US megachurch Willow Creek Community Church has announced it will lay off 30 per cent of its staff due post-Covid following steep drops in attendance.
In a video announcement to the congregation, senior pastor, Dave Dummitt, said the church is “half of the size we were before covid,” which he says is “right in line” with churches across the US.
But even before the pandemic, the Chicago-based church was already struggling with a dwindling congregation due to the scandal that hit their then senior pastor, Bill Hybels.
Several allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse of power were made against Hybels, which lead to a number of senior church leaders quitting over the handling of the allegations.
Hybels eventually stood down from his position as senior pastor and in 2020, Dave Dummitt was appointed as his successor.
Pastor Dummitt said that the decision to cut staff was “extremely difficult” but explained that it would save the church around $6.5 million.
“We want to operate with a balanced budget, in confidence that God will provide all we need to do the work He has called us to. As we projected into 2023, we identified a significant gap between our expenses and our reality. We have healthy financial reserves for emergencies, but do not want to fund ministry with reserves.”
It continued: “These changes are difficult on staff members whom we love who will no longer have a staff role—some of them have been with us for many years…We are providing generous financial care for each of these individuals, ranging between three months and one year based on tenure.”
The church also laid off staff in 2019 and 2020.