5 Christian Leadership & Staffing Trends to Know As You Plan for 2021


Right now, day-to-day operations look different in every organization as we continue to navigate the abrupt changes that COVID-19 brought to how we communicate, care for our ministries, and work. Our Executive Search Consultants are on the front lines of witnessing these changes as they travel across the country visiting clients from churches to Christian schools, universities, and organizations. While every church and organization is facing their own unique challenges, there are also widespread trends we’re seeing across the board. These are the five trends we’re seeing as we work with churches and Christian organizations of all shapes and sizes.

1. A significant number of senior leaders are staying where they are—at least for the short term.

Due to the continued uncertainty in the world right now, people don’t want to leave the positions they have. While not everyone is choosing to stay at their organization, most are. Many leaders are choosing to stay, even if they presented with the opportunity to move to a bigger ministry.

Furthermore, the pandemic brings more than just economic uncertainty. No one knows exactly what the future of ministry will look like. Churches and pastors are having to guess what is coming next. Will online church reduce weekly numbers at church buildings? Will new safety and health precautions play a role in set up and take down? What new hires do I need to make in the new way we’re doing ministry? This guessing game is making leaders want to stay where they’re at rather than face the unknowns in a new organization.

2. Senior Pastors are not leaving because they don’t want to be perceived as abandoning their church in the middle of a crisis or a long season of weariness.

Leaders aren’t just staying in their roles for job security. They’re also feeling the responsibility to guide their teams into the next season, whatever it may look like, rather than “jumping ship” during a time when their staff and congregations are struggling. Leaders do not want to leave their organization during a season full of uncertainty. Many are choosing to stay in their positions until they can know that everything will be okay once they leave. 

In such confusing times, it’s critical to pray for what you should do as a leader rather than letting the opinions and decisions of others direct  your steps. God may using this season to provide new opportunities to some, while guiding other leaders to stay put and help weather this storm.

3. There is a sense of increased commitment to the church where they are serving—at least until we are through this season.

We hear this a lot from our clients that we’re helping with succession planning, and this is especially true for senior pastors who have long-tenures or who are founding pastors. It’s always hard for a long-term pastor to leave the church that “grew up” under their leadership, the church where their family was raised, and where they forged life-long relationships. It’s about legacy—These pastors want to finish well, and they want to leave a legacy. It just doesn’t feel right to pass the baton off to the next leader in a time of uncertainty—at least not yet.

4. Those NOT serving in senior leadership levels are rethinking their own ministry effectiveness and job satisfaction in light of the pandemic.

Many individuals who currently do not hold leadership positions are ready to make transitions. Unfortunately, some have been furloughed or laid off, and are looking for full-time employment. Others feel they have outgrown their current role and are looking for new opportunities that might better fit their leadership gifts and preferences. Luckily, churches that continue to press into this season and are actually doing quite well. Many churches are looking to increase the size of their team and hire qualified staff for newly created roles such as tech specialists and online pastors. 

If you’re currently thinking about hiring for new roles, we’d love to work with you to find the right person for your organization and culture.

5. Senior leaders and their teams are working hard to keep top performers.

Uncertain and difficult times have a way of bringing out key qualities and leadership potential that wouldn’t otherwise have been noticed. Leaders are recognizing that some of their staff members have stepped up their leadership game during these crazy times. Staff members that are demonstrating adaptably, creativity, strategic proficiency, and team building are now being closely observed. Some are being offered opportunities to step up into a more responsible role or are being promoted within the organization.

The many changes we’re experiencing in this season are also bringing a new wave of job and career development opportunities, technological advancements, and ministry opportunities. Although hiring looks different right now, it’s still a critical part of your organizational success. If you have questions or are looking to hire right now, connect with us to learn how we can serve you.


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