Adding a second paid person to a church staff is a momentous occasion for a church plant. But who is the right person to add? A paid worship leader? A children’s ministry director? A youth pastor? An assistant? The ultimate answer to this question is contextual, but here are five considerations for making the best decision possible.

1. Add a person who complements the gifting and skill set of the lead planter.

Church planters often have a particular gifting and skill set that includes the willingness to take risks, and the ability to start something from scratch. But not all church planters are gifted in the same ways. When adding a second paid staff person, first consider the gifting of the lead or planting pastor. What kind of person would complement his gifting and skill set? Do you need an administratively gifted person? Do you need someone who can build systems and structures?

Adding a second paid person to a church plant staff is a momentous occasion. But who is the right person to add?

Self-awareness is key to knowing what kind of person you need to add to the team. It’s a mistake to duplicate the skill set of the lead pastor. Don’t, however, make the mistake of hiring someone who is philosophically different. Rather, hire someone who is philosophically aligned but has different God-given gifting.

2. Consider the needs in your cultural context.

Different cultural contexts indicate different staffing needs for a church plant. An urban church plant will need to staff for urban opportunities. A suburban church plant full of young families with children may find it necessary to add a person who assists with family or children’s ministries. The key here is to know your context and to staff to that context. Don’t hire a person simply because he or she is there. Hire to complement current staff and to address contextual ministry opportunities.

Hire someone who is philosophically aligned but has different God-given gifting.

3. Consider adding an administrative assistant before another ministry leader.

Many planters would be wise to add an assistant as the first staff addition. A planter or pastor who spends hours per week on admin work is giving up precious time that he could invest in pastoral work. For a few hundred dollars per month, you could free up 60 hours of pastoral time by having someone else do the admin. By doing all of your own admin, you are likely working out of your area of gifting and also keeping someone else from what they love to do.

4. Add a person who will continually equip others for ministry.

When adding a staff person, don’t hire a person who does all of the ministry himself or herself, but who trains and launches others into ministry. One example of this mistake is hiring a pastor to do pastoral care. This often means paying a person a full-time salary to spend his whole week with 25-50 people in counseling appointments. Instead, add a person to your team that will train others to do pastoral care and equip small group leaders to care for the people in their groups. Another frequent mistake is hiring a full-time youth pastor to care for 25 kids. Instead, a pastor should be training a team of volunteers to serve the body in this way. Hire people who train and launch others into ministry. Add people to your staff team who involve and equip others to do the ministry.

Hire people who train and launch others into ministry.

5. Consider Character, Competence, and Cultural Fit.

When making your first staff hire, be sure to give attention to the three C’s – Character, Competence, and Cultural Fit. All three are essential for a healthy staff team.

Character: Is this person’s practice consistent with his profession? Has his character been vetted? Have you looked into his background?

Competence: Does this person have the proven skill set to do what he is being asked to do? The best indicator of future performance is past performance.

Cultural Fit: How well does the person fit in the current culture and community? How well does this person fit with the current team and current organization?

Adding a staff person is an important time in the life of a church. Giving careful, prayerful consideration to these five things will lead you toward a better decision.

Brian Howard
Written by: Brian Howard on October 24, 2016

Brian Howard has 25 years of proven leadership experience as a leadership coach, non-profit executive, church planter, lead pastor, and business owner. Brian holds a master’s degree from Talbot School of Theology, has been married for 28 years to the love of his life, and has four children. Brian currently serves as the president of Acts 29.