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05. 28. 2023

Leadership| Staff Hiring| Church DNA/Culture

How Many Paid Staff Members Does Your Church Really Need?

| 2 min read

Written by Matt Steen
Dec 21, 2018 2:49:57 PM

How many people should you really have on your church staff?

Well... that depends on a lot of things... like location, cost of living, church size (of course), the debt load of the church, generosity, and even denomination.

This is a question that comes up quite often. Here are some overall guidelines:

Staff vs. Budget
One way to look at the size of your team is the amount of money you are allocating to payroll and staff-related expenses.  Most churches allocate between 45% and 55% of their total operating budget to staff in way, shape or form. This is one way to find if your church is in the 'normal' range. That means if your church has an annual budget of around $500,000, your yearly staffing costs should probably run somewhere between $225,000 and $275,000.

Staff vs. Attendance
Another way to determine an approximate norm for your church staff size is to look at your weekly attendance figures.  It's interesting that, back in the 1960s, churches had about one full-time paid pastor for every 500 people in attendance on the weekend. Today, according to Dr. Thom Rainer, that ratio has dropped to about 1:76. That means if your church has a weekly attendance of around 300, you should probably have between 3-4 paid full-time equivalents on your staff.

Staff vs. Growth
It is possible that when a church is experiencing or gearing up for growth, that both the budget and attendance ratios may get a little out of whack. I've often heard churches say that they are 'staffed for growth.' That usually means that they consider themselves to be slightly overstaffed for their current size or budget.  Staffing for growth can pay big dividends when done short-term. They can also lead to layoffs and dismissals when the anticipated growth doesn't happen (or when the money runs out). I've seen churches run as high as 75% - 80% of their budget during times of planned growth.

Keep in mind that these are only averages. Every church is different. And it's entirely possible that your church might hit the budget average, but fall well above or below the attendance average. That happens quite often, particularly for churches that are either in periods of steady growth or decline.

Almost every church we talk to is running on a tight budget. In fact, few churches feel that they under-spend in the area of staffing. In fact, we find that churches many times scrutinize their staff dollars much more closely than other budget items.

As you look at your current and future staffing needs, use the guides above as a starting point. They will serve you well in knowing that you are being great stewards of what God is providing.

And as you determine it's time to add additional members to your team, please keep Chemistry Staffing in mind. We can help you find the right person to add to your staff team... someone that fits your church's unique DNA, theology, personality, and needs.

Want to have a discussion about your staff team and how we can help? Let's do it!

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