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Need 10 Job – Hire 5 – Pay like 7

In previous posts, I have outlined some thoughts on staffing in the church:

These two consistently rate among the highest read articles on my site. The reason strikes me as quite simple: In all the training pastors go through, they never learn how to lead and mange a staff. I wanted to pick up on those previous posts and ask the next question that church leaders must face: How much do we pay? If you spend all that time identifying the right people to have on the bus who match the mission of your church and demonstrate the character, competency and chemistry you are looking for, don’t you want to keep them for a while?

There are many resources on church salary such as the MinistryPay.com salary survey or the Compensation Handbook for Church Staff by expert Richard Hammer. The limitation of those books is that they tell you what other churches are paying their people, not what you should pay your people. For most churches, the real struggle is that the list of positions they want to hire is a mile long and yet, the dollars are limited. It is at this tension point that between a lot of jobs, the desire to keep your best people and the limited dollars available that I put forward this concept: If you have 10 positions open, hire 5 and pay like their 7. Let me explain…

  • 10 Positions Open: What are the open positions that you have at your church? Identify that list of positions you would like to hire. For the sake of this discussion, let’s suppose you identify 10 positions.
  • Hire 5: If you have 10 positions, you 1) are unlikely to have the money to hire all of them and 2) even if you did, it’s probably not a good idea. Churches must consistently remember that the job of the paid staff is to train and deploy God’s people to serve, not to do all the work ourselves. If you hire every job you come up with, you will burn through dollars and you will limit the ability of your people to fulfill their God-given call to serve. So if you have those 10 positions, look to hire 5 of them.
  • Pay like 7: Here’s the catch. When you hire those 5, pay them like they are 7 people. You still come out three positions ahead (paying “7” salaries instead of the original 10) and you are setting yourself up to retain those people that you worked so hard to find.

We all know verses like 1 Timothy 5:18 (“The laborer deserves his wages”) and Matthew 10:10 (“The laborer deserves his food”). And in my denomination, when a pastor is installed at a church, the congregation is asked, “Do you engage to continue to him while he is your pastor that competent worldly maintenance which you have promised, and to furnish him with whatever you may see needful for the honor of religion and for his comfort among you?” That is, will the church agree to pay the pastor appropriately and fairly so he’s not worried about money and is free to serve?

The concept is great. But, practically, how does a church do that with so many potential positions and limited dollars? My suggestion: Have 10 jobs? Hire 5 and pay like their 7.


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