May 31, 2023

New Church Staffing Trends: Q2 2023 Unstuck Church Report – Episode 298 | The Unstuck Church Podcast

church staffing trends q2 2023

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    Quarterly Unstuck Church Report

Benchmarks & Data Insights from the Q2 2023 Unstuck Church Report

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Every quarter, my team at The Unstuck Group compiles updated data to monitor trends in churches across North America. For this quarter’s report, we are focusing on staffing trends in churches of various sizes.

These trends reflect data collected from 300+ churches during the four weeks between April 10 and May 5, 2023. We received survey responses from 337 churches that ranged in size from less than 100 to more than 10,000 in physical attendance for worship gatherings. The average in-person attendance of churches that participated was 820 people. This provides a very current snapshot of ministries of all shapes and sizes.


For whatever reason, churches seem more reticent to make staffing changes than other organizations I’ve served in the past. Similarly, employee turnover happens at churches but not nearly as frequently as in businesses. 

Helping churches with staff restructuring has been part of the Unstuck Process from our beginning nearly 15 years ago. That’s why, this quarter, I wanted to dig into the trends and benchmarks around church staffing. In this episode, Amy and I will unpack some of my key findings from the Q2 2023 report, including:

  • Church staffing trends by demographic
  • Benchmarks for staffing by ministry type
  • Staffing trends by church size
  • Insights from Christian Financial Resources
Staffing levels compared to attendance seem to be normalizing. The average church employs one full-time equivalent (FTE) staff person for every 59 attendees.  [episode 298] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet Of the churches that were surveyed, the staff team was split 52% women and 48% men. That means men are slightly under-represented on church staff teams when compared to U.S. averages. [episode 298] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet The average age of Senior Pastors across all churches is 51. Squarely in the middle of GenX, these Lead Pastors of larger churches tend to be slightly younger than pastors leading smaller churches. [episode 298] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet Less than half of churches have a defined staff and/or leadership development strategy for staff. [episode 298] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet More than one in four churches is actively planning for pastoral succession. That suggests there will likely be more opportunities for GenX and Millennials leaders in the coming months to step into pastoral leadership. [episode 298] #unstuckchurch Click To Tweet

This report includes additional staffing insights from Christian Financial Resources, such as:

“To keep your church on mission and drive volunteer engagement, consider using independent contractors for non-core competencies like human resources or accounting. Contractors’ time can typically be adjusted up or down each month based on your ministry’s needs, helping keep your staffing costs low.”

Subscribe to the Quarterly Unstuck Church Report:

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This Episode is Sponsored by Christian Financial Resources:

Since 1980, Christian Financial Resources (CFR) has financed more than 950 ministry projects for independent churches in the United States. As your church grows, CFR is equipped to support your vision and your ministry with financial services tailored to meet the needs of independent churches—including capital campaigns, stewardship services, and loans for construction, building purchase, or real estate acquisition.

As your ministry continues to grow, consider how CFR can help your church cultivate a generosity mentality and raise more capital for your next project.

Share Your Thoughts and Questions on Social Media

We use #unstuckchurch on Twitter, and we start a real-time conversation each Wednesday morning when the episode drops. You can follow me @tonymorganlive and The Unstuck Group @unstuckgroup. If Facebook is where you spend your time, I’m there, too.

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Sean (00:02):

Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast, where each week we are exploring what it means to be an unstuck church. Each quarter, The Unstuck Group releases fresh data, along with some key learnings in The Unstuck Church Report. In fact, you can subscribe to get the quarterly report for free at On today’s podcast, Tony and Amy share what we’re learning in the date of this quarter, specifically around church staffing and finances. If you’re new to The Unstuck Church Podcast, stop before you listen and go to to subscribe to get the episode show notes in your email. When you do, you’ll get resources to go along with each week’s episode, access to resources from all of our past episodes, along with our Leader Conversation Guide. Again, that’s to subscribe.

Tony (00:54):

Is your church contemplating the idea of constructing or expanding its facility? Engaging in a capital campaign facilitated by Christian Financial Resources can greatly assist your ministry as you embark on a transformative journey of stewardship. CFR stands ready to help accelerate your church’s vision and ministry by offering tailored financial services, specifically catered to independent churches. By partnering with CFR on your capital campaign, your church will benefit from personalized coaching and a guided road map. If you want to grow generosity in your church and raise funds for your next capital project, reach out today by visiting

Sean (01:40):

Now, let’s get into this week’s conversation with Tony and Amy.

Amy (01:44):

All right, Tony, it’s hot off the presses. Today, we’re talking about the recent release of The Unstuck Church Report, which captures current trends we’re seeing in churches, and we’ll dive into that report in a moment. But, Tony, tell me where your travels have led you lately.

Tony (01:58):

Well, I’ve, it seems like I’ve been up in the Midwest a lot lately, including I got to visit with Christ Church in Oakbrook in the Chicagoland area.

Amy (02:06):

Oh, yeah.

Tony (02:07):

And hang out with a number of megachurch pastors in Chicago recently, which was fun. But, Amy, I wanna share a story. This is from across the pond. There’s a ministry that we’ve been serving just north of London in Milton Keynes, and the church, like churches everywhere during the pandemic, certainly was impacted. And especially in, in the U.K., the restrictions around Covid and things were very challenging for the ministry. But my goodness, I just was catching up with one of the pastors there at Milton Keynes Christian Centre, and they are, they’re growing again. The church is doing so well. They’re seeing attendance numbers as high as they’ve ever seen, and they’re starting to look at multisite options. And so I just, when I hear stories of like that with churches that we’ve served through the years, and especially on this side of the pandemic, experiencing that kind of health that just, it just, I, it lights me up. I just love hearing those stories.

Amy (03:11):

That is so fun. And multisite in somewhere like London is not very common. So they must, God’s got his hand on their church.

Tony (03:20):

That’s right.

Amy (03:21):

All right, well, let’s get back to the report, Tony. This quarter’s report is a little unique. Will you tell us about that?

Tony (03:28):

So, every quarter, we compile data that we’ve collected to monitor trends in churches in the U.S. and around the world. But this quarter’s report, we’re focusing specifically on current staffing trends in churches. And this is staffing trends in churches of various sizes. And related to that, I think we have some fascinating findings to share over these next several minutes, but just to give you kind of the backstory here. First of all, I think you’re kind of interested in this information around benchmarks and trends in churches because now nearly 12,000 people are subscribed to our Unstuck Church reports that come out each quarter. And the interest too is also reflected in the number of churches taking the surveys associated with this report because this past quarter we had 337 churches participate. And this included churches under a hundred in attendance and churches well over 10,000 in attendance. Specifically, though, we collected the data through surveys that we did kind of from early April to early May so about three or four weeks there. And then, the average in-person attendance of all the churches that participated was 820 people. And speaking of attendance, I know we’re talking about staff, staffing primarily, Amy.

Amy (04:54):


Tony (04:54):

But we’ve kind of wanted to get a benchmark of what are the, what are the churches that we’re talking with about staffing, kind of get a sense of who they are. And so we did ask about attendance. And what’s encouraging here is that, on average, of those 337 churches that participated, the average increase in year-over-year attendance was 23%. That was the average.

Amy (05:20):

Mm-hmm. Wow.

Tony (05:20):

And so you can imagine, there were a number of churches that were well beyond that, looking at year-over-year attendance growth. Now, just put this into context. Of course, we’re doing surveys with churches here in the spring of 2023 and asking them, “Tell us the average over the last 12 months,” which is 22 and 2023, “and compare that to the 12 months before that,” which actually takes us back into 2021. Which that’s of course when we were still dealing with Covid, still dealing with some of the ramifications of the pandemic. So, I mean, attendance numbers now are probably more than normal attendance we should expect compared to COVID attendance. But still, I think it’s a, it’s an encouraging sign that we’re seeing that level of growth in attendance for churches. And it seems to be across all the, the spectrums and sizes.

Amy (06:19):

That’s great. And as you mentioned, this quarter’s report focuses on staffing trends, and I was struck by your opening thoughts on staffing changes in churches. Can you unpack that for us?

Tony (06:29):

Yeah, Amy, I mentioned this in the report, and it just seems that churches are more reticent to staffing changes than other organizations that I’ve served in the past. And the reality is the data seems to confirm this as well. In fact, McKinsey and Company, and they’re a big consulting firm that serves businesses around the world, they previously found that 70% of companies have experienced an organizational redesign or a staffing restructure in the last two years. And related to that finding, Scott Keller, who’s currently one of their senior partners at McKinsey shared this way, shared it this way, just to give it some perspective: companies apparently revamp their organizations more often than they overhaul their websites, which is, on average, every three years, or upgrade their computer systems, which is every three to five years. So he’s, he’s just suggesting businesses are actually changing their staffing structures at least every two years.

Amy (07:33):


Tony (07:35):

Now, I’m not suggesting that that’s necessarily a good thing that businesses make structure changes that frequently, but what it does highlight is the fact that restructuring is normal in the business world. And it seems that it’s less common in churches, but it does happen in churches. As an example, our data indicated that just over half of churches have engaged in some sort of staffing structure change involving multiple positions in the last two years. So as we talk about staffing trends in this quarter’s Unstuck Church Report, I just wanted you to know that you have some permission to make changes. So as we talk about some of the things that other churches are doing that may require you to make some changes, you have permission to make those changes.

Amy (08:23):


Tony (08:24):

Businesses make staffing and structure changes all the time. And actually, the majority of churches have also embraced these types of changes, especially in recent years.

Amy (08:34):

Related to structure changes, I also hear from churches that they’re concerned about employee turnover. They’re concerned that the turnover is too high, and they may be doing something wrong when it comes to retaining staff. What are your thoughts on that, Tony?

Tony (08:48):

Amy, there’s, there’s no doubt about it. Employee turnover happens at churches but not nearly as frequently as it does in businesses. The data from our recent survey indicates the average staff turnover rate at churches is only 12% within the last 12 months. And I say only 12% that may sound like a big number to you. I, I guess that would be one of, out of what every seven or so employees is leaving employment at the church in the last 12 months. I mean, that can sound like a lot. But just to give comparison for businesses, their turnover rate is about 50% higher. It’s closer to 18% each year. So many churches are concerned about voluntary staff departures; when in most cases, the turnover rate is still well below what businesses in their same communities are experiencing. We just need to remember that change happens in people’s lives and that will certainly also mean change is going to happen on your staff teams, as well.

Amy (09:50):

Well, with that introduction, let’s dive into some of the findings from this quarter’s report. Tony, let’s begin with looking at overall staffing levels. We’ve talked about a couple of benchmarks related to staffing levels in the past: attendance to full-time equivalent staff. We’ve looked at staffing budget as a percentage of the overall budget. What did you learn about both of those benchmarks with the most recent survey data?

Tony (10:13):

Yeah, let’s take the first one, and this is staffing levels compared to attendance. Just to help you here cuz it, this does involve some math. What we, we first of all have to help churches calculate the number of full-time equivalent staff people that they have. And, the way you do that if you wanna do this math for your church is obviously a full-time person equals one full-time equivalent, but then you also probably have part-time staff working for you. And what you can do is combine all of the part-time hours that all of your part-time staff work in a given week and divide by 40. And that will give you a full-time equivalent for your part-time employees. And I always have to give an example here, but I try to make the math easy for me, Amy. So this is the way I’m gonna do it. Let’s say your church has two part-time employees. One works 35 hours a week; the other works only five hours a week. So you would combine those hours that would equal 40. Divide by 40 would equal one full-time equivalent. So those two part-time employees would equal one full-time equivalent. All right. So we’ve worked through the math. What we found in the surveys is that the average church now employs one full-time equivalent staff person for every 59 people in attendance. And by the way. . .

Amy (11:40):

Hey, that’s progress, Tony.

Tony (11:42):

That is progress.

Amy (11:43):

That’s progress.

Tony (11:43):

That, that number includes all staff, so both ministry staff and support staff, so administrative staff, facility staff, things like that. This is all total, total staff numbers. There was some disparity between smaller churches and larger churches.

Amy (12:02):


Tony (12:02):

And, in churches less than 200 people in attendance, those churches averaged 45 people in attendance for every full-time equivalent. The very largest churches, in this case, churches averaging more than a thousand people, had one full-time equivalent for every 77 people in attendance.

Amy (12:23):


Tony (12:24):

And when I saw that number, I was really encouraged because, Amy, as you know, kind of our benchmark for churches at The Unstuck Group is to encourage them to get to one full-time equivalent for every 75 people in attendance. And right now, large churches seem to be there. Of course, we continue to challenge churches, “If you can push to a higher ratio here, if possible, you should do it.” In fact, as an example, 12 of the largest churches actually exceeded one full-time equivalent for every hundred people in attendance, which means those churches really are focused on raising up, building volunteer teams, raising up volunteer leaders and really mobilizing the volunteers in their church to engage the ministry that other churches might be hiring staff to accomplish. So any reaction to that, Amy, as you see that?

Amy (13:19):

No, I’m just really encouraged because, boy, in 2015, I think the average church was at 67 to one. Yeah. And then, pre-pandemic 2019, we were down to 51 to one. So it seems like we have, we’ve been rebounding a little bit, meaning I think churches are taking to heart, “We need to take a look at how we’re staffing, how we’re equipping, how we’re giving ministry away.” And I hope we’re back to our actual benchmark of a hundred to one, you know, within the next 12 to 18 months as a target.

Tony (13:49):

I hope so. So the second benchmark we look at here related to staffing has to do with money. And the question is are, are churches investing, what, what amount of money are churches investing in their staff compared to the overall budget? And what we found here is that churches are investing more than half their giving in their ministry staff. And specifically, the average staff budget now is 52% of the overall ministry budget. And that, by the way, when we talk about staff budget includes salaries. It includes payroll taxes. It includes any benefits that you’re giving to your employees. Again, some differences between larger churches and smaller churches. Larger churches are actually investing a smaller portion of their ministry budget on staff. But here, just to help, give some guidance. The benchmark that we encourage churches to shoot for is anywhere between 45 and 55% on the high end. And so the average for all churches is, you know, closer to the middle. Actually, for the largest churches, a thousand or more, it’s exactly in the middle. The average is 50% right now, but when we look at those larger churches, I, I found several from the survey data that are actually investing less than 40% of their ministry budget in their staffing. And that’s encouraging because that just creates all kinds of flexibility then for the church to be investing resources and expanding their mission in their community. Well, around this topic today, we wanted to share a quick word from Darren Key, who is the CEO of our report sponsor this quarter: Christian Financial Resources. So thanks for joining me today, Darren.

Darren (15:42):

Well, thanks, Tony. And I just gotta say thank you to all you do. You’ve been a blessing to my home church in all that you’ve done with Unstuck Group and many of our partner churches across the country. So we really appreciate you guys.

Tony (15:54):

Well, related to today’s topic, we were talking a little bit about how, how much churches are investing in their staff resource, which obviously is, is really the most important thing that they’re investing in to accomplish the mission of the church. And, through the years, we’ve kind of used this 45 to 55% range as far as percentage of overall budget that churches are investing in staffing. And I’m curious from your perspective since you’re trying to help churches finance future expansion of their vision, buildings and, and so on, what, what’s the target that you’re usually shooting for with churches?

Darren (16:33):

Yeah, so we’ve funded over a thousand projects across the country, and I think your numbers would be really good for as you look across the landscape. But when we’re looking at churches, it’s churches that are getting ready to take on debt or they have existing debt. And one of the biggest challenges that churches have is if they’re spending a lot on staffing, then they can’t afford that payment. So we recommend 35 to 50%, and that gives them some room to handle that debt because we find a lot of churches can afford debt based upon their loan-to-value and other things. But if they’re already spending every dollar on staffing, they just don’t have room for a payment.

Tony (17:10):

So are there some common areas that you’re encouraging when you’re looking at trying to streamline the staffing in order to get that percentage down so that you can afford to invest more in future facilities and other aspects of vision expansion? Are there some areas that you’re encouraging churches to take a look at, Darren?

Darren (17:29):

Yeah. One of the keys is when I did my M.B.A. that that has always stuck with me is the importance of any organization outsourcing your non-core competencies. And, you know, for church, obviously the ministry you do is a core competency, but sometimes, accounting, I.T., H.R., some of those kind of things, they can be outsourced. And they can be a savings for the church. And then you’re also just focused on really what your mission is. So we really like that idea a lot, and we’re seeing a growing trend of that across the country.

Tony (18:02):

Well, thanks for sharing that, Darren. And thank you for being a part of this project. In fact, you can find more insights from Christian Financial Resources throughout this quarter’s Unstuck Church Report. There’s one more nugget of data, though, that I’d like to hit as we’re talking about general staffing trends. I was curious to learn more about the number of women in ministry. And so we specifically asked that in the survey, and honestly, I was a bit surprised at what we learned. There are, are actually more women than men on church staff teams. And of the churches that were surveyed, we found that staff teams were split 52% women and 48% men. And that means that men are actually slightly underrepresented on church staff teams when compared to just the, the average U.S. population.

Amy (18:57):


Tony (18:58):

Now, lemme say this, though. The overall numbers indicate men are slightly underrepresented on church staff teams. My sense is that women are largely underrepresented in staff leadership roles, and in future research, I’d really like to look more specifically at the number of women in staff leadership. Based on my experience, Amy, of working with hundreds of churches through the years, my sense is that healthy, thriving churches also tend to empower women leaders more effectively.

Amy (19:29):

Yeah. Doing a lot of staffing and structure reviews, this data doesn’t surprise me at all. I would’ve guessed that there would’ve been more women on the staff teams, and I think you’re spot on. The best churches are really trying to work in more diversity onto their leadership teams to get more women engaged in the actual leadership. So, well, the report also looks at how churches are allocating staff for various core ministry areas. And I have been waiting for this information, Tony. I get asked the question all the time, “How many should I allocate to each of these ministry lanes?” So, I know we can’t dive into all that data today, but will you share some of the highlights of what we learned around staffing to core ministry areas?

Tony (20:09):

Yeah. So, this is where really you need to kind of, you need to get a copy of the report and read through this, but I will try to share some highlights. We, as we collected information about the churches, we asked them about staff and for specific ministry areas and ministry roles. And in the full report, you’ll see that we segmented the data into four different categories based on attendance at churches. So you can see the breakdown for churches under 200, for churches between 200 and 499 people in attendance, from 500 to 999 people in attendance and churches that have more than a thousand people in attendance. And, Amy, there’s nothing magical about those categories. We just wanted to break it down so that we kind of had an equal distribution of responses for all four of those categories. But using the data we collected, let me just give you an example. We know that a typical church of 2,000 people, based on all that, all that survey information, we know that that church of 2,000 people has 26 full-time equivalent employees. And those 26 employees are allocated specifically in this way across the different ministries. Three people are in senior leadership, so there’s a senior pastor. There’s an executive pastor, and there’s one other senior leader. Next-gen ministries, according to the survey, that church of 2,000 people would have five and a half full-time equivalent staff people in next-gen ministries. Think kids ministry or student ministry. Sometimes, churches engage college students. So that would be reflected here as well. In the area of worship arts, that church of 2,000 would have five full-time equivalents in that area. So probably not just worship leaders for a church that size. This might include some staff people in the area of tech arts or in production roles or things along those lines.

Amy (22:11):


Tony (22:12):

In adult ministries, three and a half full-time equivalents. For digital and communications ministries, two full-time equivalents. In operations, these, this would be areas like finance and H.R. And technology and facilities, four full-time equivalents. And then, churches indicated there’s kind of an other category to capture other roles that aren’t represented by those ministry areas. And churches indicated that they would, they would have three people working in those other roles. Now, let me just share a few things related to that information. First, it’s interesting to me, as we were comparing churches of different sizes, larger churches tend to have a smaller percentage of people in leadership, senior leadership roles. However, larger churches, in turn, have more staff in adult ministry roles, and that includes staff for roles like groups and connections and care ministries and missions or outreach. I’m guessing that senior leaders in small churches probably oversee most of that because they just can’t afford to hire staff in adult ministries at that point. And so that might be some of the, the difference that we see between smaller and larger churches in that category. It was also interesting that larger churches tend to invest more staffing resources in next-gen ministries, but that’s also consistent with previous research that we’ve done using our Unstuck Health Assessment data, Amy, that also indicated there’s a strong correlation between the strength of a church’s children’s ministry and their ability to reach new people.

Amy (23:57):

Definitely. Yep.

Tony (23:58):

And then finally, it was interesting that the investment of staffing resources in digital and communications role is just about the same for every size church, and I did not expect to see that. It’ll be interesting, Amy, to see if this investment shifts over time as churches discover that online engagement is part of the, that front-door strategy that helps churches connect with new people. But I mentioned in the report, some may look at all that data and specifically have some concern around the fact that churches tend to hire more people in operations staff roles than they do adult ministries positions. I actually see that as a sign of health in a church’s staffing model.

Amy (24:42):


Tony (24:42):

And the primary reason is that adult ministries should be the easiest and most compelling reason for engaging volunteer leaders. Though it’s not impossible, it’s a lot harder to leverage volunteers in operations ministries. And many times, operations functions require people with either specialized skills or a level of experience that making those functions, they, they just make those functions more challenging for volunteer engagement.

Amy (25:11):

Yeah. I, I agree with that. And I thought it was also interesting to see the data that we collected that looked at church staffing by generation.

Tony (25:19):

Yeah, it is Amy. So again, we ask churches to respond with not only how many staff they have, but the generation that those staff land in. And we gave in the survey these breakdowns. This would be the current age of boomers is 59 to 77. Gen Xers, Amy, I like to refer to this as the greatest generation.

Amy (25:44):

Greatest ever.

Tony (25:45):

Yes. 43 to 58. Millennials right now are 27 to 42. Hard to believe. We, the oldest millennials are now in their forties, isn’t it?

Amy (25:55):

Well, what I like about that number is that Sean on our team, he’s right at that age, and he is referred to as a geriatric millennial. And I laugh every time I think of that.

Tony (26:04):

There you go. And then, Gen Z right now, they, they are 11 to 26. So when we compared the church staffing by generations to the U.S. population as a whole, here’s what we learned. Boomers are the generation that’s most overrepresented on church staff teams. Honestly, I’m not surprised by this.

Amy (26:28):

No, no.

Tony (26:28):

This is more so for smaller churches with less than 200 people in attendance. Small churches have 50% more boomers on their staff team than large churches do. And, and when you look at working-age boomers, they only make up about 9% of the U.S. population. But as an example, in churches with less than 500 people in attendance, boomers make up more than 20% of church staff teams. So just, it’s an overrepresentation of folks in that generation. Gen Z adults, on the other hand, are in the generation that’s most underrepresented on church staff teams.

Tony (27:08):

And again, this is most pronounced with smaller churches, which tend to only have one fourth of the number of Gen Z staff that we would expect to see based on the makeup of the overall U.S. population. Large churches with more than a thousand people, on the other hand, they employ about three times more young adults on their staff teams as smaller churches do. And while we’re on this topic of age, you might be curious to know that right now, according to the survey information, the average age of senior pastors across all churches is 51, which when I saw that number, Amy, “I was thinking, oh goodness, now I’m older than the average senior pastor.”

Amy (27:50):

Yes, you are.

Tony (27:51):

Squarely, this puts that the senior pastors now squarely in the middle of Generation X. And these lead pastors of large churches do tend to be slightly younger than the pastors leading smaller churches. And again, I mentioned in the report that the fact that larger churches have younger staff teams is something I think churches should probably pay attention to. I mean, there’s certainly a vitality in churches with younger staff that appears to be attractive to people of all generations. And again, I don’t have data to confirm this, but it seems that churches with older staff teams, they’re still able to reach and minister to older adults, but they tend to have challenges reaching younger adults. Whereas churches with a healthy representation of all the generations on their team seem to be multi-generational churches. So, and it’s just, again, evidence of you kind of reach who you are, Amy.

Amy (28:50):

Mm-hmm. Great insights. Tony, this quarter’s Unstuck Church Report is full of interesting information that takes a look at staffing trends in churches. So we certainly can’t cover everything today, but maybe we can finish just by looking at some of the staffing practices churches are leveraging, you know, to increase the health and the performance of their team.

Tony (29:10):

Yeah. Amy, I, I’d like to do this, and I’m kind of curious to get your reaction on some of these as well. So, I’m gonna kind of do these rapid fire, and then feel free to chime in as I’m running through these. So, quickly, I mean, one, one of the practices we looked at was just the number of churches engaging in succession right now. And found that one in four churches is actively planning for pastoral succession. Any surprise for you in that?

Amy (29:38):

Yes, doesn’t surprise me at all. I, that’s probably the exact math I would’ve chosen based on the churches we’ve been serving. They’re either just came through one, or they’re about to pull the trigger to head into one. Mm-hmm.

Tony (29:48):

Another one: more than half of churches have been through some staff restructuring within the last two years. And I kind of alluded to this at the top of today’s episode, but I just, I want you to feel comfortable as you’re looking at your structure that it’s okay to make changes. In fact, the, the largest growing churches, it really is almost every two years, they’re, they’re kind of revisiting their structure. Another practice, this was encouraging, more than three quarters of churches have developed written values or behaviors to shape team culture. And, Amy, that’s something that we help churches with. Do you wanna just, explain that a little bit?

Amy (30:28):

Yeah. I like that you say values or behaviors. What I find is that a lot of churches have these values written down, but they aren’t the distinct behaviors that define how this organization acts and behaves. And with the churches I work with, when we shift from values to behaviors, it’s a game changer, especially by the way, for the lead pastor. They’re usually the ones most excited about that because they want it to have teeth. They want it to be, they wanna be able to evaluate it. Do we have team members who are behaving the way we behave? Living, you know, out the mission, the way we live out the mission? So it doesn’t surprise me that three quarters of ’em have ’em written. I think my question would be for our listeners, “Do you just have values that talk about things that really everyone on your team should have because they’re in ministry? Or are they really the distinctive behaviors that define how you act as a team?”

Tony (31:17):

Yeah. I love that challenge, Amy. Again, in the full report, several other staffing practices. Let me highlight this last one, though. And for some of you pastors, you’re gonna think, “Well, of course.” For about half of you, apparently, you might wanna sit down for this one because the survey information, we found that about half of senior pastors are empowered to hire and fire all staff without board approval. Now, this practice helps to position obviously the senior pastor and their other staff leaders to have full accountability for the health and performance of the team. And senior pastors of large churches with 500 or more in attendance are almost twice as likely to have this authority as pastors of smaller churches do. And, Amy, I know that for some, you’re gonna, you just heard that, and you thought, “Why would we ever let the senior pastor have that much responsibility and authority?” And others of you are listening and thinking, “How in the world can you pastor a, a church and lead a staff team and not have that responsibility?”

Amy (32:25):


Tony (32:26):

I will just say, this is one of those areas where you have, for churches, if you want to continue to reach more people for Jesus and you actually want to build a team that’s healthy and high performing, you have to give your senior pastors this, this control on this authority. And we see it time and time again where it tends to be an issue is around churches that have dealt with some issue in the past, and they feel like they have to really hold the reins on their senior pastor. And it’ll put a lot of controls and a lot of of accountability in place. And I would just say, man, if you’ve hired a senior pastor that you can’t trust to make people decisions, you probably hired the wrong senior pastor. And I, I say that because I know for most of you listening, you have the capacity to do this, and you would handle that responsibility well in a healthy way. But I just want you to hear and feel free to pass this on to your board, you need that responsibility to build a healthy, thriving team.

Amy (33:30):

All right, Tony, well, any final thoughts before we wrap up today’s conversation?

Tony (33:34):

Well, I hope you know, the primary reason that we do this weekly podcast is because we want to equip and resource you church leaders to make a growing kingdom impact. And we want you to lead healthy, thriving ministries and that we routinely do a bit of a soft sell for engaging with our team at The Unstuck Group. This podcast is really more about the content to help you become a stronger ministry leader. Today, though, I kind of like to make a hard sell. And the reason why is I think, I think church leaders who are listening could use our team’s help, really need our team’s help with staffing and structure. Let me explain why. You may not realize it, but helping churches with staffing and structure has been part of what The Unstuck Process has been from the very beginning, almost 15 years ago. And we’ve probably helped more than 500 churches implement changes in their structure to make sure that they have the right people in the right roles. From redesigning the senior leadership team to bringing clarity to roles and responsibilities to right-sizing the staff team, our Unstuck team really has years of experience helping pastors adjust their structure so that they can focus more time on helping people meet and follow Jesus. Now, why is restructuring a part of The Unstuck Process and why is our team so interested in staffing trends like we’re talking about today? It’s because we know new vision and new ministry strategy will never get traction if it’s layered on top of an existing structure. A structure that was probably designed for different purposes and different strategies. And what worked in the past is not going to produce the same results if we’re trying to pursue a new direction. You can’t embrace a new direction without making appropriate structure changes. Strategy and structure changes must go hand in hand. We also know that because pastors don’t typically have the experience that business leaders have with staffing and structure changes, it’s really a critical component of how we serve churches, how we serve pastors. And really, if your ministry strategy doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders, it may not be the strategy that’s broken. It could be the structure instead. So if you sense something about your staffing structure is not working, I hope you’ll trust our wisdom and experience to help you move your mission forward. We have a great team of ministry consultants, and Amy’s one of them, who focus on working on the ground with pastors to address staffing and structure challenges that we’ve discussed today. And we can help, and we wanna help. And I hope you’ll consider reaching out to us at to schedule a conversation so that we can walk you through the options that are available. I really do want to help you fix your staffing and structure needs so that you can get back to engaging the mission God has placed on your life, including helping more people live the way of Jesus.

Sean (36:39):

Well, thanks for joining us on this week’s podcast. At The Unstuck Group, our goal is to help pastors grow healthy churches by guiding them to align vision, strategy, team and action. In everything we do, our priority is to help churches help people meet and follow Jesus. If there’s any way we can serve you and your church, reach out to us today at Next week, we’re back with another brand new episode. Until then, have a great week.

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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