The largest number of questions come from new pastors in this area of the ministry. When should I go full time? How do I know when it is time to bring others on staff? There is no specific “special” number or recipe for answering this difficult question. We will try to give you some guidelines to follow. The pastor is the first person who is to be brought on staff. The church cannot grow if the pastor cannot devote full time to it’s care and nurturing. He must be able to study, pray and be available for ministry to the congregation. Some pastors must work at outside jobs until the church is at a size that it requires his full time attention. The time to make the transition will always be a step of faith.
A personal note-
The Lord spoke to me very clearly when it was time to go full time on staff of the church I planted in Ramona, California. I had been working full time for a year at a secular job in Electronics Engineering. I asked the Lord to make it clear when it was time to go for it. The church was a little over a year old, about 75 adults and 50 kids. The offerings were about $3000-$ 3600 a month. The church expenses were about $2000 a month. I didn’t believe the money was there to provide a full salary. I was married and had two kids, ages 7 & 3. My boss called me in to his office in February of 1986 to discuss my future with the company. He told me that I had a great future with the company but I had to make a commitment in order to move into management. Could I give him the next few years of my life? If I couldn’t, they were making some staff changes that would eliminate my job. I told him of my calling to pastor the church in Ramona, and that I couldn’t make a long term commitment to the company, I had a church to pastor. I went away to pray.
God spoke to my heart in Joshua 5:10-12. The children of Israel were fed the manna every day until they crossed over the Jordan river into the promise land. The day after they ate the fruit of the land, the manna ceased. God spoke to my heart and said, “The job you have had for this past year is “manna” and now it is time to eat of the “Fruit of the Land”” I told my boss that it was OK to let me go and I went full time in the spring of 1986. The offerings increased from that day forward and continued to increase for the next 6 years. I have been full time in the ministry since June of 1981. Every week has been a step of faith and God has been faithful time provide every time.
When the church reaches a congregation size of 75-100 adults, the pastor needs to be full time. The spiritual needs of a body of this size needs a full time pastor. If you do not go full time at this point, the church will have a difficult time growing any larger. You can become stuck at this point for years, if you do not take the step of faith. As the church continues to grow, the following staff should be added:
Suggested Staffing Levels
Children’s Ministry Coordinator
(Part time at minimum)
Office Secretary (Volunteer)
(Staff person needed for every 250 additional adults)
The income of the church varies depending on the makeup of the church congregation, and the community it resides within. The largest portion of the new church budget initially will be on facilities and staff. As the church grows larger this percentage can become a smaller percentage overall, but staffing will always be a large component of the expenses of the church. We are to be provided for by the offerings of the church, but we are not to live extravagantly, above the congregation, nor is there anything spiritual about being financially destitute. Find the average in your congregation, the top income earners, and the poorest in the flock. Place yourself in the middle, with the largest representative group.
In the 21st century we are now experiencing a new opportunity in the area of staffing the church. We are currently at the beginning of the “silver tsunami”. Millions of men and women of the “Baby Boomer” generation are beginning to retire. A characteristic of this generation is they want to stay active and do something with value and purpose in their retirement. We have given it a name- we call it “re-wirement”. These men and women can serve in the ministry and not require as much salary, or in some cases they would like to serve for at minimal cost. There are huge opportunities for a church to develop the youth through internships, and engage the 55+ in meaningful service for the kingdom of God!