In the previous CT-Blog I shared 10 signs that your congregation might be financially fragile and promised to share several missionally healthy ways to firm up your financial foundation. In this post, we will look at rightsizing your staff. With each strategies, the goal is to keep the congregation focused joining Jesus in ministry and not just financial survival.
If your congregation has been in slow decline for years, the chances are great that you are staffed for the past when your congregation was larger. You might glance in the mirror one month discover that your staff seems like this young man’s clothes.
Lyle Schaller and other congregational consultants suggest the following rule of thumb: one full-time program staff position for each 100 persons in average worship attendance. This means a congregation of about 100 persons in worship would usually have one full-time pastor only. A congregation with 180 in worship might have one full-time pastor and at most another full-time person or perhaps one or two part-time program staff persons. Congregations that have been losing average worship attendance for years may have a constellation of staff from when they were twice their current size.
- What staff do you really need to assist your congregation in fulfilling the ministry to which Christ is now calling them? In other words, think missionally. Affordability is not the first question. The first set of questions should be about the leadership the congregation needs to equip and coordinate members to carry out their own ministry.
- Are there full-time positions that really need to be part-time? Not every staff position needs to be full-time. And, as a friend of mine once put it, “You often get more bang for your buck with part-time staff.” Part-time staff are usually quite passionate about their ministry, work more than the hours than they are paid and often don’t need benefits.
- Are there ways that you can share staff with a nearby congregation? I know of two churches that share a book keeper. Another two share a secretary who works three days for one congregation and two days for the other; calls are forwarded to whichever congregation the secretary is working that day. Another two congregations share a youth director; the youth alternate worshiping and meeting in both congregations.
- Do all your staff need to be paid? Leadership is essential, but not all staff need to be paid. I know of one congregation that has a volunteer business manager who was quite successful in business, retired and wants give back to the church that has blessed him. Sometimes the opportunity to serve and the regular expression of appreciation mean more than money to some persons. Unpaid staff play a significant role in the ministry of many congregations.
- Can congregational members be challenged to take part in ministry that was once done by a staff? When one congregation I served lost a beloved part-time minister of visitation due to declining health, we choose to invite people to adopt a home-bound or nursing home resident. People agreed to take them communion every first Sunday, to visit one other time during the month and to call once a week in between. This became a ministry that was appreciated by everyone involved and replaced part of the responsibilities the retired minister had been paid to do for them.
even if at times irritatingly so, consider forwarding it to
other leaders in your congregation and encouraging them to
sign up at www.congregationalexcellence.com.
Dr. Jeff Stiggins