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7 Times You Should NOT Hire More Church Staff

Earlier this year, I 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, that meant one full-time minister for every 100 to 200 in worship attendance.

Unfortunately, it is no longer best to approach adding staff in a formulaic fashion. Most churches do not add staff according to a programmatic approach. In the past, the pattern started with the pastor, followed by either music or education, and then age-graded ministers, such as students or children.

Today, the decisions are much more fluid and contextual. I must have an extended conversation with a church leader before I even begin to suggest additional staff. So, instead of answering the Twitter request directly, I approached it inversely. I thus offer seven occasions when a church should not hire additional staff.

The guidelines

It is not a good to hire additional staff when:

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 in effect pays the staff to do the work of ministry. This 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 needs in both the church and the community.

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 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.