January 20, 2021

3 New Keys to Staffing and Structure for a Hybrid Church – Episode 177 | The Unstuck Church Podcast

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How to Build a Hybrid Church (Part 2)

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The topic of how to structure teams in this hybrid era—where churches are balancing both in-person and digital ministry strategies—continues to be a headline topic for the pastors we work with.

Because churches are launching new digital ministry strategies, they are realizing they need to shift—or more likely add—some staff roles to be effective. 

Last week we kicked off Part 1 of our new series on How to Build a Hybrid Church. This week, we’re digging into how to structure teams as we learn how to create thriving hybrid churches. I’m excited to dive into this conversation with you and help you navigate next steps. Structuring for success is critical for a thriving hybrid church.

Join Amy Anderson and me for a practical conversation around three new keys to staffing and structure to consider as you’re creating a hybrid church:

  • How to right-size your staff while living in the tension of both online and in-person ministry
  • What metrics to consider and measure in this season
  • The budget numbers we typically recommend for spending on staff
  • New goals for your staff team
One of the big gaps Covid exposed for many church teams is the need for more strategic leaders and team-builders vs. ministry “doers.” #unstuckchurch [episode 177] Click to Tweet Where there are no goals, there’s a lack of accountability. #unstuckchurch [episode 177] Click To Tweet When you clearly define the important results you are looking for, then staff can quickly evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies. #unstuckchurch [episode 177] Click To Tweet

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Sean (00:02):

Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast, where each week we’re exploring what it means to be an unstuck church. The greatest resource we have in ministry is our team, but for many churches, the last year has left them unsure of how to structure their staff for the changes in strategy that they’re anticipating. This week, Tony and Amy continue our series on the new realities for churches, with a conversation about staffing for digital and in-person ministry. If you haven’t done it yet, or if you’re a new listener to the podcast, make sure you subscribe to get the show notes in your email. When you do, you’ll get resources to go along with each week’s episode including our leader conversation guide, access to our podcast resource archive, and bonus resources that you will find anywhere else. Just go to theunstuckgroup.com/podcast and subscribe. Now let’s join Tony and Amy for week two of our series.

Amy (00:55):

Well, Tony, last week we started a new podcast series where we’re putting 2020 in the rear view mirror. And instead we’re looking ahead at four key areas that church leaders are asking about as we begin 2021, and last week, we spent some time talking about what a hybrid church is, with both in-person and digital environments, what that looks like. And now this week, we’re going to talk about kind of the staffing and structure health of a church.

Tony (01:20):

Yeah, Amy, this topic of how to structure teams in this hybrid era, it certainly continues to be a headline topic for pastors that we work with. Because churches are launching new digital ministry strategies, they’re increasingly realizing they need to shift, or maybe more likely add some staff roles, to be effective in this ministry space, but there are some other new things related to staff structure that they need to add as well. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today.

Amy (01:49):

Yeah. Well, before we dive in, I just want to remind our listeners that we’re going to be doing a deeper dive on this topic, the one we did last week, and the other two in this series in our next masterclass on February 4th. And we’ll share more about this again at the end of today’s conversation, but you and your team can register for that masterclass at theunstuckgroup.com/masterclass. Tony, we’ve spent some time the past few months, you know on the podcast and in our other masterclasses, talking about what new positions church leaders might need to add to their teams to invest in the new digital ministry strategies. But as you just alluded to, what are some other new things that church leaders need to be considering as they map out their staff strategies for this year?

Tony (02:34):

Yeah. So let’s start with what could be the hardest one. And it’s interesting, you know, Amy, way back before ministry, I came from more of a business background, and right sizing our staffing models in the business world, it was pretty commonplace. But that’s the first focus I want to give today, when we’re talking about churches is about right sizing your team. And I know this is a new thing for church leaders, but it’s certainly, I think, something we’re going to have to focus more on, particularly in this new year. One of the big gaps COVID exposed for many church teams is the need for more strategic leaders and team builders versus ministry doers on our staff team. In fact, we’ve heard from several pastors over the last number of months that they had a lot of staff that they paid to do certain things, namely around preparing ministry environments for physical gatherings, and then COVID hit, and it required the churches to pivot and change directions, only they had hired people to do specific tasks rather than hiring leaders of leaders who could develop new ministry strategies for changing ministry environments, and then build new teams to execute those new strategies. So the bottom line is that we need to add new staff people to the team in order to engage ministry in our new reality. And to do that, many churches may need to subtract some old positions before they can add these new ones. Amy, when we work with churches, one of the things that we get asked often is about how much money in our budget should we be spending on our staff? And typically we recommend a ratio of 45 to 55% of your overall budget for staffing. And that includes both the compensation for staff, all their benefits, training for staff, things along those lines. And actually we’re going to talk about other financial ratios and data in that upcoming masterclass on February 4th. What’s ironic though, is when we look at the data, stuck churches have more paid staff. The number of staff in declining churches is actually 35% higher than in growing churches. It surprised me as well when I was looking at this data, Amy. What we see is that a growing church of 2000 people, as an example, has 28 full-time equivalent paid staff people on their team. And again, we’re talking about all staff positions: pastors, other ministry staff, support staff. A similar-sized declining church has 38 paid staff members. And it kind of makes me wonder what are declining churches doing with those 10 additional staff positions? It’s actually an inverse relationship between the number of staff that a church has and whether the church is experiencing growth and vibrancy. And we’ve seen too many churches that have experienced decline, sometimes over years, but they’ve never right sized their staff team to reflect being a smaller church. And I hate to say this, but many of us are going to be leading churches coming out of this pandemic. And if that’s the case, we should expect to be offsetting some of our financial loss by adjusting our staffing numbers.

Amy (06:09):

You didn’t ask me, but I know why the two similar churches, why the growing one has 28, the declining has 38.

Tony (06:16):

Why is that?

Amy (06:17):

I think because they’re too complex. That’s what I see. We’ve never cut staff, and we’ve never pruned. We just keep doing more things. That was just a little bonus answer not to be asked again. Okay. So right sizing the team is one of the new things church leaders need to be considering as they map out their staffing strategies for this year. What’s another new thing, Tony?

Tony (06:39):

Yeah. Second area is we need to be thinking about new metrics. So we must ensure that we’re measuring movement along the phases of someone’s spiritual engagement journey. And remember, we talked about this last week, we’re talking about those stages from someone who’s not interested in the faith all the way through becoming a disciple maker for Jesus. And just like before the pandemic, measuring attendance, whether that’s online or in person, and giving alone will not inform whether or not your church is healthy. You have to determine key metrics for each of these five phases, five stages of someone’s spiritual journey. And that will indicate whether or not there’s growth happening, not only for the individuals in your church, but for your congregation as a whole. You want to be measuring spiritual growth. You want to be measuring movement in that spiritual journey. And these new metrics will help everyone on your team know what success looks like for your organization. And that’s – yeah, go ahead, Amy.

Amy (07:47):

On this topic, I think we talk about it so much, like I know exactly what you’re talking about when you say new metrics, but could you just give us some examples of new metrics that churches are tracking in one of the phases?

Tony (08:00):

Absolutely. So let’s talk, for an example, about people who are not interested in the faith. One way to measure how much your church is engaging with that group of people is to track this metric. And it may sound obvious, but I’m surprised at how many churches are not tracking this. Just over time monitor how many new people have you added to your database. Now, likely all you have is a name, a phone number, maybe an email address. You don’t know anything else about that person, but it’s an indication of how much engagement your ministry is having with people that are outside your church and outside the faith. And it’s probably the very first step that somebody who is not interested in the faith is moving into that stage of spiritual curiosity. It’s one metric that we can use to where they are. Now, you’re going to measure a lot of other things in this phase, like how many views on YouTube, how long viewers engage when watching an online service. But in addition to viewers, you want to track engagers. Measuring an engagement step, like seeing people actually provide you with that email address or a name indicates you’re helping people take next steps toward Jesus and towards faith. So it’s one example, Amy, of on the very front end of this spiritual journey, where we can start to put numbers to our ministry strategies, to see if they’re actually working. And here’s how this relates to the topic of staff health. When you define the important results you’re looking for, then staff can quickly evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies. They’re going to know what success looks like, and they can adapt their ministry strategies as needed. So if something is producing the results that you want, they’ll keep doing what they’re doing, but if they’re not seeing results, they can pivot and try something else. In this example, we set a goal of having 500 new people added to our database in 2021. The staff that have ownership of that goal now know what success looks like, and they’ll build and test strategies that make that a reality. When staff teams are healthy, it’s in part because their goals, their wins are clearly defined. And if every team member knows their wins and they know how to measure the progress against them, that’s where we start to find success. Unhealthy teams, though, lack clarity around what they’re trying to achieve. And goals are often ambiguous, and they’re difficult to assess. And where there are no goals, there’s a lack of accountability. So that’s how defining new metrics for our new reality impacts what we’re trying to accomplish when it comes to staff health as well.

Amy (10:51):

And Tony, I think what you just described was a theme that I saw throughout 2020. It was kind of paralyzing for church leaders to know what should I be doing right now. They didn’t know what success looked like anymore because the game changed so much. And you’re exactly right. Healthy staff teams know what the win is. And so when we talk about new metrics, we’ve just got to roll up our sleeves and define what are the targets in each of those spiritual engagement journey strategies?

Tony (11:19):

Yeah, I mean, Amy, just to tie the bow on this. One of the churches we were working with recently, they tended to only celebrate one aspect of one piece of their discipleship strategy. And as a result of that, go figure, that’s where the staff team was fully invested. But in every other area of their discipleship strategy, they had never defined metrics. And so stories were never shared about people taking steps on that part of their discipleship path. And as a result that, the staff team didn’t give it any focus. And so, yes, this is one of those areas where I think we have to double down in order to help our teams clearly understand this is the win. And therefore these are the ministry strategies that we need to be focused on.

Amy (12:10):

So are there any other new things, we talked about rightsizing the staff, we talked about new metrics. Are there any other new things that church leaders need to be considering as they map out their staffing strategies for this year?

Tony (12:22):

Yeah, I think a third area might be to focus on new goals, Amy. As I walked through, in my last example, once the new organizational metrics are established, you need to help your team members understand what success looks like for their team and for each person on their team. So before you ask, let me give an example. I knew that question was coming. Specific and practical, that’s what we’re trying to do here, Amy. So let’s say that one of the organizational goals for 2021 is to engage 100 new high-level volunteers in ministry. Once that organizational goal is set, leadership needs to determine how each ministry team will contribute to that goal. So for example, let’s pretend, Amy, that you’re the family ministries pastor at the church that I’m leading. See? I hire well. So because of that, you oversee children’s and student ministries, which is a good thing because that’s not where my gift mix is. I once served, once, in a children’s ministry area and convinced the leader above me that wasn’t a good fit for me. We didn’t lose any kids, though. That’s the good thing. So that’s the example. Amy, you’re over family ministry. My first responsibility was to determine that that high-level metric of engaging a hundred new volunteer leaders was clarified. My next responsibility is to define what success looks like for you and your team. In other words, I need to make it clear to you how much of that goal is yours to own. In this example, I’ll say, I want you to be responsible for maybe 20 of those 100 new volunteer leaders. The next step is for you to break that 20 down and define for your children’s team and your student team how much of that metric are they responsible for? So that’s where you step in as the family ministries pastor to really drive this goal into both areas of your ministry. And again, healthy teams have these goals and wins clearly defined. So Amy, anything else you would add here?

Amy (14:32):

Yeah, I think what you’re really talking about is at the top of that strategic alignment pyramid we talk about a lot. And if you aren’t familiar with it, go back to episodes 145 through 147. But in essence, what you described is that at the directional level, you’ve defined what success looks like for the organization. When you broke it down to 20 for my team, you defined what success looks like for my team, and that’s the action level. Then, as you said, it’s now my job to define what success looks like for each of my team members. And I need to be clear with each of my leaders in children’s and students how many leaders they’re responsible to identify and raise up. But I would also set goals for them around the activities that would best lead to these results. If you’re a 4DX geek, we talk about lead indicators and lag indicators. For example, I would set goals for each of my leaders around how many people they need to be meeting with to invite them into higher level serving roles. And I’m guessing if we want to hit our goal of 20, we probably need to invite close to a hundred people over the course of a year. So I would set a “meet with potential high-level volunteer goals,” monthly goals, probably three potential leaders a month, for my leaders. So lead indicators are just those activities that you want people to do that could influence that lag metric, which is the 20 leaders that we need. So, all right. I went down that wormhole. Sorry.

Tony (15:57):

That’s alright, and so we’re not just making this stuff up, Amy. You’ve acknowledged your husband, Jason, who for many years was the campus pastor at Eagle Brook Church. I mean, these are the types of metrics/wins that were clarified for him, so he knew how to invest his time as well. Isn’t that right?

Amy (16:16):

Yeah. I mean, a great example was he would get a challenge of you need to grow your weekend attendance, back then. Yeah, whether it’s by 10%, 20%. So he got the target, and then it was up to him and his team to now identify what are the strategies to actually make that happen. But without that clear metric, we don’t move into action. If we don’t know what success looks like, we don’t move into the action that we need to do. And we get a little paralyzed. And then we just kind of, like when I used to interview church leaders and like, what does success look like for your job? I would say nine out of 10 times they would smile at me and go. That is a great question. So clarity brings action. Well, Tony, any final thoughts before we wrap up today’s conversation?

Tony (17:01):

Yeah, today we covered three of the new things church leaders will need to lead through in 2021 for a healthier staff team. And as you mentioned earlier, we’ll be going through a deeper dive on staff health in our upcoming masterclass. And again, I just love the title of this, again, because I came up with it, but it’s called, “Your Church Survived 2020: Now what?” And the focus of that day will be around four key questions that church leaders are asking related to what’s next for the church in 2021, specifically around building a hybrid church, restructuring the staff and finding health in our staff team going into the new year, finding financial health, especially as we’re facing giving declines in churches, and then planning for the future, even in times of uncertainty. So if these are topics that you’re asking questions about, I want to invite you and your team to join us as well. And you can register for the masterclass at theunstuckgroup.com/masterclass.

Sean (18:06):

Well, thanks for joining us on this week’s podcast. As Tony mentioned, don’t forget to sign up now to be a part of our upcoming masterclass focused on the new realities of ministry in 2021. You can learn more and sign up by going to theunstuckgroup.com/masterclass. If you like what you’re hearing on the podcast and it’s been helpful for you, we’d love your help in getting the content out farther. You can do that by subscribing on your favorite podcasting platform, giving us a review and telling somebody else about the podcast. Next week, we’re back with another brand new episode as part of this series. Until then, have a great week.

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