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In a Church Plant…Hire Generalists not Specialists

In a church plant, no one can be a specialist.

In the early days of Grace Community Church, I did many things I wasn’t necessarily trained or qualified to do. That was even truer in my first church plant, which started smaller, but I suspect it’s true of every church plant. This has been the case for all of our staff. They’ve had to fill roles not assigned to their specific job description.

Specialist concentrate on what they do best.

Generalist, while they may have a specific job title, handle multiple tasks; some better than others.

At Grace, we’ve hired people for specific jobs, but we’ve had to ask everyone to do tasks which weren’t necessarily in their “job description”.

  • Our groups pastor helped launch our second campus.
  • Our family pastor helps with worship planning.
  • Our worship pastor helps with our website.

As the church grows, you may hire more specialists, but honestly, we are living in a day where generalists are more needed than ever. To me, someone’s value to the team increases the more tasks he or she can complete, or they are willing to try.

If you are looking to add to your church staff…consider those who can and are willing to handle multiple roles.

Have you had to handle multiple tasks in your position?

Do you see a change to more generalist or more specialist roles in churches today?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Brian Stankich says:

    Totally. Church planting overseas I had to do it all, figure things out along the way, make do with what I could. I always viewed my generalist tendencies negatively, feeling bad when I wouldn't shine or stand out with a certain gifting or emphasis. Now that I've lived life a bit I am seeing the true benefit of being a generalist, particularly in ministry settings. I just need to leverage my generalist abilities more effectively 🙂

  • Paul Loyless says:

    Hire Doers not Delegaters. We see a lot of team members joining Church Planters who have previous experience at large (heavily staffed) churches where they have had the luxury of volunteers and paid assistants to "do" just about everything. it's a rude awakening when they hit the Church Plant environment and realize the only person to "do" is "ME".

  • I definitely think we are moving to more generalists in churches today. In my current position there were two responsibilities right out the gate: Student ministry and volunteers ministries. I think this is the future. Why would a lead pastor bring in 15 pastors to lead ministries when he could hire 4 and then engage lay-leadership within the body? Less money spent on admin/leadership is more money for advancement of the Kingdom.

    • itsonlybarney says:

      Engaging lay-leadership is one idea to save some cash, however at the same time you should be careful that you don't burn out those lay-leaders. I know at the moment that I am feeling rather burnt out because I've been overburdened with extra responsibilities because noone else volunteered to help.

  • Rich says:

    As a church planter I definitely resonate with this post. I think I understand this dynamic better than the rest of the cp team, which is likely a result of my point-leadership (I'm the visionary church planter). i own this vision more than anyone else on the team. So I'm determined to do whatever it takes (website developer, worship team drummer, bulletin creator, etc.)

    So my challenge is communicating this "All-In" spirit of Everyone is a Generalist. One way I've done that is by not handing out titles to anyone. Still, they have a specified role in which they serve and often translates into Special Ops Volunteer.

    I know what you're going to say…"DELEGATE". Ron, I am bro. My expectation is that 80% well done is done enough…but what about when things fall below that 80%?

  • Chris Walker says:

    I have always found myself in a position that asked me to do multiple jobs. I did this both in ministry and corporate positions. The downside for me is that currently in my field of work, everyone is looking for specialists. I am an expert at few things, but can help in a lot of ways. I can do a lot of good things, but I long to do something great.