Friday, November 17, 2006

Hiring Practices

Our Choir Director Search Committee has reached a decision. Their choice is not the one church/choir member who applied for the position. This person is a gifted musician, very qualified, but not, in the committee's opinion, the very best choice for our congregation at this point in its journey.

She is naturally very disappointed. I believe this will resolve itself in time, but if she or her family or good friends should choose to make waves about this, they could be big waves. I know she is a classy, professional person--but we all know that when we are feeling wounded, we don't always lead with our best qualities.

This brings me to a question. What is the policy where you are on hiring church members? I know some congregations just flat don't do it because of all the potential for hard feelings when members either don't get the job or, even worse, do get the job but it doesn't work out. Other congregations seem to do nothing but hire in house. If you have been on staff at your own church, how did that work out for you? Would you recommend it?


cheesehead said...

Well, against my advice, the Office Admin(hired 8 months after I got here) is a member of the congregation. Here there is a substantial mistrust of "outsiders". I think I am the last "ousider" who will be on staff here for a looooong time.

Unfortunately, I just have to make the best of it. Right now that means spending a significant portion of her 10-hour work week providing her with pastoral care.

Songbird said...

Large Church, where I was a member for fifteen years before and during seminary, did a lot of hiring from within. Then, when the church size shrunk and the staff had to be downsized, church member's jobs were at risk. There is hardly any situation more miserable than that one.
I would never hire from within the congregation, if I were in charge of the world.

Anonymous said...

Our pastor and cantor are "letter of call" positions, so they are both members. Our secretary, sexton and social worker, all full-time, are members of other congregations. However, we recently hired a part-time children's ministry director, who is a member. It's mix and match for our 500 member congregation, but I would say, general rule of thumb, the called staff should be members, and the non-called staff should not be.

Anonymous said...

Had I had an opportunity to lead our Session in a different direction we would hire no members of the congregation in any position. We now have four members of the congregation on the staff; boundaries are crossed left and right and feelings are hurt and division is brewing. The other thing is that performance evaluations tend to be forgotten. And when there are problems . . . guess who has to handle them. Yep, the pastor.

One of the positive things is that there is an informal long-standing "rule" here that members of the congregation who also employed by the church do not get nominated to be on the Session.

Grace and Peace,


Presbyterian Gal said...

My church, tall steeple, had a policy, quite strict, to never hire from the congregation. Over time, however, a few people ended up joining the church, and some support staff positions became filled by members. Then the same pastor, bent his rules (quite wisely in everone's opinion) to hire a new business manager from the congregation, who has turned out to be a great blessing.

I would think it depends on your congregation and staffing needs. It does make elements like reviews and layoffs difficult, but I would think that any person hired in a church would have all possibilities spelled out at the beginning and agreed to.

Good idea about member employees not being on Session.

The Vicar of Hogsmeade said...

I think hiring chuurch members is akin to the poem about the little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead ... when it's good it's very very good and when it's bad it is horid

more cows than people said...

my husband was hired as director of music after a pathetic search effort. its worked out o.k., but ooh... the hiring process was awkward and until this year when we finally have a functional personnel team he never really got an adequate review.

most of our employees are members of other churches and i'm grateful for that.

i pray that the church member who was passed over for your music position responds with grace and poise.

Brittany said...

As a Youth Director working for the same church I grew up in, I can honestly say it's been both a blessing and a curse! I appreciate knowing the history of the church and how things operate but it's definitely tough when being viewed as "so-and-so's daughter" as opposed to the Youth Director who's been in the job 7 years! It's also very startling to realize that the place I used to feel closest to God can now be the very place that I feel farthest away from God as well.

BTW--per Revgals I'm delurking :)

Mary Beth said...

I have no wisdom on it but I feel for you. and the candidate, too.

Happy Delurking Week to one of my favorite bloggy people!

BTW, my secret verification word today is "eensy" as in "Weensy spider." I like that!

Preacher Mom said...

I don't know that there is any way to avoid it, but it can be a real pain sometimes.

My organist is a church member. She has has some serious mental health issues over the past year and has all but lost her abilities. She can play some things, but only after practicing and practicing for hours. She cannot play a hymn unless she has had it in her practice schedule at least a week. Do NOT ask her to play an unfamiliar hymn. Do NOT expect any hymn to be played at any tempo other than funeral dirge.

But she is a member. And thus we are stuck, because most other members would rather tolerate poor music in worship than hurt another member. Which is admirable, I guess. Notice, I didn't mention the effect it has on visitors!!!

Anonymous said...


Susie said...

I agree with Songbird - if I were in charge of the world, I would never hire from within. I would love to see more exchanges between congregations. At my field ed church in seminary, the office manager was a member of another congregation, same denomination - that was a good deal! She understood the denominational stuff, but the congregational dynamincs weren't her congregation. I have seen in-house hiring work... but generally speaking I think its a bad precedent.

Gord said...

WHen I was a teenager/young adult my home church had a full-time secretary who also was an active member and so did volunteer work for the congregation.

The result was that sometimes it was hard for people to know what was and what wasn't "part of the job". And that can easily lead to one being taken for granted.

Your query leads me to another question--what if you hire someone who then joins and becomes a member? Is that the same as hiring a member?

ppb said...

I applied to be choir director of the church where I was a member and elder. At the interview, they told me that if I was offered the position and accepted it, I would have to resign from session and transfer my membership to another church. Their rule was no employee-members working more than 8 hours a week. (The 8 hours was to grandfather in some members that did bookkeeping or paid nursery supervision--very minor things)

I'm so glad I didn't get the job, because I don't know what I would have chosen and I think no matter what I would have decided, it would have been hard and probably at least a little wrong.