“You’re Fired!” (Part 2)

This series is examining the hire/fire structure most churches use for staffing.  Here’s a brief overview of how that works.  First, the hiring:

  • A church has a staff need to fill.
  • The church advertises the need through various networks–word of mouth, Bible colleges/seminaries, publications, even classified ads in newspapers.
  • Prospective candidates send in resumes and various other items, such as sermon tapes/videos.
  • Prospective candidates are interviewed by a “search committee,” who’s job is to search for a suitable candidate to fill the staffing position.
  • In the case of a preacher (and I’ve even heard of it in cases of youth ministers), the prospective candidates who pass inspection with the search committee will come and preach a “trial sermon”.
  • The congregation then votes on whether or not the prospective candidate should be their new staff person.
  • If not, the process starts again.  If so, the new guy comes on board.  If he’s lucky, he’ll sign a contract binding the church legally to their agreement (this doesn’t always happen).

The process varies by denomination or church, but this is basically how it goes.

Second, the firing:

  • Church leadership receives complaints from members of the congregation about the staff member.   Usually, the complaint is about the staff member’s ministry/speaking style, or things that the member thinks the staff person should do, but isn’t… or isn’t doing the way the member feels it should be done.
  • If the staff member is lucky, he’ll get a chance to explain the situation and correct it.
  • In many cases, he doesn’t get that opportunity.
  • He’s fired.  Immediately.  Without severance pay.  Chances are his salary wasn’t that much anyway, which means he and his family are up the creek financially until he can find another position.
  • ALTERNATE VERSION:  The staff member is immediately fired for moral indiscretion such as sexual sin or financial fraud.

Tomorrow, I’ll post about the pros and cons of this system.  In the meantime, what are your thoughts on this process.  Anything I missed?  Another angle that needs to be mentioned?  Comment to your heart’s content.


About Aaron

Aaron is a follower of Jesus. He's married to his smokin' hot wife Laura and is the father of three adorable girls. He enjoys a robust cigar, a complex root beer, a good movie, writing, football, thought-provoking books, and rousing discussions about subjects you're not supposed to talk about (like theology and politics). Religious people irritate him (because he once was one). He's on a quest to find the perfect dry rub and sauce for ribs.
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4 Responses to “You’re Fired!” (Part 2)

  1. Doug Talley says:

    Man, where do I begin? First, if a church member has a complaint and they go to the leadership. the leader(s) should encourage them to go to the person (in this case the preacher) just as the scriptures say, and then back away until they see how that “plays out”.

    Second, if the elders are truly the spiritual leaders of their flock, they should pray about and decide on who God would have to be the preacher, or just rotate and deliver the sermons themselves without a paid staffer (in an ideal scenario). I do not believe there should be a congregational vote on things such as this!

    There ar tons more points to be made, but I wrote this quickly with what struck me immediately. Love your blog brother!

  2. Michael Morris says:

    The Bible is pretty clear that when someone has wronged another, they should immediately be removed from their position in the community and ostracized without any personal interaction.

    No wait, that isn’t in the Bible…how odd. I could have sworn that was the way Matthew 18 said we should interact with a brother or sister who has done wrong in our eyes.

    I find it “interesting” that the pastorate preaches forgiveness and restoration to the congregation, but often fails to implement such a model in normal church practices.

  3. Justin says:

    Dude, Doug Talley has been telling me to read your blog for months, and I finally did!

    I’m in professional ministry just went through a mess of an ordeal last year. After being a youth minister at a small church for almost three years, due to budget constraints, my salary was cut in half and I was encouraged to find another ministry. (Or a “step up.”) What made this ackward was that our senior minister was generously paid, and not a penny was cut from his pay, even though I had been there longer.

    Anyways, I keep saying I’ve been wanting to write a pamphlet about how a church should go about hiring a new minister, because I find my hiring process to be an absolute nightmare in some instances. It took a major toll on my marriage and my wife’s faith.

    Churches didn’t follow up, would leave me hanging for months. Churches wouldn’t give me a chance because they were reading their situation into my resume and interview, and not realizing the ministry i was coming from was completely different. (For example, a church that ran 600 in bible school attendance couldn’t get over the fact that I was honest enough to say my Sunday school program had died. At my current church, only about 27-30 people attended Sunday school and none of them were parents of teenagers! Of course my Sunday school wasn’t doing well!) I was offered an interview at one church, but then a few weeks later the search committee made their youth minister tell me through email that they were denying me an interview, with no real explanation. At one church, they made it sound like I had the job, even brought me in front of the students, but then hired another guy. Wow, this probably sounds like people were turned off by me or something but these stories have more to do with a broken system, and not handling things with excellence.

    Anyways, this stuff hits home. Good thoughts!

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