You wouldn't hire a volunteer preacher, so why are you hiring a volunteer church facility manager?
When was the last time you heard a church board or eldership suggest finding a volunteer to serve in the role of preacher and pastor of the church? I am guessing your answer is never unless for a church of only 10-15 people.
It is almost absurd that any church of any size (say over 100 people) would consider a pastor that was merely a volunteer. Probably with little formal education or experience. They may have a wonderful servant’s heart but have never served in this capacity. Or maybe, they are just out of work and need something to keep them occupied. That sounds like a good reason to put them in the role of pastor, right?
Here is another scenario: Your church needs a pastor, and you plan to only hire one part-time. Do you look within your congregation to find someone that has Bible education or that needs a little extra money to care for their family? Or someone that has been retired for 10 years but can only perform a portion of the role? Or maybe someone who has taught driver’s education since they obviously are qualified to teach the Bible? I mean, how different can it be? Isn’t it just teaching?
Haphazardly Hiring a Church Facility Manager
I think we all can agree the scenarios above are illogical. churches that have made a conscious decision to hire a co-vocational pastor. That is totally different as it is generally a very intentional decision with practical or theological reasons to support it.
No, I am referring to the unintentional, haphazard approach to hiring. Most churches would never dream of hiring a pastor in the ways described above. And yet, the “hiring” or selecting a church facility manager is often accomplished using the approaches previously mentioned. Why is that so?
I am not here to debate the importance of one role over the other. I am not going to try and defend my view of facilities or make a case for the role of facility stewards or the theology of facility stewardship. You can make your own case by reading Numbers 3:14-38.
Hiring the Right Church Facility Manager
What I hope to do is to get us all thinking about how we go about staffing for our facilities and its stewardship. The importance of hiring the right person to steward what is likely the 2nd or 3rd largest budget item for your church. If you were running a for-profit company, would you take stewarding (running, managing, operating, etc.) one of your largest assets seriously?
Here are some traits we would suggest you consider when compiling a job description and interviewing prospective facility managers:
Manager vs. Maintenance
Your church needs both. You need to have maintenance performed (reactive) and you need someone to manage it (proactive). In too many cases, churches fill a facility manager role when what they really are looking for or even hiring a maintenance person. You need both functions, so be careful of the title you give someone.
Embraces the Vision and Mission of YOUR Church
Your facility manager is likely going to interact with your staff, your volunteers, and the congregation. They are going to be working with other leaders to negotiate budgets, ministry activities, facility utilization, and the like. If they don't understand and embrace YOUR particular mission and vision, there will always be conflict. Whether they are a member of your church or not, they need to embrace your vision and be a willing participant in fulfilling it.
Facility Stewardship is Critical
We have talked about facility stewardship for so long many of you may have forgotten what we mean. Let’s review again. God doesn’t entrust facilities to people unless he is committed to making them worthy of that trust. If you believe that everything on Earth belongs to God as I do, then we must accept the fact that our houses of worship, churches, administration buildings, education facilities, and recreation complexes have been entrusted to us. We are to be held responsible by the “owner” of all of these things as to how we stewarded them.
Comfortable with New Technology
Technology is only going to grow in importance in the facility management space. Because of this, the ability to quickly learn and incorporate new technologies is important. For example, motion sensors and integrated software will help you better track room usage and seating assignments. This means whichever candidate you choose should be able to implement and monitor these types of solutions. Further enhancements to facility management software will also enable your team to be more efficient and effective in performing their tasks.
Whoever you hire needs to be eager to take on new challenges, all while being creative in coming up with solutions to a diverse set of problems. There are many hats for any facility manager, particularly in a church setting. If the facility staff is not flexible and can not think outside the box, things will always be a challenge.
Considerate and Empathetic
How churches operate is different in many ways from other organizations. In light of that, there must be an empathy “chip” and high attention to being considerate to the occupants, guests, and staff. This does NOT mean they need to be doormats or not stand up for what is right. However, they need to balance their facility stewardship passion with the emotions and feelings of others.
At the end of the day, whoever you hire MUST be competent to perform the roles and responsibilities of the job. Period. They may have the greatest heart, believe in the vision and mission of your church, and love technology. However, if they are not competent to lead, manage and steward your facility, you need to step back and relook at the role and what you need. Remember, you are asking someone to care for your largest physical asset AND steward the 2nd or 3rd largest budget line item in your annual budget. That is not to be taken lightly.
Conclusion: Be Intentional in Hiring a Church Facility Manager
While I can sometimes have a one-track mind, I believe the above to be highly important when staffing. Would you say the above considerations sound like you could just find a volunteer or part-time person? My guess is no.
If you have questions or concerns about who to hire for your facility manager role, I would recommend talking to industry professionals. Our Church Facility Management Solutions Group is a Facebook community of nearly every type of church personnel. Here you'll find answers to your questions, and encouragement from other church facility managers.