New Study Reveals the State of Staffing and Leadership of the Church Across America

Clubs and Organizations

February 4, 2015

Vanderbloemen Search Group Partners with The Unstuck Group on research project to help churches build more effective teams

Houston, TX - Vanderbloemen Search Group, the full-service pastoral executive search firm, has partnered with church consulting firm The Unstuck Group on the Next Level Teams research project, a study to help churches build more effective teams and to discuss the varied health of staffing the Church across America.

Conducted with 628 church leaders across the country and the highest level of staff leaders who meet regularly to discuss the direction of the church, including Lead, Executive and Administrative Pastors, the study outlines key elements of church leadership development, hiring practices, measurable goals, structure, attendance growth, and most importantly Senior Leadership Teams.

"With the hope of helping church leaders make the investments to lead at the next level, this study demonstrates the reality that staffing among Senior Leadership Teams is crucial to foster success in churches of all sizes," said William Vanderbloemen, CEO of the Vanderbloemen Search Group. "Similar to the corporate and business world, transparency and strategy are core ingredients for success and growth, but going beyond financial concerns, people are your greatest asset."

The health of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) is the single greatest contributor to the health of a church. The average Senior Leadership Team consists of five staff members, with only 10 percent of teams consisting of eight or more individuals. Those SLTs with a greater number of staff often struggle to have productive discussions over matters involving vision, strategy and action plans that guide the organizational decisions of the church. On average, churches that report having a unified SLT are growing more than twice as fast as those that do not.

New Key Findings:

  • Reaching the unchurched: The average church in this study grew in attendance by 10 percent between 2012 and 2014, but there is no difference in effectiveness from any size church.
  • Women in leadership: Four out of 10 churches do not include a woman on their Senior Leadership Teams, with megachurches (3,000+ attendees) having the fewest number of women involved.
  • Small by numbers: Smaller churches (0-499 in attendance) grew by 12 percent on average, slightly faster than any other church size.
  • Lean staffing goes a long way: Megachurches (3,000+ in attendance) use far less staff per capita because they rely three times more heavily on volunteers

More interesting stats can be found via the accompanying infographic of church staffing.

"The level of influence from senior church leaders on vision and strategy is directly correlated with church attendance," said Tony Morgan, founder of The Unstuck Group. "However, the subject of church health, which is often confused with the size of a church, is better indicated through the two critical indicators of attendance growth and baptisms, which are most impacted by having senior staffing in place to clearly define the mission and vision of ministries."

Shaping Future Leadership
The lack of a leadership development strategy is the greatest missing piece among most churches, as only 19 percent of churches have one in place. While most churches (72 percent) financially invest in the development of their staff, only 30 percent of churches [that] have someone on staff to develop leaders.

Churches "Healthy and Growing"
While more than half of church staff members (62 percent) see their church as "healthy and growing" (47 percent think otherwise) there is a need for improved health among church staff teams. Lead indicators resulting from combined strategies, structure and measurable goals that are clearly defined for staff members can improve the overall health of a church. (More detailed explanation regarding "church health score" can be found via the downloadable report.)

For more information or to download a copy of Next Level Teams please visit

Survey Methodology
The Staffing and Structure Survey conducted a survey from September 2014 with 628 paid-staff members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLTs) consisting of the highest level of staff leaders who meet regularly to discuss the direction of the church the top three positions held by respondents being Lead Pastor (28%), Executive Pastor (19%) and Administrative Pastor (9%). There were 395 respondents that fully completed the survey. Of the church respondents having an average church weekly attendance of 1,580 people, with the minimum being 30 church attendees and the maximum being 24,000 church attendees, the respondents from the following church sizes were recognized: 164 churches with attendance of 0-499, 115 churches with attendance of 500-999, 123 churches with attendance of 1,000-2,999, and 57 churches with attendance of 3,000-24000.