Recently, in an elders meeting, it dawned on me that we have a church with nearly 1000 in weekly attendance, and no one who works on our staff has served in a full-time ministry position prior to coming to work at our church. Let me say that again, no one on our staff has served in a full-time ministry position prior to working at our church!

Furthermore, in the past four years we have gone from a ministry team of three to 14. And they are the best, most productive, and hardest working team I’ve ever been a part of.

So how do you creatively and effectively build a ministry team for your church?

Hire People You Know

Trust is key when it comes to staff. If you can hire someone that you have already built trust with and who already knows you and your vision for ministry, then they will hit the ground running. Of our 14 staff members, I had a previous relationship with 11 of them!

Look Within Your Church

Clearly, when you hire from within your church you are hiring people that you already know. But more than that, you are hiring people who love the church and have been serving faithfully. They know your values and vision. They also know your people. Again, they will hit the ground running. Of our 14 staff members, eight of them came from within our church! What a great sign of church health when people inside your church aspire to work there!

Don’t Be Afraid to Hire Young People

I love to platform the young eagles in our church. They are usually hungry to learn and grow, and anxious to make a big difference in the Kingdom. The benefit of hiring young people is that they are teachable, and I will let you in on a little secret—they are cheap. Of our 14 staff members, five of them are under 25!

Don’t Limit Your Search to Seminary Graduates

We want to hire faithful disciples that have a solid grasp on the Bible. However, we have yet to make seminary education a requirement for employment.

Timothy Keller writes in his classic piece, Leadership and Church Size Dynamics, regarding hiring staff in a larger church environment: “Studies show that churches of fewer than 800 members are staffed primarily with seminary-trained ministers, but the larger a church gets, the fewer trained ministers are on staff.” Of our 14 staff members, only two have any formal seminary training.

Hire Part-Time People

Hiring part-timers is a great idea for several reasons. Part-time employment gives you a chance to try them out before hiring them full-time. They are easier to get rid of if they don’t work out.

Also, part-time employees are still in circulation in the “real world.” They will be more likely to bring new people with them to church. Of our 14 staff members, four of them are part-time employees.

Think About Utilizing Quasi-Staff

This is a trick I learned as a church planter. Having no personnel budget should not keep you from having a sizable staff. There are people who will be attracted to the vision and mission of the church and are willing to work for free. Give them a job and give them a title. Treat them like paid staff. Require them to come to a once-a-week staff meeting. Make them a business card. List them on the church website. Give them an official church email account.

In some cases these individuals will out-work some of your paid staff, and then they will become prospects for that next open paid position! Of our 14 staff members, three of them are quasi-staff.

Trust me when I say, there are many ways to creatively and effectively grow a ministry team without breaking the budget.

This post was originally published on Jackie Allen’s blog.

Jackie Allen

Jackie Allen

Jackie Allen is a former church planter and the pastor of Palm Vista Baptist Church, a multi-campus church in Arizona. He previously served as a Church Planting Strategist for the North American Mission Board.