Robert Morris: Gateway Church is Doing Well and So We Are Reducing Staff

On April 18, I reported that fourth largest American church Gateway Church in Southlake TX was in the process of laying off about one-third of church staff. Two days later a church spokesman said the layoffs would reduce staff by 10-15%. 聽Today, Robert Morris told his congregation that the reduction would be “15 to 20%.” Watch:

Transcript:

One thing I want to tell you, one other thing. Uh, this is really true. There’s one other thing. Before I, uh, start the message, is I want to let you know that we’ve been in the process of evaluating everything that we’ve been doing around here, uh, for several months now.
It started last fall, at our elders’ retreat. And we’re in dynamic growth at Gateway Church. We have been growing dynamically for years and years and it, it hasn’t stopped at all. And we felt like the Lord spoke to us on the retreat last fall, that this growth is going to continue.
And so we need to prepare for the growth, and so, we’ve done what many corporations or organizations have done. We’ve gone through everything we’re doing, we’re saying, ‘Is this the most efficient way and the most effective way to minister to people?’
We’ve looked at all of our positions, we’ve looked at all paid staff, we’ve looked at all volunteers, we’ve um, looked at all of our processes, uh, and we’ve come to the conclusion that we need to make some changes, in how we do things. So we could do things, uh, better. And not be as “busy” maybe as we are, so you’ve got more time to minister to people, be with your family, and yet still be equipped.
And so, we met with, again, every person on staff. And our meetings have been fantastic. We have the best staff in the world. I mean, we have, phenomenal–if you’ve dealt with our staff, I think you know what I mean.
But we realized that we’re overstaffed. And so as we, as we met with all- everyone on staff, we felt like offering some very generous transition packages. And so we had many of our staff that said, ‘You know, I’ve been feeling like God’s saying something different to me, and that I’m supposed to do something else, and so, thank you so much, because this will help me.’
And then also as we went through this, some positions, we realized, are not needed any more. And so we’re going through about a 15 to 20% reduction in staff.
And I wanted you to know that, so that if you hear something, you’ll know why. We’re trying to do what God’s called us to do, more efficiently, and we’re also trying to prepare for the growth that we have in future, and cause that growth to be sustainable.
So um, our growth is– our attendance is up, our giving is up, uh, every- the church is doing well, but we decided we’ve got to make some changes.
So here’s what I want to ask you to do. I want to ask you to pray for these–our staff, the part of our staff that’s going to go through a transition. Many of you have been through a transition. The great thing about being a child of God, and going through a transition, is that God already knows what he has for you next. And God knows that, but I want us to be in prayer.
So I wanted you to hear from me, why we’re doing what we’re doing, and what we’re doing, in case you heard it from somewhere else, it was in the newspaper, on the news this last week, uh, but we have– there’s no financial problems, we are simply trying to do what we do, better. And so we are going through this re-evaluation processes, and it has been absolutely phenomenal.
So again, please pray for our staff, for the ones that will go through a transition, all right? All right.”

Morris puts a nice spin on events but it seems improbable that the reduction is because of growth in attendance and giving. One way to look at church finances is that the church has overspent revenues by $23-million in 2015 and 2016.
Morris said the elders decided to downsize last fall. So after they decided to eliminate positions and charge the youth group for pizza, they also decided to co-sponsor an expensive inaugural ball for President Trump.
Morris uses a business rationale to say downsizing is due to growth (i.e., rightsizing). If Gateway was bringing in machines to take the place of humans, then one might understand how growth in revenues and efficiency might be an outcome of downsizing. Otherwise, his explanation doesn’t seem convincing.