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Staff Search

The Great Resignation - Why People are Leaving

There is a growing percentage of church staff that are resigning and will continue to resign over the next year as this national trend affects the Church.


Last week, we started our discussion on what is being called “The Great Resignation”. You’ll be hearing this phrase a lot in the coming months when it comes to business and the job market in the United States. But we think you’ll also be hearing about the growing percentage of church staff that are resigning and will continue to resign over the next year as this national trend affects the Church.


Defining “The Great Resignation”

The term “Great Resignation” was coined by Anthony Klotz. He is an Associate Professor at the Mays Business School at Texas A&M. Klotz’s primary area of expertise is studying why people resign or quit their jobs.  His research started to see an uptick in resignation rates way back in 2018 as the economy strengthened. A healthy economy meant more opportunities for better positions, increased pay, and career advancement.


But then… COVID.


When the pandemic and subsequent shutdown of many businesses and sectors of the economy took effect, resignations dropped significantly.  Throughout the remainder of 2020 and the start of 2021, many people wanted to quit their jobs, but few were willing to take that risk in the middle of a pandemic.


According to Klotz, 


It's an understatement to say that the past 18 months have changed how

some people think about life, work, and what they want out of both.”


According to a career study by LinkedIn, 74% of those surveyed say that they have been rethinking their current work situation.  Over 50% of those surveyed said that they incurred an increased amount of stress and burnout.  For others, the pandemic increased dissatisfaction and frustration with their employer as companies changed protocols and procedures that fundamentally changed the work culture and atmosphere.


And workers were not only considering their work schedule during the pandemic.  They started asking more critical questions about life, the importance of family, leisure time, flexibility, and how their jobs and careers fit into the bigger picture of their lives.  


Why is This Discussion Important in the Church?

That’s a great question.  I’m glad you asked. :)


In some ways, this changes the whole game when it comes to keeping your current staff and hiring new staff in the future.


Here’s today’s altered reality:


When you hire your next church staff person, you are no longer competing just against First Baptist Church across town or the megachurch in the next state. You are now competing with every other church that’s hiring as well as your local real estate office, new government job openings, and companies like Amazon and FedEx (that are offering great pay, flexibility, full benefits, retirement plans, and educational reimbursement.)


And the same goes for your relationship with your current staff.  Many of them (some for the first time ever) may be a part of the 74% that are considering a job change in the next year. And what we’re seeing is that they may or may not decide to stay in ministry. COVID has reset the ministry playing field, and many are considering whether or not ‘ministry life’ is best for them and their family.



Let me be direct here.  In our work here at Chemistry Staffing, we are seeing more people than we’ve ever seen that are making the choice to get out of ministry. We’ll tackle the reasons why (and hopefully some solutions) next week.


Forced Minimalism

In short, the pandemic changed how many people think about their jobs and careers and their overall work/life balance.


Klotz continues:


“We have a fundamental need for autonomy. When you work in a new arrangement for 12 or 18 months, you completely adjust, and during the pandemic, people adjusted to having far more freedom in how they arranged their lives and work. There's research coming out that says people are spending longer days working from home, but they’re taking breaks during those days—getting errands done, going to coffee. Productivity is either flat or up in almost everything that I've seen when it comes to working from home. And once you give people this flexibility and autonomy and we adjust to it, we're not going to give it back easily.”


During the pandemic, nearly all of us took a look at our life priorities and realized that “we were good without a lot of things we thought couldn’t live without.” In his work, Klotz calls this “forced minimalism.” Here is how he puts it:


“All these things came together into pandemic epiphanies where people decided they wanted to pivot—they didn’t miss their old life and wanted to do something different. And in many cases, jobs are intertwined with that.”


It has been the perfect storm.  


And the result has seen an incredible uptick in resignations during 2021 across nearly all employment categories.  


The church is no exception. 


What we’re seeing happening in other job sectors like healthcare, education, retail, and hospitality are happening, almost identically in the church.  


The Current Employment Climate

In August 2020, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs.  That’s a new record.  (And it’s about 2.9% of the country’s workforce.)  In July, about 2.7% of the workforce quit their jobs.  


At the same time, there are about 10.4 million job openings.


Workers can be picky.  And employers are scrambling to find good, qualified employees.


Gus Faucher, the Chief Economist at PNC Bank, described it this way: “If you’re unhappy with your job or want a raise, in the current environment it’s pretty easy to find a new one… we’re seeing people vote with their feet.”  


And while the actual resignation numbers are increasing, so are the number of people considering resigning.  According to Bankrate’s August Jobseeker Survey, 55% of people in the workforce say they plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months.  And a study by Microsoft found that 41% were considering either quitting the job or, even more serious, changing their profession altogether.


We’re finding this to be true in the church employment world as well.  With many people deciding it is time to make a move and many churches hiring to replace people who have decided to leave, it is a great time for candidates to be picky in their next ministry assignment. At the same time, many are considering moves not just to another church or ministry, but a career move out of ministry. The “Great Resignation” has created many transitions inside the church and will for many months to come.


Next week, we’re going to look at the main reasons people are choosing to leave their current jobs.


(Note: this is important for you to know because these are the same reasons that your church staff will be considering in whether to stay a part of your team for this next season.)


If you would, please take one minute (that is literally how long it will take) and answer these three yes/no questions about how “The Great Resignation” is affecting you and your church.


Here’s the link.


More next week when we dive into the real reasons we’re seeing for church staff transition during this time.




PS - We’d love to share with your church a little of what we’re seeing BEFORE you start to hire your next staff person. Find a time to talk. 





Todd Rhoades

Todd Rhoades

Todd has invested over 30 years in serving churches, having served as a worship pastor for over 15 years, a church elder for more than a decade, and in various ministry leadership roles in both the business and non-profit sectors. As the original founder and developer of ChurchStaffing.com, Todd fundamentally changed the way thousands of churches search for pastors and staff on the internet. Todd is a graduate of Cedarville University, and lives in Bryan, OH with his wife, Dawn.

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