We’re almost a year into this dumpster-fire of a year. (I say that only half-joking).
Just as no one anticipated the challenges that the last 12 months have brought to our churches, no one really knows what the remaining months of 2021 may bring.
(And if they tell you they do know what’s ahead, they’re either lying or lack a great degree of self-awareness.)
So I won’t even try to tell you where things are going and what this year will be like for you at your church. But I do want to share with you some church staffing trends we’re seeing from working with hundreds of churches and candidates. These observations are from both the candidate and the church side of things. Hopefully, they will help you navigate during another few months of ‘unprecedented times’.
Many church staff will transition during 2021, and the part of the lure is moving back closer to family.
We’re hearing from many candidates that are looking for new ministry opportunities that one of the main reasons they are doing so is to be able to move back closer to family. Being separated (and not able to travel to see family) has made many staff members, especially those with young children, wanting to be back closer to parents and grandparents. More and more candidates are restricting their searches to within a day’s drive of family.
If you have staff members that are isolated geographically from their families, you’ll need to understand that this year was very difficult for them in ways that you may have not experienced. You would be wise to find ways to support and encourage them as they have most likely felt an extra level of disconnection from their extended family during the past year.
The loyalty that some of your staff had to your church in 2020 is quickly fading.
2021 will be a year of great transition of staff in the church. Many staff members that contemplated a ministry change last year put it off until this year. We’ve heard from many candidates that they were feeling God’s leading to move last year but felt that the timing wasn’t right… that they couldn’t leave their current church at a time of such crisis and need. In addition, many could not, in good conscience, move their family during a pandemic. So they stayed put.
January was a trigger point for this group of staff members. Many have started their search anew this year, not because they dislike your church, but because they would have been in this process last year if it wasn’t for COVID. In short, these individuals in 2020 were saying “I can’t move and leave my church right now.” In 2021, they are saying “Now may be the time to leave… my church will be fine.”
Many Senior Pastors, in particular, are retiring early, open to moving to a different church, or leaving ministry altogether.
We’re hearing recurring stories from many of the senior pastors that we talk to, primarily those in their fifties and sixties. Here are the three things we’re hearing most often:
- Everything has changed and I’m not sure I have the skill set to take my church where it needs to go for this next chapter of ministry.
- Everything has changed and I’m not sure I have the energy to take my church where it needs to go for this next chapter of ministry.
- This is not what I signed up for. For the first time, I’m really contemplating my call and future in ministry.
Not every pastor is feeling this way, but the increase in conversations that we’re having like this with senior pastors in particular is definitely noticeable.
No one is angry. Few are bitter. Most are just honestly trying to figure out where God would have them in the next year.
And more than a few pastors that had a succession plan for 5-7 years out are moving up the timetable to 1-2 years (or THIS SUMMER).
So, if you’re a senior pastor and you’re having these thoughts… you’re not alone.
Next week, I want to share three more changes that we’re seeing in the church staffing area.
But in the meantime, I want to let you know that here at Chemistry Staffing, you have an ally. We love the local Church. And we’re always open to having a conversation about how these trends will ultimately affect your church when you need to hire or transition a staff member.
Honestly, there are still flames in the dumpster, and the embers will not go out entirely anytime soon.
So when you see any of these trends happening in your church or personally, don’t panic. Our team stands ready to assist your church however we can, even if it’s just a conversation so you can vent or pick our brains. You can find out more about how we serve churches like yours here.
It would be our honor to serve your church however we can when the time is right.
Have a great week in ministry,