Identifying churches that spend less than 35 percent on staff
By Matt Branaugh
A new survey of U.S. churches suggests that 1 in 7 spends less than 35 percent of its annual budget on staffing costs.
The finding, drawn from the recent "Lean Staffing" survey conducted by Leadership Network and Christianity Today International's Your Church magazine and Leadership journal, may begin to help churches more accurately assess how many paid staff members they need to effectively minister.
The survey polled 735 leaders from Protestant and evangelical churches across the United States. Of that, the study separated 539 respondents to generate the "lean staffing" comparison: 15 percent of that group spends less than 35 percent on staff, while the rest spend between 35 percent and 65 percent.
Fact2008 says that the average U.S. church spends 45 percent of its annual budget on staff, according to Warren Bird, director of research with Leadership Network. In Your Church's 2009 Church Budget Priorities, nearly 1,100 church leaders say they spend, on average, 41 percent of their annual budgets on staffing. Other organizations, including the National Association of Church Business Administration, estimate the average runs closer to 50 percent—and sometimes higher—for many congregations.
Church leaders often say they want to spend less on personnel and more on outreach. But those same leaders also often say they aren't aware of other churches using smaller staffing models well to accomplish that, Bird says.
Now there's at least some data to suggest such churches do exist.
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