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Is your staff too large?

Is your staff too large?

Now that I have your attention — I have been sharing some thoughts on managing jingle in the church. Thought one was: View His resources with more care than your own. Thought two was: Spend less than you receive.

Here is thought three Watch those payroll costs.

Typically churches spend 50-55% of their annual budget on personnel costs. Some churches go as high as 60-65% of their annual budget allotted for personnel costs. Others stay extremely lean at around 40%. (Note: you must be sure your comparing fairly. One church may outsource custodial costs and not count that as part of personnel dollars while another has in-house facility staff which is included in their compensation budget.) 


I understand that there is thinking and planning behind each school of thought. For example, those with high percentages allotted toward personnel deeply believe that people reach people, and they invest in staff more than in facilities, equipment, production, etc. Then those with low percentages of personnel costs may be highly committed to volunteerism or they may just be stuck with a high debt retirement plan.


Currently, I find myself more of the lean school of thought, and we have 45% of our budget allocated towards staff. Here is my current thinking…


— I am more convinced in the power of volunteers who are paid in another profession but are extremely talented and gifted for the Church. From two guys who serve as volunteer campus pastors to a team of men who now care for the yard and landscaping so we could cancel the lawn contract, I am seeing that many people are hungry to offer themselves for the Kingdom. And many of these people should stay in the workforce where they can represent Christ in the public square while making major contributions at their church.

— I believe, in some cases, that effective systems can reduce the need for more staff. I love staff and really do want more. But effective systems can reduce the number of staff needed. Instead of first thinking, “who can we hire for this,” I would rather think, “can we design a system that executes this critical task?”

— I do not want to worry about making payroll when we have periods of a recession or slowed giving. I met with a church leader recently who has a budget that is 80% debt retirement and personnel. Ouch. This means there is very little margin and very little room for other things. It also means that every time there is a low offering, they scramble trying to pay bills.


Just where I am today…


Where do you land in your current thinking of amount of budget allocated to staff? (a) Large staff – 60%  (b) Middle of the road – 50% to 55% (c) Lean staff– 40%-45%





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