How to Increase Church Staff Without Spending a Dime

The person you need to fill a staffing gap is probably already in your congregation, waiting to be empowered.

Pastor, I suspect if you are in a growing church you and your staff feel stretched to accomplish all there is to do. You have probably said aloud you are “understaffed.”

I know, because it is part of being a growing church and I said it many times in church revitalization, but especially in church planting. In any organization, growth brings stress to systems and structure. Growth in staffing needs will always outpace growth in cash flow to add more staff.

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 more authority
• Improve your skill of delegating
• Release even more control
• Cast your vision to others
• Enlist additional supporters

Chances are, regardless of your church size, you have some untapped leadership already in your church. There are people with 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 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 will need to be asked to join your efforts in the church. In fact, I usually found some of the best leaders weren’t serving because they hadn’t been recruited.

(When I left the church where I was pastor we had seven amazing people on our finance committee, for example. They were godly, intelligent and absolutely brilliant in the handling of finances. Of those seven, three had never served in any leadership position in our church before I asked them, including the chairperson, and two had never served on finance, even though they were highly experienced in their field. They didn’t volunteer. We recruited them.)

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I’ve noticed many pastors and church staffs holding too tightly to positions of leadership; or leadership is held among a small recurring group of volunteers. This limits the church’s growth, stresses out the staff and keeps new people from growing in volunteer experience, which always seems to directly grow them in their faith. (Jesus seemed to understand and practice this method of discipleship.)

Here’s my encouragement: 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 some people will let you down. Of course, this also happens with paid staff. Then you evaluate if the problem was you or them and go from there.

Keep in mind, people you recruit may not do things your way, but analyze their efforts 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.

And, suddenly you will realize you’re not as understaffed as you thought you were.

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Ron Edmondson is CEO of Leadership Network, former pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, and the planter of two churches. This article originally appeared on RonEdmondson.com.