Systems are often the least favorite subject for two different kinds of people: innovators and keepers of the status quo. To the innovator, systems seem antiquated and cumbersome, a quagmire of policies and procedures that will only slow down your church. To the keepers of the status quo, established systems are the only thing between the church and self-destruction, usually at the hands of a rogue staff member. If it ain’t broke, they don’t fix it.
Over time, no church drifts toward simplicity. We have a tendency to add new processes, new paper trails, new policies, and so forth without ever taking the time to call out or kill off what isn’t working. Sometimes things are working just fine; they’re just working differently in each ministry leading to inefficiency, duplication of effort, and confusion. If you want a recruiting culture, you must address your systems holistically.
I personally began to feel this pressure in leading our church toward launching multiple campuses. The stakes were high as we were trying to achieve clarity for our volunteers, leaders, coaches, and staff. That meant almost everything we did had to be examined. Is this process absolutely essential to our mission? Is this process clear? Is this process easily repeatable? Is this process scalable? Has this process been documented in such a way it can be easily transferred to someone else?
One system we had to address was our application and onboarding process for new volunteers and leaders. We weren’t just finding weekly volunteers at one campus. We were identifying, recruiting, and developing volunteers for a location that hadn’t yet launched. Our application process had become extremely siloed and overly complex. We received complaints from people who were filling out multiple applications, though they had served our church for years.
Not only did each ministry area have its own application, but each campus had started to create their own applications as well. When I finally audited all applications (we stopped counting at 26), I also discovered that many were also using different databases. We were not only wasting the time of our staff, we were also wasting the time of our most treasured volunteers and leaders.
Did each ministry area want to change its system? No. Each had a narrow view of their area. If it worked fine for them, they didn’t want to be slowed down by everyone else or make concessions. In order to fix this discrepancy, we had to find real world examples of how frustrating and confusing these varying systems were for our volunteers and leaders as they experienced different onboarding processes in each ministry. While the process was painful, we eventually developed one application that covered 80 percent of what everyone needed and allowed them to ask additional questions or add an addendum if necessary. We also created a role description template for everyone to use that contained core competencies and responsibilities for each level of our leadership pipeline. As you can imagine, this greatly increased our ability to recruit and onboard volunteers and leaders. I could sit down with a potential volunteer and show one role profile, one application, and what to expect in the onboarding process, providing clarity and making the experience much better for everyone.
Consider a couple of your best leaders who are serving in multiple ministry areas. Make a mental audit of what this person has experienced in recruiting, applying, interviewing, onboarding, and training in each ministry area.
- Was there clarity and alignment across ministry areas in role profiles, expectations, communications, forms, and processes?
- What ministry areas at your church will have the most difficulty coming to the table to clarify and align areas throughout your church?
- What can you do to help the leaders of these areas see the need for change?
- How will it become painful or compelling enough for them to make the change?
This is an excerpt from Creating and Curating a Recruiting Culture by Todd Adkins. Learn more about creating a culture of recruiting in your church and download the full booklet here.