LeadingSmart

Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

Interview with William Vanderbloemen & Justin Lathrop

If you've read my blog for long, you know I'm an advocate of hiring from within. I've seen too many problems when churches go outside their congregation hoping to get some fresh ideas. Too often, there is a collision between DNA and new ideas--and a trainwreck ensues. But lately I've been tracking a couple guys in the "church staff search" business. Some of my friends have been working with them, other friends have utilized their services, and everyone seems excited about what they are doing. But, still skeptical, I decided to ask them some questions...

Tim: I’ve never been a fan of church staff search organizations. I see so many churches mess up by getting someone on board who doesn’t have the vision or DNA of the church—and then there is trouble down the road.

William Vanderbloemen: I couldn't agree more Tim. When I was Senior Pastor of a church of 5000, we used a search firm. The process and result was horrible. In fact, a lot of what we do at our firm now was born out of frustrations back then! I think that if a firm has real time church experience, top-notch search experience, and a heart for the church then the process can work. That's why we've built the team and process we have built, and we've seen it at work. The vast majority of our clients enter the process worried that a consultant "won't get our DNA." It's a valid concern, but one that we have addressed with training. And the result is that those same clients end the process saying, "You really got us!" Once we can "get" a DNA, we are able to put our objectivity and our network to use to bring a result that has pleased a lot of great churches.

Tim: Are there certain positions where you encourage the leadership to look within, and others where you encourage them to look outside the church?

Justin Lathrop: There is no question that there are times when the best person for the job is going to be an internal candidate. I have hired many staff for my home church where I serve as an executive pastor. Some have been internal and some have been external. I have never known 100% that the internal candidate was the one until I exhausted every option.

Tim: Hypothetically, let’s say a church in northern Indiana has 75 staff members, and 72 have been hired from inside. Is that an unhealthy situation? (Be nice).

William: Hypothetically, I'm sure it's a great church.....

Actually, I'm in favor of hiring from within and believe everyone should do it! I just think that there needs to be balance. Only hiring from within leads to a pretty insular culture and makes things more and more difficult to change over time. I grew up in Western NC; - near where "Deliverance" was filmed. I know first hand that breeding from within leads to problems!

Seriously, having a mix of hiring from outside and inside brings balance, new ideas, and a healthy strength to the church. Only hiring from within was a big trend in top US businesses....about 30 years ago. Corporate America has figured out the need for both insiders and outsiders and has adopted a much more balanced approach to hiring than it did in the 1950's and 1960's. I believe the church could benefit from such a balance too.

Justin: Lifechurch.tv is a church we work closely with. They are big believers of hiring from within as well. I love the post Craig did several years back though on the advantages he has seen from hiring externally.

Tim: So , what are these rumors I've heard of changes in your organization?

William: We've united, and that's a good thing! I've known Justin for about as long as I've been doing search and watched his company grow. He's a great guy with a real gift. I've also noticed that he's really good at mid-level searches, which were searches we weren't really focused on. We talked for a while about referring searches to each other and then it dawned on us that it would be better to do this together. So now, we never have to tell a client "we can't help you." Whether it's our traditional Senior and executive level searches or mid-level, we can help staff the Church. And we love getting to do that!

Justin: I am naturally a partnership guy. The first thing I think of when I feel like God has given me a dream is “who can I partner with to make that dream possible?” William and Vanderbloemen Search Group was a natural fit because we have similar hearts to see the Kingdom of God expand in a greater way through key staffing.

Hiring from inside has served us well here at Granger. But I do think there are times when an outside hire might make sense. And now that Help Staff Me and Vanderbloemen Search Group are united--the resulting partnership can serve you really well when you need them, whether for a youth pastor or lead pastor.