We Staff the Church

TGCvocations with Holly Tate
Editors’ note: 

The weekly TGCvocations column asks practitioners about their jobs and how they integrate their faith and work. Interviews are condensed.

Holly Tate is the director of business development at Vanderbloemen Search Group, an executive search firm that helps churches, ministries, and faith-based organizations find their key staff. Their motto is: “We staff the church.” She is a graduate of The King’s College in New York City and now lives with her husband in Houston, Texas, where she attends Ecclesia Church.

What do you do every day?

I lead Vanderbloemen Search Group’s Business Development Team, which includes marketing, client relations, social media, and content development including our resource-packed blog. We’ve cultivated a corporate culture of thought leadership, so everyone from our CEO to our Operations Team contributes to content creation. Our team’s goal is to provide church leaders with content on best practices for staffing so that they can build great teams and see the kingdom expanded in their communities.

As an organization, what’s your biggest obstacle?

It has never been easier for job seekers to look good on paper and harder for hiring managers to discern who is the best fit. Our process helps our clients with their search and hiring process, from our initial consultation to their onboarding of a new team member. We meet potential candidates face to face and interview them about their call to ministry, family, leadership style, and theological alignment. We want to make sure there’s a DNA fit between the candidate and the client, which you cannot tell simply from a résumé or LinkedIn profile.

How long does it usually take to fill a position?

Our average search takes about 90 days. The timeline typically depends on the seniority of the vacant position and the church’s governance. The average timeline for a church that searches on her own for a senior pastor, though, is 18 to 24 months. Our timeline working with a church on a senior pastor search is about four to six months.

Do you work with small churches or just big ones?

We absolutely work with—and love working with—small churches. We recently helped a small church in North Carolina of about 70 members. They found themselves in the middle of a difficult senior pastor search with limited resources and denominational changes. They were asking significant questions about their mission and wrestling with whether God was calling them to close their doors or find someone who could lead them into the next chapter. This search was crucial for their future. They ended up calling a wonderful man, and we were humbled to help them find him.

What are markers of success for you?

As our president William Vanderbloemen says, our work is as serious as an organ transplant; we make sure that our clients and our candidates are DNA matches for the long-term health of local churches. Beyond our corporate mission, though, we want to see the kingdom advance. Although some recent statistics suggest churches are declining, we’re seeing the opposite. Yes, they might look different, but we’re seeing growing churches—not just in numbers, but in faithfulness too.