Due to the failing economy and a decline in attendance numbers, The Chapel in Akron, Ohio needed to make budget cuts. They had to trim $760,000 from their staff budget … which meant laying off people that they loved. Below is the downsizing plan–the plan on how they made the decision and communicated that decision to the staff and congregation.


The Chapel is a vibrant church with 4,500 in worship. Yet, we have a staffing level that fit us in 2006 when we had 6,000 in worship. Restructuring our staff is essential so that we can continue to pay our bills and lead effective ministry.

First Level Discussions

  • Discussion with the Finance Committee (1/20) and ensuing emails.  This set the level to restructure between $750,000 and $850,000.
  • Prayer and discussion with the Leadership Team (1/25)
  • Discussion with the Trustees (1/27)
  • Initial presentation with the Pastors, Directors and Managers (2/1)
  • The subject raised with the congregation in the Senior Pastor’s column in the e-news and bulletin (2/4)
    • Like many churches (and schools and businesses) these days, we are faced with some significant economic challenges. These will potentially affect ministry and staffing issues. Soon, both in print (and web) and spoken up front on Sunday, we will plainly talk to The Chapel’s family about these challenges. We know and pray together that, by God’s grace, we will meet those challenges with resolve and wisdom. Stay tuned.

Second Level Discussions

  • Extensive discussions with all levels of staff about options and possibilities (ongoing). From these discussions we are assembling a draft plan:
    • Alpha list of restructuring options—$420,000
    • Beta list of deeper restructuring options—$652,000 cumulative total
    • Gamma list of very deep restructuring—$883,000 cumulative total
    • List of supplementary staff to achieve the restructuring—$65,000
  • Leadership prayer and discussion of restructuring concepts (2/5)
  • Prayer and vision meeting with Trustees (2/10)
  • Subject raised again with the congregation in Paul’s column in the e-news and bulletin (2/10)
  • Presentation to the congregation, Part 1  (2/13)
    • This will be a challenging presentation, to convey the health of a church with 4,500 people in worship, yet with the need for restructuring. Please pray for this.
  • Postal mail letter to all active donors (2/14)
    • This is perhaps the hardest piece for all of February … positive, encouraging, thankful, transparent, real, honest.
  • E-news copy of Paul’s letter (2/17)
  • Presentation to the congregation, Part 2  (2/20)
  • Follow-up message in e-news (2/24)

Third Level Discussions

  • Finance Committee (2/17) to review alpha, beta and gamma options
  • Leadership Team (week of  2/21)
  • Trustee Committee (2/24) to review alpha, beta and gamma options

Implementation of Restructuring

  • Talking to the pastors (Tuesday)
  • Talking to all other staff (Wednesday)
  • Publishing the public letter to the congregation and community
  • Interviews for newspapers and radio
  • Talking to the congregation