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"The best predictor of future performance of an individual is the person's past performance" according to Dr. Charles Ridley, former professor at Fuller Seminary. Many churches will collect and review many resumes, screen and interview candidates well, but then offer a position without thoroughly checking references.

A Senior Pastor "Walker" was leading a church of 1,200 members in Detroit, Michigan with a large ministerial staff and was interviewing for a children's pastor. The ministry focus was ministering to city youth without church backgrounds, and many of the kids came from broken homes and from un-churched backgrounds.

Many names were collected, resumes gathered and reviewed and interviews conducted culminating in the hiring of Pastor "Bill."

Shortly after arriving, problems began to develop between pastor "Bill" and church members. Bill came from a church sustained by four generations of Christians, and the children's ministry focused on children of committed church members.

Little outreach to the unchurched was done, or expected. Bill related poorly to his new charges, and he didn't want to teach kids that at times were unruly, and objected to working with kids with significant family issues.

In short order, Bill left the church and returned to a similar type church he served in the past. Had Pastor "Walker" talked to past references, the misfit hire could have been avoided.

There is no substitute for the time, diligence and effort required to thoroughly check references. The references check is designed to determine if the person applying for a position has the graces, gifts, skills and fit for the perspective position.

This review is as important to the perspective staff member as the church to insure a good fit. Effective reference checking takes time and effort, and I recommend that the review be done after the final interview, and have developed a serious interest in a candidate, but before a church announcement is made of a candidate, or offers are extended.

"When I begin checking a reference, I explain to the person I am calling that I want to insure the person hired is a good fit for both the church and perspective staff member," according to Dr. Will Spaite, former District Superintendent of a California district in the Church of the Nazarene.

By confirming the issue is a good fit, and by insuring confidently, Dr. Spaite believes the stage is set for a profitable conversation.

According to Dr. Spaite, "I hardly ever talk to someone where the person is working because I may not get the best information. Being human, they give great reference to help the person move along, or a poorer reference if they want to keep the person. I always ask the same questions to everybody I touch base with to keep my feedback consistent."

Bruce Dingman, a search professional of the Robert Dingman Company, believes references should be checked using a 360-degree method, talking to superiors, peers, and subornments if possible. "That way, you get a complete perspective from the person."

He believes most successful people have one or more failures in their background, and that the key is to understand that failure, and what the person learned. Obtaining an objective picture is not easy because Christians don't want to find fault with a brother, they care for the person, while others may want them out of the current originations.

Dr. Dan Copp, District Superintendent of the Arizona Church of the Nazarene believes reference checking is "incredibly valuable." Dr. Copp believes you start with the references furnished and the person's immediate co-workers and then ask for others who have witnessed the person's work, and then call them.

Please browse through our other articles to find part 2 of this article.
This article is used by permission from Steve Marr's Business Proverbs. Steve's passion is to empower ministry and business leaders with God's ancient Wisdom for enhanced performance and excellence. He resides in Tucson, Arizona with his family.

Author Biography

Steve Marr
Web site: Business Proverbs
Steve Marr has learned from 40 years of business experience that God's way works. As an author, speaker and business consultant, Marr helps companies and organizations apply the ancient wisdom of the Bible to avoid the common mistakes and headaches of growing a business.

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