The Case of the Disappearing Staff

There's a lot of talk about what kind of staff the "next church" will need to have. As budgets and membership rolls shrink, fewer churches will be able to afford a pastor, and more pastors will work part-time. Programmatic and support positions will shrink and be taken over by volunteers. The hope is always for churches to have the right-sized staff... and it's not the staff's job to do the ministry of the church, but to support the members and friends of the community as they engage in ministry. At Tiny Church, our staff is minimal: part-time pastor, part-time administrative assistant who works two half-days a week, organist/choir director who works Sunday mornings (plus preparation time), and a custodian. We also have two nursery workers who look after the kids on alternating Sundays during worship. I'm thankful for every one of these folks, all of whom do this work on top of other full-time jobs.

As a small church, the largest share of our congregation's budget goes to staff, which can make the budget tricky to interpret for folks. This year during stewardship season, we decided to have a little fun while highlighting all the behind-the-scenes work our staff does. We riffed on the Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life. Remember the alternate universe in which George Bailey had never been born? We put together a story (accompanied with photos) in which the the church suddenly found itself without any staff. Here's a small taste, but suffice to say that hijinks ensued!

For example, without a nursery worker, things got a little out of hand.

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How did James pull off that naughty expression so effortlessly?

Without a pastor to preach, other folks had to fill in as they were able.

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(This one should and does happen from time to time, by the way. Indeed, I sometimes  think the pastor is the most expendable person on a church staff...)

But without an administrative assistant, the mail got all messed up and the electric bill didn't get paid. Brrrr!

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Then there was the missing organist. Well, you can see people made do the best they could:

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In a church our size, money is always a topic of conversation. We are trying to have the mindset of a rich church rather than a poor one. Part of that mindset is to approach these topics with a light heart. On a personal level, I'm tickled that these people (and more who are not featured here) were willing to get their pictures taken doing silly things, often without knowing why.