Sometimes You Must Hire More Staff—But NOT in These Situations

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I recently received a Twitter request to provide guidelines for hiring additional church staff. Not too long ago, you could add staff according to a clear formula, typically one full-time minister for every 100 to 200 in worship attendance.

Unfortunately, it is usually not best to approach adding staff in a formulaic fashion today. Most churches do not add staff according to a programmatic approach. You could, in the past, know that the first staff member was a pastor, followed by either music or education, and then followed by age-graded ministers such as students or children.

Today, the decisions are much more fluid and much more contextual. I must have an extended conversation with a church leader before I can even begin to suggest additional staff. So, instead of answering the Twitter request directly, I will approach it inversely.

I thus offer seven occasions when a church should not hire additional staff.

1. When it takes ministry away from the laity.

There has been a tendency in a number of churches to bring on staff as ministry hired-hands. The laity thus pay the staff to do the work of ministry.

That approach is both unwise and unbiblical. A new staff minister should demonstrate that he or she will actually increase the number of people who will do the work of ministry.

2. When you add staff according to the way you’ve always done it.

Church practices are changing rapidly. Communities are changing. Technology is advancing.

When a church is considering adding new staff, the leadership should see it as an opportunity to re-evaluate what the needs in both the church and the community are.

3. When it’s not a smart financial decision.

There will be times when a church should take a step of financial faith to add a staff person.

But that doesn’t mean that such a decision is done without prayer, study and good stewardship. Make certain you are comfortable that the resources for the new staff will be available.

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Thom Rainer
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.

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