Church Staffing: Marry Rachel, End Up With Leah?

Donald Hintze Uses Profiles to Connect the Right Leader to a Church Staff

“You don’t want to think you’re marrying Rachel and end up with Leah,” says Donald Hintze, Executive Director of The Gulf Coast Baptist Association, referring to missteps taken by church search committees when they hire new staff.

Donald Hintze

Donald Hintze

In coaching and leading an alliance of 70 churches and missions groups along the Texas Gulf Coast, Donald and his team have helped successfully staff more than 75% of them.

It’s the Leading From Your Strengths Profile and the accompanying Position Insights tools that have contributed to that success, says Donald.  “We do churches a disservice when we put people in positions that don’t fit. But a good match means longer tenures for staff. And when that happens we don’t have pastor-less churches. Staff stays put and does ministry for the long-term.”

How to Identify Staffing Needs for Churches

Ministry staffs are most balanced when its leaders demonstrate different strengths. To understand the functions needed among church leaders, Donald has leaned on the roles listed in Ephesians 4:11-12: “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people” (NIV) – and he also calls upon research data among the general population. Leaders with an apostolic or prophetic calling, says Donald, tend to be aggressive problem solvers with lion-like personalities, making up about 9%. Leaders whose strengths lay in teaching (16%) tend to be process-driven people who do things in an orderly way. Meanwhile, an overwhelming number of leaders – about 75% — demonstrate strengths in relationships (in ministry, that means pastoring/nurturing) and networking (evangelism or encouragement in churches).

In the past, lead pastors overwhelmingly fell into the pastoral or evangelist category. But now, Donald and his team have discovered that churches increasingly recognize the need for balanced teams. They are recruiting leaders with strengths not yet represented on a team in order to fulfill all the functions outlined in Ephesians.

This need is especially apparent, says Donald, on Texas’ Gulf Coast, with its booming economy and young, educated population. Churches have captured the vision for being strategic in reaching this suburban Houston demographic and are seeking balanced teams to ensure dynamic ministry.

In one instance, Donald coached a lead pastor and his staff members through the profile process to discover that the entire team shared one dominant strength: they were all encouraging, friendly Optimistics. “No wonder the lead pastor had become so frustrated,” said Donald. “He had been adapting his style to be an aggressive problem-solver to reach out to all the families moving into the community, when in reality he and his team were so clearly nurturing and pastoral.”

Another church with the same problem was not in a position to hire additional staff to add balance, but the lead pastor did the next best thing: he identified three lay leaders who had individual strengths in problem solving, managing change, or taking risk and met with them weekly to get their input.

How to Identify Strengths when Coaching Teams and Individuals

Donald has developed a streamlined approach in coaching search committees through the staff process. First, he helps the team develop a profile of the church and its community. He also guides the staff through the Leading From Your Strengths process so the team can discover what strengths are already represented on the staff and which ones are needed in a new staff member.

Then he walks the team through creating a profile of the position by using Position Insights. The process helps teams understand the strengths needed in a candidate and identify which candidates are best suited for the position based on their natural strengths. Candidates complete the profile as part of the hiring process. “This eliminates the Leah,” says Donald. “And points you to the Rachel you want to hire.”

The process, he says, translates into the reverse too. He has been coaching a school teacher who is changing careers to the ministry – a classic Optimistic. “His strengths are preaching, discipling, and building community,” says Donald. “He will fit in well on a staff where he is surrounded by team members who fulfill the other necessary ministry functions, like evangelism and visionary decision-making.” Donald is working with this young man to help him find a good staffing fit.

“The profiles are one of the most effective tools I have ever used,” says Donald. “I encourage any leader to use them to build teams using the strengths of the people God puts in our churches.”

Before joining the staff of Gulf Coast Baptist Association in 2001, Donald Hintze served as pastor of churches in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. He and his wife Debbie have two grown children and 6 grandchildren. They reside in Clute, Texas.

More Staffing Tips from Ministry Insights

LifeWay Consultant Finds Profile’s Impact Is Like a “Divine Revelation” for Church Teams

Teams: Why Guess About Each Other When You Can Know Each Other?

Ministry Consultant Uses Profiles to Build Teams, to Get Unstuck