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Knowing the Ratio of Leaders to Congregants for Your Church

By New Churches Team

More often than not, a church plant starts with a few committed people who are serving in many different areas. As the church grows, the demands grow. Thus, the need to raise up other leaders grows as well.  

How does a pastor know the ratio of leaders to congregants that his church needs? For example, in a church of 200 people, how many leaders and workers should there be in order for the church service, and beyond, to thrive? 

What is happening right now? 

The first question you must ask yourself is, “Currently, what is happening right now?” A lot of times we tend to ask questions about the future of our church before we ask questions about the present. However, if you don’t understand the present situation, it is impossible to make good decisions about your future. 

Where do you want to be?

Sometimes churches will think they are successful at reaching their community because there are a lot of people that attend each week. But, it is also important remember to examine the demographics of your community and surrounding neighborhoods. If they do not match the demographics of your church, you may only be reaching a segment of the community in which your church is situated.  

If you are only reaching a segment of your community, look at it as an opportunity for growth. Take the time to examine the areas in which you are present, look at your community, and then pray about where you want the future of the church in the community to be. It may require you to staff and point certain resources in a different manner toward this new goal. 

Ratio of volunteers to congregants

Once you have a good idea of where you are in all key functional areas of the church, it is time to examine how many volunteers you have to the ratio of congregants. Make sure to distinguish between adult and child attendees because the ratio—and subsequent need—will look different when it comes to kids, students, and adults. 

Different ratios for different groups 

The kinds of groups you have within the church will determine what ratios of leaders and volunteers you need. For example, if you want every person in your church to be involved in a life group, you may need a ratio of one leader to every 12 people. In a Sunday School class or mid-sized community setting, the ratios may be larger with one leader to every 20 to 50 people. 

When it comes to coaching and developing leaders, the ratios will not be as large. The ratio of small group coach to small group leaders should not be 1 to 12. The ratio should be more like 1 to 4.

An important question to ask

An important question to ask is, “Before we staff or put more volunteers in place, do we need this ministry? Is this a should do, must do, or want to do?” It is imperative to continually audit the opportunity cost of every endeavor. We should be willing to stop, start, and refine programs as needed. 

The ministry may have served a need that no longer exists. Though it may be difficult to end a certain program, it is important to remember that the mission stays the same, but the methods and people do not. 

Adapted from the New Churches Q&A Podcast, Episode 326: How to Know the Ratio of Leaders to Congregants. Click here to subscribe and listen to more to church planting, multisite, and multiplication tips.


New Churches Team

NewChurches.com wants to help you build a strong foundation by connecting you with top experts in the field of church planting and multisite ministry, and by regularly providing you with the resources, information, and community you need to thrive as you multiply the mission of Matthew 28.


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