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Hiring family on staff

By Paul Clark

A colleague in a similar position at another church recently sent me a policy that explicitly forbids hiring family members, except in a few very narrow circumstances.  As someone who has been blessed to hire both of my sons in positions at Fairhaven, I obviously have no problem with hiring family.

Both of my sons have worked in graphic design and web design positions, some of that time reporting directly to me. My oldest son has since moved on, but my middle son is our webmaster. Additionally, our children’s ministry lead pastor recently passed the baton to his son. His son graduated from Cedarville University with a degree in children’s ministry and we hired him straight out of college. He’s been the second-in-command for several years, but is now the lead guy – and is doing a great job. The wife of our director of facilities is the director of first impressions. The director of operations is married to the director of special needs ministry. So we have family all over the place and frankly, it has worked out very well.

What makes it work? It requires relational integrity. By that I mean it requires people who have or are willing to grow toward certain relational qualities:

  • people who are willing to always speak the truth in love
  • people able to have difficult conversations
  • people who keep short accounts
  • people open to others’ opinions and observations
  • people who are honest with themselves
  • people who have the big picture in mind
  • people willing to submit to authority

Most of all, it takes people who constantly ask themselves the question, “What’s best for Fairhaven Church?” If we lead with our primary motivation being to do what is best for the ministry of the church and not ourselves, then we’ll have no problem working among family relationships.

Many times family members understand to a greater degree the sense of calling and mission that are required to work in ministry. They understand the hours, the demands, the struggles, and the need for personal commitment and investment. Why would I exclude competent, gifted and connected people just because they’re family?

Paul Clark is pastor of ministry environments/operations at Fairhaven Church, Centerville, OH. He has served in the areas of church administration and operations for 18 years. His passion is to translate great vision into organizational reality, sharing his thoughts and ideas at www.visionmeetsreality.org and @paultclark Twitter account.

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2 Comments for “Hiring family on staff”

  1. When hiring family is good, it’s good. When it turns bad, multiply the intensity times 4. Some of the issues can’t be foreseen. I believe there to be much more potential bad than benefit.

  2. It’s all good until you have to fire someone who will sit at the same Thanksgiving table. Or you cut one spouse loose, and the other quits with them. Then what’s best for Fairhaven bleeds into family life too much.

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