadership to ensure you don't need to be planning for major staffing changes as well.

You don't want to be left shorthanded when attendance rises, the amount of in-person events increase and a thirsty community is looking to you for direction and leadership in the fall.

Reassess Your Mission and Vision

Every ministry within your church should be tied back to your overall mission. This summer, when church attendance trends lower, plan time to take a bird's eye look at your strategy. Where are your financial, physical and staffing resources allocated? Are they helping you reach your goals? Where can you change or improve to better serve your congregation and community?

During this season of change, it's a great time to ask God where you can shift your efforts and focus your time to maximize your resources. When fall comes, you'll want to have your strategy in line and feel confident in the direction of your mission moving into a season of growth.

Conduct a Culture Check-In

As you prepare for growth, now is the time to check in with your current staff to ensure your culture is aligned with your vision and you have a healthy staff. If there are changes or improvements to make in terms of your culture, now is the time to assess and act in those areas. Your staff went through an enormous amount of change in the past year and may have some feedback that you need to hear in order to boost morale and retain your most valuable team members.

Especially as you consider restructuring and hiring new staff, you want to ensure you're providing an attractive environment that encourages retention. Elements like work-life balance, flexibility and community will be critical aspects of culture in the coming months after an overwhelming year packed with uncertainty.

Knowing how to analyze your culture accurately can feel daunting; however, with the right tools, resources and strategies you can evaluate your culture in an effective way. To get a feel for how your staff is holding up, start with our free Culture Tool to dive deeper and gain insight into your staff culture. You can also walk through my book Culture Wins: The Roadmap to an Irresistible Workplace with your leadership team for ideas on how to create and maintain a thriving culture.

William Vanderbloemen is the CEO and founder of Vanderbloemen, which serves teams with a greater purpose by aligning their people solutions for growth: hiring, compensation, succession and culture. Through its retained executive search and consulting services, Vanderbloemen serves churches, schools, nonprofits, family offices and Christian businesses in all parts of the United States and internationally. Follow him on Twitter @wvanderbloemen.

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