Category: Church

Hiring Staff

One of the most exciting times in the life of a church is when they are able to hire new staff. In his book Strategic Disciple Making, Aubrey Malphurs tells us there are three times when churches should recruit staff:

1. When critical things aren’t getting done – because your team is too busy doing other critical things

2. When your church is growing – there are more people and more needs to cover

3. When your church plateaus – it may be stuck at its current size because the staff can only handle so many people, and those who feel uncared for start dropping out, replaced by new ones at the same rate

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you are involved in hiring people:

1. Always be considering where the next hire needs to be. Aubrey Malphurs says the best time to hire someone is before you feel the need. What he means by that is that it is ideal to be able to play offense rather than defense – to be able to fill a spot before the situation becomes critical. When you can stay ahead of the curve, it means that you can take the time to look for the right person without being rushed, and that can help you avoid some mistakes.

2. Keep a file of potential future staff. As you run across promising candidates, keep their names and information in a file that you can pull out quickly in the event of an opening.

3. Have a written job description. Too often a staff member is hired and comes on board having heard one set of expectations for the position, only to find that those don’t match up with the reality. That creates a problem for both the church and the staff member.

In a related thought, make extensive notes in the interview, and then do a follow-up document expressing the major thoughts expressed by both sides. Share it among the committee to be sure there is a consensus that this is really their view, then share it with the candidate. This can help a committee clarify what it is really looking for, and can help the candidate clearly see what the church’s expectations are.

4. Don’t assume you know them well after an interview. Some people are charming and smooth in an interview, but once you get them on the job you discover their primary skill is good interviews. Others may appear shy or less assertive, but you may find they are top workers once they are on board. The interview is helpful, but it is no replacement for talking to people who have worked with the candidate previously.

Another suggestion: always have more than one person participating in an interview with a candidate. Sometimes the whole search committee will be involved, but if not, at least have someone else with you as you do the interview. They can help you observe the candidate, pick up on questionable areas, notice things you may have missed as you are engaged in the conversation.

Some useful interview questions might be, “As a leader, how have you relied on others?” or “How do you compensate for your weaknesses?” (The question, “What are your weaknesses?” always elicits the clichéd response, “I just can’t seem to stop being such a perfectionist.”) Be careful – when someone projects only strength, there’s usually a hidden weakness.

The Power of Words

It happened in the 1840s in Uruguay. The Uruguayan Navy was desperate. They were fending off the navy of an aggressive force from Argentina. They ran out of conventional ammunition and thought their cause was lost. Someone came up with a creative idea. They would use old cheese as ammunition. So they raided the kitchen and loaded their cannons with old, hard Edam cheese and used it as cannonballs. Incidentally, they won the battle.

Is it possible for us to take good things and turn them into weapons? Words can be used to edify or to destroy.

Happy 400th, KJV

Today I’ll be speaking in chapel at Anderson University on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. I’ll be talking about the legacy of English Bible translation, then draw some conclusions:

400 years later, we celebrate the publication of a volume that has shaped a language and a culture, and that continues to touch the lives of every person who uses the English language. Yet our focus should not merely be on the anniversary of a literary achievement.

As those who study and teach at a Christian university, we should use such a time to remind ourselves of the central place the Word of God must have in our university if we are to be faithful to the term “Christian.” To be Christian means to have Christ and His teachings at the center of our institutional values, purpose and practices. And that means having the Word of God at the heart of our institution. A Christian university, to be true to that name, must be a scripture-centered university.

That means more than simply placing a biblical text on a wall or reading a text during chapel services. It means that we recognize that a biblical worldview must shape who we are, what we do and what we teach. It means that in every discipline, we deal faithfully and candidly with what it means to think Christianly, rooted in the truth of God’s Word.

So even as we celebrate 400 years of the life and influence of the King James Bible, let us also celebrate a great future for Anderson University – now 100 years old – as we faithfully build on the foundation given to us in the words of scripture.

Questions before you preach

Speaking at the Radicalis conference, Andy Stanley offered these five questions he asks every week as he preaches. They would be good ones for any of us to ask as we prepare to preach.

  1. Who is this about, really? (As long as the communication is about me, then I will fail in my approach to draw people in…)
  2. What’s my burden? (Dig until you find it.)
  3. Where is the tension? (Boring messages feel irrelevant because no one has elicited any tension in the room.) What is the problem this passage fixes? Where is the tension this passage resolves? Where is the mystery this passage solves?
  4. Do I own this? (Have I internalized this message?)
  5. Am I allowing the text to speak? (Bring your energy to the text. Uncover the energy in the text.)

Defining Expository Preaching

There are many definitions of expository preaching which have been offered over the years, but perhaps the most popular one among evangelicals is the definition of Haddon Robinson, from his book Biblical Preaching: “Expository preaching is the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through the preacher, applies to the hearers.”  I like Robinson’s definition, because it includes several important points of emphasis:

1. Expository preaching seeks to communicate a biblical concept – what Robinson later calls the “Big Idea” of the sermon. We do not preach to share our own imaginative insights or to comment the news and interests of the day; we preach because God has given us His Word, and we have been called to communicate His truth.

2. Expository preaching involves study of the text. It is not a frivolous task to preach. The person who steps to the pulpit without preparation and comments on one verse after another may be doing something, but it is not expository preaching.

3. Expository preaching, like all authentic preaching, is utterly dependent on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Unless the Holy Spirit is in it, it is nothing but a talk; when the Holy Spirit fills and empowers us, it is the proclamation of the Word of God in power.

4. Expository preaching takes the text and applies it to the lives of the listeners (including the preacher). Exposition is not simply teaching what a passage said; it also involves showing what it means in our lives today. There is a strong practical element to expository preaching.

I also appreciate something Robinson added to the second edition of his book Biblical Preaching. He said, “Expository preaching at its core is more a philosophy than a method.” Whether or not we can be called expositors starts with our purpose and with our honest answer to the question, ‘Do you, as a preacher, endeavor to bend your thought to the Scriptures, or do you use the Scriptures to support your thought?’”


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