May 28, 2024

Brand New Data on Church Staffing Trends (Q2 2024 Unstuck Church Report)


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    Quarterly Unstuck Church Report

Download the Q2 2024 Unstuck Church Report

Every quarter, The Unstuck Group compiles all the data we’ve collected to monitor trends in churches in the United States. For this quarter’s report, we focused our survey on questions related to staffing, structure and team. For the report, we only included churches that submitted data between April 8 and May 6, 2024 to provide a very current snapshot of ministries of all shapes and sizes.

We received survey responses from 402 churches, ranging in size from under 100 to more than 8,000 in physical attendance for worship gatherings. The average in-person attendance of churches that participated was 899 people.

Let’s talk about current staffing challenges…

We heard you loud and clear. Staffing for healthy ministry is not easy right now.

As part of this quarter’s staffing survey, we provided an opportunity for pastors and church leaders to share the specific challenges they were facing related to staffing and structure. We didn’t provide any prompts. We just provided an open opportunity for you to share or, maybe more accurately, to vent. And you didn’t hold back.

If I had to summarize the themes we heard in your responses, they would essentially fall into these key categories:

1. Financial Constraints: Many leaders indicated their churches are dealing with significant financial challenges exacerbated by the high cost of housing in their areas.

Budget restrictions and deficits further strain their ability to afford staff salaries, especially when compared to similar marketplace positions outside the church. With limited funds available, hiring necessary staff becomes a difficult task, made worse by the financial instability brought about by the impact of the pandemic and decreased attendance.

Thus, church leaders find themselves in a delicate balancing act, trying to meet new staffing needs and take care of their existing team while staying within the confines of their available funds.

2. Finding Qualified Staff: Hiring qualified personnel proves to be an uphill battle for churches. They are facing difficulty in locating capable and skilled candidates, particularly for roles targeting next generation ministries like kids and students.

Moreover, churches must compete with the open market for talented individuals, further shrinking the pool of available candidates. This scarcity is compounded by a limited number of experienced, qualified and trained applicants for open ministry positions, making the recruitment process even more challenging.

3. Structure and Organizational Challenges: Churches are encountering various structural and organizational hurdles that create barriers to ministry impact. Unclear ministry lanes or lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities muddy the waters for some teams, while complex church governance structures add layers of complication.

Transitioning to new ministry models or multisite structures presents additional challenges for churches, necessitating clarity around roles, responsibilities and reporting structures. Overstaffing in some areas and understaffing in others highlight the challenges that leaders are facing.

4. Staffing for Growth and Change: Even churches experiencing growth are struggling with staffing as they attempt to plan for expansion and consider future needs. They are also finding it difficult to align their staffing structure with their ministry strategy and vision focus. Transitioning leadership roles, including succession planning for retiring staff members, presents challenges, too.

However, developing a leadership pipeline for internal candidates to meet future needs is essential to support ministry growth and change.

5. Cultural and Communication Issues: Many leaders shared that they are dealing with cultural and communication issues that impact staff unity and effectiveness. Maintaining a healthy culture throughout the staff is crucial, as is fostering a collaborative environment that avoids silos. It’s no surprise that several leaders mentioned challenges with communication and ensuring alignment across all levels of the organization.

Unfortunately, several responses indicated that teams are dealing with toxic or narcissistic leaders and negative staff dynamics, which negatively impact the church’s mission.

Needless to say, shepherding and leading teams is not easy, even within the context of ministry. Any time people are involved, it’s going to be a little messy. What gets me excited about that list, though, is that these are all solvable problems. I have the great opportunity of helping churches navigate all of these issues on an almost daily basis. There’s a lot more that we will cover in this quarter’s report. I hope you’ll check it out!

Get Your FREE Copy of The Q2 2024 Unstuck Church Report

ucr q22024 staffing cover
ucr q22024 staffing cover

This special edition of the Unstuck Church Report features key takeaways from the most recent survey results in the areas of:

  • Staffing & Ministry Trends
  • Staffing Data by Ministry Type
  • Staffing by Generation
  • Leveraging Contractors
  • Staffing Practices
  • Special insights on staffing, funding and more from report sponsor Horizons Stewardship

Thanks to a growing number of church leaders responding to the survey, we were able to include a summary of the data by church size again in this quarter’s report.

Subscribe today and get The Unstuck Church Report for free each quarter:

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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