How to Increase Church Staff Without Spending a Dime

I suspect if you are in a growing church, that you and your staff feel stretched to accomplish all there is to do. You have probably said aloud that you are “understaffed”. I know, because it is part of being a growing church….and I’ve said it many times. In any organization, growth brings stress to systems and structure. Growth in staffing needs will always outpace growth in cash flow.

What if you could increase the size of your staff without spending a dime?

You can. You may not be able to hire for a new paid position, but you could:

  • Raise up new leaders
  • Empower some volunteers
  • Hand out authority
  • Increase your delegating
  • Release some control
  • Share some vision
  • Enlist some support

Chances are, regardless of your church size, that you have some untapped leadership already in your church. They have skills you and your team don’t have. They may not be leading yet, they may not even appear committed at this time, but it also could be that they are waiting for an opportunity. They may need to be recruited. Some of the best leaders in your church are serving elsewhere in the community, but need to be asked to join your efforts in the church.

I’ve noticed many pastors and church staffs holding too tightly to the positions of leadership. This limits the church’s growth, stresses out the staff, and keeps volunteers from growing in experience and faith.

Take a risk on a new leader for your church. Recruit someone and give them a simple task as a trial run. I wouldn’t start with the finance chair position, but find something with an ending date, a special project perhaps, and let them lead. See how they do in a smaller role. You will discover that some people will let you down. That happens with paid staff, too. Evaluate if the problem was you or them and go from there. Remember that they may not do things your way, but analyze based on reaching the mission of the church. You may find a new volunteer staff member who can handle other, on-going, even larger tasks.

You may also want to read:

10 Ideas in Developing a Recruitment Strategy
Test Drive a Volunteer Opportunity
10 Steps to Replacing Yourself and Add New Leaders

If you are reading this post as a pastor or church leader, I’d love to hear from you. Who is your church, where is it, and what is your role there? Are you currently understaffed?

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11 thoughts on “How to Increase Church Staff Without Spending a Dime

  1. My church is going through the opposite, a dwindling, ageing congregation, with the required tasks being divided among less and less people.
    (None of us are paid).
    I was encouraged by a priest to join in with the setting up of a baby and toddler group, but our staff of 5 is now down to 2, and now I am trapped, if I leave, it will shut.
    The group is doing well, and we have 10 children who have “graduated” up to Sunday school over the past couple years, and I help with that too, but is is hard going to give up two mornings a week, every week, all year round.

  2. We’re a church with 15% growth in last 10mths. Averaging attendance of 600+ on Sunday across three services…
    One of our biggest challenges is staffing.
    We recently moved our admin function from one full time paid person to a team of six volunteers who cover the week. This enabled us to employ a further pastoral leader almost full time.

    It’s about employing the key people who make things happen and giving them the freedom to recruit volunteers who also things happen.
    Exponential influence and impact!

    • Thanks for the good illustration and for leading a church well! Love to see God at work!
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  3. Good stuff Ron. I left a church once because the pastor and his staff wouldn't delegate anything to anyone. If you came to them with an idea for a new ministry, they'd dismiss you and then a few months later they would suddenly be leading a ministry in the same way. Then they would complain that no one was volunteering at the events they would set up and how it was "our obligation as a church member" to do what they told us to do. When it was credit time, the lead pastor was always right out front to talk to a TV camera or a reporter. Always thanked his staff who usually weren't the ones doing the work.

    The churches I've worked hardest in as I've moved around the country are the ones where the pastors didn't care who got the credit as long as the Kingdom was advanced. Eventually those churches stopped being about anyone getting credit and all about everyone serving Christ with their gifts in whatever way was needed at the time.

  4. This is a good thing, and something we are learning as a church plant staff. We can't afford any more staff (let alone ourselves) so we have a high value on raising leaders and delegating to those leaders.

  5. (Though I am not a pastor or church leader) I will say that in India it's a mixed picture. Some churches are currently understaffed while some are overstaffed. Understaffing arises primarily due to poor pay. On the other hand, since India is highly populated country, supply of labor is always high and churches also get people despite poor pay.

    I realize that things may be different in US.

    • Yea, ministry here isn't as poor paying I'm sure, but it won't get you rich either. The problem with understaffing is usually not being able to afford to pay more staff.
      Twitter: Ronedmondson