Hey, everyone! My name is Nick and I’m the host of the Tactical Ministry Podcast. I hope you’ve recovered from the weekend and are ready to embrace the opportunities we have this week to make a difference!

I’m excited to let you know that I’m already lining up some great pastors and leaders to share some of their insights on future episodes of the podcast. I think it’s going to be fantastic!

Today, we’re going to be talking about something that doesn’t receive a lot of attention in the ministry world—How do you break the big church hiring barrier? Now if you’re listening and you don’t currently work in a church, this episode will still give you some solid guidance for getting a promotion.

I grew up in a church of 150 people. We had 3 kids in our youth group (and I was one of them!). Needless to say, this is the definition of a small church. Growing up I loved my home church and I still have a soft spot in my heart for it. These churches do incredible ministry and some really impact their cities. So as I talk today, don’t misread my words as speaking down to smaller churches. I’m not doing that at all. But, for those in ministry leadership, sometimes we want to experience the next level in ministry. We want to play on a bigger field and have the opportunity to make a larger impact. There is nothing wrong with that either.

So today, I’m going to give you some insight into how I went from a church of 150 and a youth group of 3 to a church of 2600 and a youth ministry twice the size of my home church.

I’m primarily going to hit on three different things today for those of you that are note takers. I’ll also have my entire outline in the show notes section and on my website “”

So how do you make the jump? How do you get the promotion? There is a ton of things you need to do but the three things I’m going to focus on today are: 

  1. You have to be able to take critical feedback well…and we’re going to take about how you do that. 
  2. Looks matter. No one wants to hire an adult that looks like a high schooler and acts sloppy. 
  3. You’ve mastered your calendar. 

Now we could talk about other things like developing your speaking/preaching craft, handling budgets, volunteer management, delegation, being 100% all the time, and so forth, but today we’re just going to focus on these three.

So let’s dive right in and break down number one: You have to be able to take critical feedback well.

NO one…and I mean no one wakes up in the morning and says to themselves, “I can’t wait for someone to tell me all the things I’ve done wrong and how much I suck.” Most people, including myself at the beginning, avoid conflict and criticism like the plague. I believe that critical feedback gets a bad wrap and let me tell you why:

Without critical feedback, we won’t grow at all or if we do, it’ll be very little. I used to get so defensive every time someone said something slightly negative. My guard would go up. My insecurity would rear its ugly head and I would try to end the conversation as much as possible. Most times I’d even go home and vent to my wife saying, “Can you believe this person said this?!?” As time went on though, I found that if I was open to the right critical feedback from the right people, then it could transform my leadership ability.

Now let me give you one caution here: Not all feedback is created equal. Some people really want to hurt you or advance their own agenda. But that’s not everyone. So we’ve got to become experts at learning who we can trust and open ourselves up to and who needs to stay in the background.

So what’s the key to taking critical feedback? 

  1. Realize you’re not perfect and other people realize that too.
  2. See their feedback as them investing in your development. When you’ve got the right people giving your feedback, that means they care about it. If they didn’t care about your leadership development, they wouldn’t give you feedback. They’d just continue to let you be mediocre.
  3. Take notes and then make changes. When people see that you’re actually putting their advice into practice, they’ll give you even better advice.

So this week, I want you to think about who needs to be in your inner circle giving you feedback. This needs to be a group of people who won’t just say things to make you feel good about yourself. The point of feedback is to learn your weak spots. If all the feedback you get is amazing, then you’ve got the wrong people helping you.

Now, let’s go onto the second thing we’re going to talk about today: Looks matter. 

I can hear you now because I’ve said the exact same things: Looks don’t matter…the heart matters, the call to ministry or leadership matters, but let me give you a little hiring secret. Larger organizations don’t want to hire someone that looks like a kid or better yet someone that doesn’t take care of themselves. Stop experimenting with your hair color. Spot experimenting with your facial hair and 20 different styles of mustaches. Get a consistent, good look and stay with it. Trim your beard to look framed. Comb your hair. Carry yourself with confidence.

Ask yourself this question: Just because I can wear shorts, does that mean I need to wear shorts? Nope. In the modern church today, the dress code is typically what I like to call “professionally casual.” It involves nice jeans, a button up shirt, belt, and shoes. If you don’t own those things, then go out to the local old navy and get yourself some.

If you wear silly t-shirts, oversized (or undersized) clothing, get your act together. I know if youth ministry, I used to think that I could just wear cargo shorts all the time. It wasn’t until I got out of youth ministry that I realized that I gave off the first impression of laziness and a general sloppiness.

The bottom line on this one: Dress one level up from your current place in the organization chart.

Ok now let’s get to the best tip I can give you.

Master your calendar. 

What do I mean by this? Let me give you an example.

As a youth pastor, I would get invited together with other youth leaders from time to time. I loved hanging out with other leaders from different backgrounds. It was awesome. Do you want to know what sucked? It happened every.single.time. One of the other leaders would share about an event they had coming up. Sometimes I thought, “I could take my group to this.” But then they’d say, it’s in two weeks. Can you bring your group? Inside my mind, I’d scream “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO give me more time!”

I’d always have to tell them no. Sometimes they just thought I was being a jerk and didn’t want to participate with them. But in reality, if they had been a little bit more on their game and had planned further ahead, then it could have happened. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to go, it was because they hadn’t planned out far enough in advance.

So, how far ahead do you need to plan? I’d say 3 months minimum, ideally 5-6 months out. At 3 months out, you need to have all your details secured, volunteers recruited, plans made, and advertising going. At 6 months out, you need to know what days you’re doing events, how many leaders you’ll need, and what you’ll be doing. If you can give a “heads up” or those events to parents, that’s the best.

Planning takes time. Schedule your week out. Include brainstorming sessions with parents or other leaders. Get your sermon topics, Sunday school topics, or whatever you do plan out for 3-6 months at a time. Doing this will not only help you be better planned, it’ll give you the ability to focus on other things than last minute craziness.

So as I close today, if you want to get that promotion or make the jump to a bigger pond, you need to master these three things first.

  1. Get to a place where real/honest feedback is welcomed and processed well.
  2. Dress for the next level up in leadership.
  3. Get control of your planning. Master that schedule.

If you’ve enjoyed the podcast today, let me know! I’d love for you to leave some feedback on my Facebook Page or website. Just search for Tactical Ministry or visit

I’d also consider it an honor if you shared this episode with your friends or that one person you’re thinking that needs to hear this.

Have a great day everyone and remember: You’re only one decision away from better leadership!