There should be no other group of people on Earth who have better communication skills than the Church. Yet there is a pattern that has been sweeping through America; the local church is failing to properly communicate to candidates who are applying to their open positions. Sometimes, churches are not even responding at all to their applicants. The purpose of this article is to help the Church develop a sincere value of communication. To embrace it, uphold it, and fervently execute on it.
Communication is key
1. The candidate is an image bearer and brother in Christ
Renewing your mind each day to remember that an applicant is a brother in Christ will completely change your attitude and approach to candidate relations. This mindset will help you to put on the lens of Christ and see the true value of all your applicants. How would your spouse, brother, son or daughter feel if they had spent hours creating something exclusively for you… only to be ignored. It would hurt. When a candidate does not get a response it truly communicates that they are not valued by you as an organization. Remember who they are and you will make responding to your applicants a priority.
2. A lack of communication deteriorates your brand
Hurt applicants hurt your brand. You are not only an ambassador of Christ, you are a brand ambassador as well. Every local church should strive to develop a reputation that accurately reflects the character of Christ. It’s imperative to remember that it’s a small world. Candidates talk to other candidates about their experiences. One ill word about your local church from a hurt applicant can lead to hundreds of other potential candidates refraining from applying to your open positions. The opposite holds true as well. If you create an amazing recruiting process, candidates are going to take notice and tell their seminary buddies about their experience.
3. You have a chance to be different
There is a strong reason behind the development of this article. Churchology has spoken with hundreds of pastoral candidates since its inception and a lack of communication from the local church is a common frustration that we hear from them. Trust that when an applicant receives pristine communication from a local church they are going to take notice that you are different. Great communication will set you apart from the rest of the churches that they are speaking with. It will just make you more attractive as a potential employer.
4. Your ministry should not have borders
This is crucial to understand and it can be slightly comparative to the first point. But it seems that it’s a common thought amongst local churches that their ministry is restricted to their community. Many local churches support global missions, but that’s not what needs to be pointed out here. These applicants need to be ministered to. Try with all of your might to remember what it is like to be without a job or in the hunt for your next ministry. It’s no easy task and we are to blame for that. Coming alongside a candidate is just going to reinforce that you are different from the rest of the churches that they are applying to. Remember that you have a great opportunity to minister to these men and women as you both discern who is going to fill the opening.
Best Practices in Candidate Relations
1. Please Say Something
This really cannot be repeated enough. Just hearing a response from the employer goes a long way for the candidate. You must remember that they are constantly wondering what the status is of their application. Many times, candidates are left feeling as if they just submitted their resume to a black hole. Always respond to a candidate as soon as possible no matter what stage they are in.
2. Give Transparent Answers - Refrain from saying “God is leading us in another direction”
Classic “God is leading us in another direction” response is what the candidate is thinking when they hear this. Of course, the local church must value the leading and sovereignty of God. But the reality is that even if God is leading you in another direction you must know some other details about the direction that He’s leading you in. The word direction itself implies that you have received a map from God on where to go with a candidate. When someone uses a GPS, they know exactly where and when to take a turn. A GPS would be completely useless if it said, “turn somewhere over in that general area.” The reality is that we fear hurting a candidate’s feelings so we use the above quote to avoid the truth. Tim Keller offers wisdom on this when he said, “Truth without love is harshness; it may be right but you ignore it because of its bite. Truth and love together transforms.” Candidates long for genuine communication so that they can transform into Christ-likeness.
3. Practice Empathy
If you take one thing from this article it should be this; practice empathy with your candidates. Remember the example of how your loved ones would feel if you ignored a gift from them? Try as hard as you can to remember what it’s like to be in the position of your applicant. Remember that they are probably in a painful season and use that as an opportunity to minister to them.
Valuing communication produces invaluable results when it comes to your pastoral staffing needs. It will create amazing candidate pools, set you apart from other organizations and create a reputation as a great place to work in the Church. Remember, please say something. Ironically enough, this allows your brand to speak for itself.