How many staff do I need at my church?
Think about it. It seems like an easy, no-brainer question doesn’t it? Simply divide the number of congregants by a certain percentage, and presto, you have a good idea of how many staff individuals you need at your church. Right? Even though the one-staffed-pastor-per-such-and-such-number-of-congregants might be a successful approach for some, it might not work well for others. You see, staffing a church depends on a number of factors, including church context, culture, focus, and strategy.
In order to answer this question, then, there are a few starting point matters a church should consider and keep in mind:
What is your church budget, and what percentage of that budget is designated to staff salaries and wages?
Before any financial decision is made, it’s essential that a church reevaluate the budget and the needs of the church community so that it can determine what an effective staff make-up might look like. A church must keep in mind, however, that one church’s budget breakdown might greatly differ from another’s. So, comparing and mirroring what another church does or does not do might not always be the best solution. A church must also be mindful that the budget typically reflects the overall focus and strategy of a church. And these are two factors which change and develop from year to year. As a church, then, examine your goals and the mission of your church in this coming year and even in the years to come.
What is your church culture?
Even though the question of church culture can be daunting and complex, a church should evaluate its make-up to determine a staff number that fits its culture. There is not a rhythmic for-all formula, but with greater size often comes greater need. At the same time, there is a balance a church must maintain between laity and staff ministry. So, first, make sure that there is a sufficient number of staff prepared to do the ministry of the congregation. But don’t forget to examine the role of the laity, ensuring that the congregation does not become so staff-reliant that the ministry of the people is withdrawn.
What is your church mission, and where are you going?
A church should recognize its focus, its emphases. In other words, is there a specific mission, goal, or ministry upon which the church is focused? The direction that a church is headed greatly affects the staff and ministry of the church as a whole. This introspection should ensure staff hiring that is proactive rather than reactive. Reactive staffing is a product of knee-jerk reactions, which do not necessarily meet the long-term needs of the church. While proactive hiring takes more discipline, it does strategically consider the future of the church, its mission, and its ministry. Always remember: long-term goals are just as important as short-term, if not more.
What does God have to say about all of this?
To this day, I often hear my mother’s voice in the back of my mind whenever I make any major decision: “Well, have you prayed about it?!” And although that reminder can be nagging at times and cliché at others, there is no replacement for the guidance of our God. There’s no formula, no advice, no study that replaces what the Source has to say. So, in the process of church reflection and evaluation, never cease to seek God’s voice, blessing, and guidance.
When it comes to pursuing a successful quantity of church staff, a lot of your answer depends on context. So, examine your budget. Reflect on your church culture and its inner dynamics. Evaluate the mission of your church and where your church is headed. Finally, and most importantly, seek wisdom that can only come from on high.