In his Posterous blog, church consultant George Bullard asks: “How many staff persons should a congregation have?” This is a question that has gotten a whole lot more complicated in the past couple of decades. Here is how I historically would answer the question for the typical traditional congregation:
• If the congregation has a weekly worship attendance of 80-85 or less, it probably needs a part-time to full-time pastor (with emphasis on part-time), a part-time secretary and perhaps a part-time music director (although this often can be a voluntary role).
• If a congregation has a weekly worship attendance of 80-135, it is approaching the place where a full-time pastor makes sense, with a part-time secretary, a part-time music director, and perhaps a part-time program director.
• Somewhere between 175-225 in attendance needs a full-time pastor, a full-time secretary and four other part-time staff. Examples would be a music director, discipleship director, program director and either a youth director or children’s director. It does not need a second full-time ministerial staff person yet, but can get more “bang for the buck” with the four part-time people.
• At around 300 in attendance, I would add a second full-time ministerial staff person to this mixture; but on the way there, I probably in the 200s would add a fifth, sixth and seventh part-time person for a short period of time until the budget works up to paying for the second full-time ministerial staff person.
• After 300, congregations probably need to add a full-time equivalent of a new ministerial staff person about every 125 in average weekly worship attendance. This can be four part-time people or one full-time person.
• If a congregation has a strong, proactive disciple-making process, it will have to add fewer staff people.
• The higher a congregation is socio-economically, the greater the tendency to over-hire.
• Congregations need to think more about contracted services as they grow larger rather than just adding staff members.
• Part-time people ought to be what I call 22-44 Ministry Mobilizers who work 22 hours a week for 44 weeks a year. Often four of these can be employed for the cost of one full-time staff person. These people are placed on a one- to three-year covenant that can be renewed if the person and position still fit the needs of the congregation.