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    Churches that Spend Only 10-35% on Staffing EXPOSED!

    Churches that Spend Only 10-35% on Staffing EXPOSED!

    This just in from my friend and colleague Warren Bird...  Thanks to over 700 churches that responded to Leadership Network's “lean staff” survey in January, we have some helpful insights for everyone. We compared churches that spend only 10%-35% of their budget on staff (which we call “lean”) against churches that use higher percentages for their staffing costs...

    Responses included churches of all sizes, from attendances of 50 to 20,000. Among the things we learned:

    * Lean staff churches do a better job with volunteers and lay leadership development.

    * Lean staff churches invest a noticeably higher percentage of their budget beyond the walls of their church.

    * Growing churches spend a smaller percentage of their budget on staffing costs, so they’re “leaner” than plateaued or declining churches.

    * Staff costs become leaner with size -- as overall weekend worship attendance increases, but not dramatically so.

    We conducted the survey in partnership with our friends at Your Church magazine and Leadership journal, both publications of Christianity Today International.


    Lean-Staff-report-cover Get the 45-slide presentation. Today we released the report pictured at right, for free download here. It’s in PowerPoint style, so it’s visual and easy to follow.

    Read a two-page summary: See Matt Branaugh’s “A Closer Look at ‘Lean’ Church Staffs.” He’s editor of Your Church magazine.

    Listen to a 12-minute podcast where Matt and I talk about the project, free download here.

    Next Steps:

    Consider joining our “Lean Staff” focus group, a one-day forum on May 20 in Dallas. We’ll cap attendance at 25 people for maximum discussion. This is for churches that:

    * Have staff costs at 35% or less of their total budget (or are intentionally and rapidly moving that direction).

    * Want to compare notes with others, learning healthy ways to downsize staffing costs.

    * Have a worship attendance (not membership) of 2,000 to 6,000.

    If you’d like to learn more, contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    This fall we’ll release another more in-depth report, announcing it in this blog and in Leadership Network Advance. No doubt we’ll blog a few other findings too, including a summary of learnings from the focus group.

    dollar-signs Salary Survey:

    As long as I’m writing about budgets and staff, may I invite you to be part of our just-launched 2010 Large Church Salary Survey? We conduct it every other year. Reports from previous years (2008, 2006, etc.) are available for free download at It’s a very popular download because larger churches with attendance of 1,000 to 25,000 want to learn from peers in their size range – which we cluster by different size groupings. Participants get the findings much sooner than everyone else. To participate, click or type this link: (case sensitive).


    Bird-Warren-jacket-adjusted Warren Bird, Ph.D., is Research Director at Leadership Network, and co-author of 21 books on various aspects of church health and innovation. Recent blog posts include More Sociologists “Get” Religion, Report from “The Unthinkables,” Meet Some Amazing Leaders Reaching Hispanics in America, More Large Churches Are Bridging the Racial Divide, Why Is “Everyone” Interested in Leadership Development, What’s New in Young Adult Ministries, Questions Raised by Executive Pastors, Downtown Churches: How Visible?, What Is Your Church Learning about Outreach? and Nigerian-Based Church Comes to North America.


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    1. Pastor Matt on Fri, April 09, 2010

      As some will recall from my thoughts shared in the comment section I have theorised much of the above and am glad to see some hard data in confirmation.  I think this model could bring a whole lot of people into the church.

    2. Shane Kennard on Mon, April 12, 2010

      Thanks for the hard data.  As a new church plant, “lean” is one of our goals.  Even though it is not where we currently are, we want to be in the 25% or less range.

      I do wonder…The focus group.  Why do you have only MEGA churches?  Are they the only ones who know how to have a lean staff?  Is this focus group only the first step?  Will this lead to smaller churches being involved?

      I love mega churches.  Overall, they are getting it done and we have so much to learn from them.  But are you limiting what you can learn from those who are small and struggling to get the percentage down?

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