4 Reasons Your Church Staff is Quiet Quitting

Discover the top reasons why church staff are quiet quitting and learn effective strategies to ensure the support and health of your ministry.

Susanna Fleming

Digital giving apps and tools

In 2022, the phrase “quiet quitting” went viral on TikTok due to its resonance with emerging generations. According to the TikToker who popularized the term, this phrase describes people who choose to stay in their jobs but quit the idea of going above and beyond. “You’re still performing your duties,” says @zkchillin, “but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that has to be your life – the reality is, it’s not.”

Hustle Culture in the Church

As someone who grew up in a family of pastors and has worked in ministry for over a decade now, I understand the threat that “quiet quitting” might appear to pose for church leadership. Churches are primarily volunteer-run organizations, and their success is somewhat dependent on the generous leaders, staff members, and volunteers who go “above and beyond'' to give of their time and talents. If people start to check out or stop volunteering in addition to their 40 hours a week of vocational church ministry, we may be tempted to worry that things are simply not going to get done. 

At the same time, however, I’m wary of hustle culture in the Church. I’m concerned that our society’s preoccupation with everything fast-paced and productive has seeped its way into many church staff cultures, and this could be causing undue pressure and burnout. 

So what do you do when quiet quitting shows up on your church staff? Should you sound the alarm bells? Should you hire more committed workers? Or are there other ways to look at quiet quitting that may foster a healthier culture overall?  

Here are four reasons why your church staff may be quiet quitting and how you can respond to ensure the support and health of your team.

4 Reasons Your Church Staff is Quiet Quitting – And How You Can Respond

1. Inappropriate Expectations

Not too long ago, I found myself at a gathering for young church leaders. The material was deeply edifying, and I was reminded of why I love working in church ministry. Near the end of the gathering, however, the speaker made a comment that caused me to pause. “Before I worked in full-time church ministry, I worked 40 hours a week at my other job and volunteered at the church on top of that. Now that I work in a church, I should still be volunteering on top of my paid hours. We all should.” He went on to comment that sometimes working in a church requires sacrifice, like missing his son’s baseball games or his daughter’s music recitals. 

Though I understand the heart of this sentiment – we should be grateful to work in a church and give generously to support God’s mission – this does not mean that we should be expected to sacrifice the other important parts of our lives on the altar of ministry. There are times in which church staff can and should volunteer, but to ask a church staff to consistently volunteer for free is an inappropriate expectation. As 1 Timothy 5:18 says, “The worker is worthy of his wages.” If you sense that your team is quiet quitting, it may be time to reconsider the expectations being placed on them. 

2. Missed Sabbaths

Several years ago, my church leadership lovingly advised me to take a month-long sabbatical to recover from a wild season of church planting. Though I was terrified of slowing down, I knew that the Sabbatical was deeply needed. “Consider it an opportunity to make up for all the days you never took off,” my pastor said understandingly. I hadn’t Sabbathed enough. I hadn’t entered into the rest that God freely offers us. And in part, I didn’t do so because Sabbath wasn’t valued by my church staff. We never talked about it, and we didn’t have a culture of rest.

It is possible that people on your team are quiet quitting because they don’t have a healthy weekly rhythm of work and rest, and Sabbath is a key component of this weekly rhythm. Here’s the thing. Taking a day off isn’t just a good idea for church staff. It is essential! Church leadership must be diligent to both discuss it and model it, creating a culture that values rest as much as Jesus did!

3. A Lack of Empowerment 

When you ask your team for their opinion, do some people respond less than enthusiastically? Do they hesitate to get excited about new ideas or initiatives? If the answer to these questions is yes, it’s time to evaluate your workplace culture. At the start of a new job, most people are excited to share their ideas and use their gifts and strengths to make a difference. They feel encouraged and valued when they are entrusted with tasks and given the support they need to complete those tasks. 

Conversely, people tend to shut down when they are given a task list without real empowerment. If micromanagement is prevalent, people are unlikely to feel any sense of real ownership over their work. And this is where quiet quitting comes into play. People may “quietly quit” to avoid becoming too emotionally invested in a job that mostly brings them disappointment. What is the best way to address this? Begin giving people ownership! Trust your team with projects, and give them the encouragement and support they need to do the job they were hired for. I guarantee you will see positive changes in your team!

4. Transition is Brewing 

In some cases, one of your team members may be quiet quitting because a transition is ahead. Perhaps they are praying and processing their next step in life, and it is causing them to withdraw a little from their current position. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is moving them somewhere else, and they are not even aware that their season is coming to an end. 

As a church leader, you can use discernment and true servant leadership to come beside people on your team who God may be calling somewhere else. The only way to truly know this, of course, is to have a genuine, relational conversation. Be on their team. Let them know that you want God’s best for their life and you are there to pray with them and not pressure them. You may find that God is moving them into a role of greater – or just different — responsibility at your church. Or, perhaps God is moving them into a new season entirely. Either way, quiet quitting may be a good indicator of a fresh way God is going to move!

5. The Lord Builds the House

Ultimately, it’s important for church leaders to remember the words of Psalm 127:1. “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” It may be tempting to replicate hustle culture inside the walls of the church, but I don’t believe it belongs there. 

Some argue that “quiet quitting” is laziness manifesting in the workforce, and others view it as an appropriate application of boundaries when it comes to work-life balance. While both of these ideas can probably be true on a case-by-case basis, I like to look at it as more of a temperature check. 

Wrap Up

If quiet quitting is happening on your team, don’t panic. Acknowledge the importance of healthy expectations, rhythms of rest, and empowerment. Come alongside the people on your team to support them through seasons of transition, just a family would. By doing so, church leadership can promote a healthy ministry culture that helps their staff avoid burnout and thrive both personally and professionally. 

Looking for other ways to support your staff and avoid burnout? Breeze’s church management software takes on the bulk of the administrative burden, so your team doesn’t have to! Click here to learn more about our ChMS options.

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