When You Have to Fire Someone You Don’t Want to Fire
By New Churches Team
When you think about our COVID-19 context, everything began shutting down in March. There were government programs put in place to help employers. Those programs were intended to try and prevent layoffs from happening, but, in some cases, it just delayed the inevitable. When it relates to the church context, if giving decreases or as ministry changes, you may be forced to fire staff members that you don’t want to fire.
The Three Ms
When you are looking at your personnel budget, often it feels like family, especially in a smaller church. If you aren’t careful during this time, your personnel budget can greatly exceed your ministry budget. Before COVID, your budget may have been 40% personnel, but during this time you’ve cut many things to save jobs and now your budget is 60% personnel.
To remain solvent as we move into the final phase of this year, you need to decide what ministry has stopped and isn’t coming back, what ministry has shifted and will come back, and how you shift dollars around to cover that. You have to consider mission, methods, and men. The mission doesn’t change, but the methods and men might. Be loyal as much as you can be, but as a steward, you have to make wise decisions.
Making the Decision
Look at the ministry and the people they are developing. It’s easy to replace someone who just does stuff. It is not easy to replace people that develop people and develop ministry. The first positions to look at are the ones that just do stuff. Some would consider first cutting contractor jobs, but there are reasons to have contractors. If people are just doing tasks or are particularly gifted to do just one thing, it is better as a contracted position. There may be jobs on your staff that are better suited as contractor or part-time roles. Create a plan and a contingency plan in the event that the effects your church is experiencing last longer than anticipated.
Time for Creativity
Talent is what is most important about your ministry. If you have an equipper or a person who is a developer, that helps you. You want people on your team who are the multipliers of ministry. If you are considering letting someone go that you do not want to let go, be honest with that person and be creative with them about ways to save the job. Consider together what you can do if you make changes to the previous methods. More often than not, you can find a creative solution.
A percentage cut for all staff may be something to consider if you just can’t lose positions. The second thing to consider may be a challenge to cut salary or cut hours, but then help them find a side job to make up the lost dollars. In the short term, what can you all do that you can see as an evangelistic opportunity.
Adapted from the New Churches Q&A Podcast Episode514: Firing Someone You Don’t Want to Fire. Click here to listen to more to church planting, multisite, and multiplication tips.