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How to recruit a team to change the world

Rebecca Stewart and Jo Glen are founder and partner of Goldstar Partners, a headhunting firm finding distinctive talent for the non-profit sector.  Rebecca previously was Group Chief Executive of the HTB Group and Jo is an experienced educationalist, leader and coach.  Both have been involved in church leadership as Chief Executive of HTB (Rebecca) and HTB Church Warden (Jo).  They are extraordinary women who have taught me endless and invaluable lessons on leadership, work ethic, management and how to flourish in career and life.  I’m indebted to them for all the training and development they have poured into me and I’m extremely grateful to them for the following article!   

Building a team is one of the most important aspects of being a leader. If you are leading a church, or contemplating a church plant, you will have worked out already that you can’t do it alone.  You need to find other brilliant people with whom you can do life and ministry.  Finding capable, inspiring, motivated people is hard. Hanging on to them, allowing them to fulfil their potential, is harder still.


Wonderfully, Jesus gave us a model of how to build a team. He was – and is – the ultimate head-hunter.  He shows us that there are four steps – find, assess, invite, develop and these principles apply both to volunteers and paid staff.  In this article, we are going to concentrate on the recruiting part – how can we spot the stars.  And how can we assess their fit for the role.


Be Intentional.  

The wider church needs the best possible leaders in every area. We should be as intentional as the bird-watcher who walks around with binoculars and telescopes, always alert to a possible sighting.  Finding leaders and team members takes a pro-active, clear and bold approach. 

Jesus was very up-front in calling his disciples.  Take a look at Matthew 4:18-22.  Now that’s a pretty direct approach.  Be intentional. Do it like you mean it.

Be Personal.  

Jesus stepped out and asked them – first Simon Peter and Andrew; and then James and John. He didn’t put up a poster by the side of the Sea of Galilee – asking for volunteers. I wonder if they would have signed up. Probably not. There are so many reasons not to – I’m not sure exactly what the job is; I haven’t got a pen; it probably doesn’t mean someone like me anyway; I’m a fisherman, and feeling rather tired.  But Jesus asked. Not anyone. But someone. Four someones first. And then the others.

Look in Unusual Places.  

The Sea of Galilee, at the edge, where the nets were, where fishermen gathered, a messy smelly kind of nowhere place – a place to find leaders, a team? A place to find the confidantes of the Son of God? Would it not have been better to head into town, somewhere educational, somewhere erudite, somewhere religious?

But we too can look in unusual places, the places where we don’t necessarily expect potential leaders to hang out.

Consider Unusual Profiles.  

We don’t need to look for the person who looks like most people who do this job.  We must watch our unconscious bias. We all have this – a kind of unconscious profiling that takes place in our mind, and should be prayed away daily. Some of us are more likely to be looking for someone extrovert, or apparently deep, or profoundly intellectual, or charismatic in character (whatever that means). But perhaps we should open our eyes to the enormous diversity of human beings God made and loves – both genders, every character type, ethnicity, style, age and vibe… We need churches everywhere serving everyone  This is true of all jobs in the church – children’s workers don’t need to look like children’s workers, and tea-servers don’t need to look like tea servers. And we can challenge the bias in our heads and break out of this limiting kind of thinking. Don’t assume that the person who doesn’t look like the role will say no. The MP may well serve tea (and might find it an enormous relief and blessing); the single hipster might be great with babies.


We start with a given. All human beings are equally valuable and equally loved by God.  Spotting people to do certain jobs does not change that one bit. 

It is obvious that not every person can do every job. At its most basic, we have no difficulty seeing that a two-year-old cannot lead a church, or that somebody with very fragile health may not be right to run the all-night prayer vigil – this is not to be exclusive or judgmental but kind and wise.  There should be no embarrassment in looking for the person whose gifts best suit the job that needs doing.  And we have found ourselves, in the area of assessing potential candidates, indebted to Bill Hybels for his invaluable four Cs- Competence, Chemistry, Calling, Character.  These are fairly self- explanatory.


Competence – does this person have the skills and gifts, in some cases, the training and experience, to do the job? Can the worship leader sing, for example? This will be a help.

Chemistry – will the person fit in this team, in this setting?  Is there a culture fit?

Calling – having been approached (like the disciples were), does the person feel called? 

Character – does the person have the attributes of character which are needed? Is the person who you think might lead the toddlers’ group patient, for example, or does he or she fly off the handle? If so, that won’t work.

Now, outside the church, in the commercial world, there is a tendency to focus on competence and disregard character. So, you have someone who is brilliant at IT but who causes total inter-personal havoc in the team with their lack of EQ or their arrogance or whatever.  And, inside the church, there is the equal and opposite error. To focus on character and disregard competence. Being lovely is a wonderful thing, but if your job is administration and you’re not very organised, and you tend to forget things, and systems aren’t really your thing, your loveliness will not be enough.

Finding and assessing the right people to join your team is the first important step on the journey. It is tempting to stop there. But, however brilliant these people are, they will need to understand your vision and your ethos; they will need to feel your interest and encouragement; they will need to know where they are flying and where they need support. Your next job is to equip and develop them in such a way that they flourish. Because, if your team flourishes, so will your vision. 

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