Money and the Church: A Fulltime Story

Today’s post is part of a synchroblog dealing with money and the church. It is a pretty broad topic, and many people are writing about different aspects of “money and the church.” At the bottom of this post you’ll find a list of links of other contributors to this subject. Today, I am going to write about some news I recently heard.

The other day I was speaking to one of our brothers. I asked him how things were going with the church that he met with. He told me about a recent deacon meeting. During the meeting the pastor told them that he was being stretched at all ends and something needed to change. His schedule is pretty cumbersome, he works full-time, he goes to classes (a couple per semester), and he teaches Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Apart from that I am not sure he has many other “duties” required of him by the church, but still doing all those things can be quite burdensome, especially when you have a wife and a few children to take care of.

At this meeting he gave them the break down of all his monthly needs/wants; he even made it clear that he would be willing to get rid of some luxuries to lower his monthly costs. He also made it clear that he wants to pastor this group. The deacons were in full agreement, they want a full-time vocational pastor. At the next business meeting, they’re suppose to bring it for all the members to vote on.

A few questions ran through my mind: Is this where God wants this man? What will happen if they vote against this? Will he leave or stay? Are there any other solutions that will free up his time? Is what he expects as a pastor biblical? Is what the deacons expect from a pastor biblical? Is what the rest of the members expects from a pastor biblical?

Paying this person extra money will allow him to quit his secular job. This will allow him to start doing visitations, more counseling, more studying, etc. From what I currently understand about “church,” I see this as a huge waste of money. As many of you know, I do not believe that pastor’s should receive a salary. Mainly because I do not see the majority of their “duties” in scripture. If we want to pay a person to visit, to counsel, and to study, than fine – it’s a free country – but that is not what makes a pastor.

Here is a recent Job Listing I was given for a “Family Minister/Associate Pastor”:

Description:
Needed at First Baptist Church in *****, NC, located in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina: A loving, passionate and spirit-filled individual who feels called to serve God as a minister for all age groups. This individual will be asked to work with Ministry teams and councils to reach withing the church and greater *****/***** County community by planning, coordinating, promoting and executing a comprehensive program of activities. Enthusiastically develop fellowship, Christian education, evangelistic outreach and visitation.

Requirements:
* Assist the Stewardship Ministry Team in preparing and administering the family ministries annual budget
* Preparing monthly calendar and reports
* Supervision of custodial staff
* Maintain scheduling and supervision of church vehicles
* Oversee construction projects and the furnishing, maintenance, staffing and operation of same
* Attending regularly scheduled staffing meetings and Church Council
* Assisting the Pastor in planning, conducting and evaluating congregational services.
* Must have a seminary degree – be an open minded person with a listening and discerning ear and spirit who is able to take initiative in a Godly way.

I do not think this strays too far from what you would normally find in a vocational pastor’s job description. This particular job is paying “$40,000 to $50,000 (includes housing, insurance, benefits).” The sentence, “A loving, passionate and spirit-filled individual who feels called to serve God as a minister for all age groups,” is probably the only line you will find in there that can be derived from scripture. But aren’t we all suppose to be loving? passionate? spirit-filled? Aren’t we all called to minister to all age groups? If so, why aren’t all the members being paid?

Some questions I thought of when reading this listing: Couldn’t a few people do these jobs for free? Do these jobs need to be done or are they luxury? What could we do with 40,000$ – 50,000$ every year in the community?

What do you think? Is paying a salary for a fulltime position a luxury that the church should forsake?

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What happens when you put two taboo subjects together and discuss their relationship with each other? Find out by following the links to this month’s SynchroBlog. Money and Church is the topic. Do you think they belong together? or is it a problem when they meet? Follow the links, and watch the fur fly!

Here’s who’s in so far:

The Check That Controls at Igneous Quill
Pushing The Camel: Why there might be more rich people in Heaven than in your local Church at Fernando’s desk
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz at Hello Said Jenelle
Zaque at Johnny Beloved
Walking with the Camels at Calacirian
Greed and Bitterness: Why Nobody’s Got it Right About Money and The Church at Phil Wyman’s Square No More
Wealth Amidst Powers at Theocity
Money and the Church: A Fulltime Story at The Life of Lew Ayotte
But I Gave at Church at The Assembling of the Church
Moving Out of Jesus Neighborhood at Be the Revolution
Money and the Church: why the big fuss? at Mike’s Musings
Coffee Hour Morality at One Hand Clapping
Bling Bling in the Holy of Holies at In Reba’s World
Magazinial Outreach at Decompressing Faith
Money’s too tight to mention at Out of the Cocoon
Bullshit at The Agent B Files
The Bourgeois Elephant in the Missional/Emergent Living Room at Headspace
When the Church Gives at Payneful Memories
Who, or What, Do You Worship at at Charis Shalom
Greed at Hollow Again
Silver and Gold Have We – Oops! at Subversive Influence
The Church and Money at Khanya

Comments

  1. Lew,

    This was a question that my husband and I struggled with for quite some time while he was a paid pastor. Because we were a small church, a large percentage of the weekly offerings went to his salary. That really bothered him.

    He, too, began to believe that it was better if more people shared the responsibility together – for free. For him, being paid robbed him of the joy of serving people because helping was now his job and not a free gift that he could give. He also felt that by giving him a salary, people on tight budgets were restricted from being able to give financially to other people and places.

    He is no longer a paid pastor, and while it’s been a little difficult vocationally, we haven’t regretted the decision.

  2. Would you call it a luxury if a person did all those things at the local community center or would you just call it a job? The wage would still be covered by public donation, they would still be doing it out of a desire to spend the majority of their time serving others, but would it get the stamp of approval if it wasn’t associated with church? What exactly makes it wrong for a person to hold that job within a church as compared to without?

  3. rob horton says:

    lew,

    i enjoyed the post. i think it is time to really rethink what it takes to encourage people to come into a teacher-apprentice relationship with Jesus. so much of what we have inherited, and might think is necessarry, can likely be discarded.

    the whole “biblical” thing makes me kind of whoozy these days. i am tired of the “what is more biblical” conversations – i wonder if that is what God intend for these writings in the first place.

    blessings,
    rob

  4. Mary

    Thanks for the comment and the short testimony. I am glad that you and your husband went into that direction and that things seem to be going well for you. I know it can be very hard to make such a transition. I personally have not had to make such a transition but have read others who are on the journey and am always very prayerful that they would remain encouraged as they try to best live according to their convictions.

    Julie

    Great comment, you have asked some very important questions. I obviously should not be hypocritical when it comes to these matters. Luckily, I sense that I am not being hypocritical, rather, I just have not been as percise in my writing as I could/should have been. First, let me deal with your first question; you asked, “Would you call it a luxury if a person did all those things at the local community center or would you just call it a job?”

    To clarify my position, the “luxury” is not the pay a person is receiving for doing the work. The “luxury” is the service the people are receiving for paying a person to do the work. This works in a couple ways. First, I pay someone to do visitation, therefore I have fulfilled my obligation to visit the sick, poor, etc. Second, I pay someone to do visitation, therefore I can expect that person to visit me while I am sick, poor, etc. There are other similar examples regarding the studying/teaching aspects, etc.

    There is also a major difference between paying someone to do a job as “community work” in a non-church environment and paying someone to do a job as “community work” and calling that job a “pastor.” As I said in my post, if you want to pay someone to do this work, than fine, but that job is not a “pastor.”

    You asked, “would it get the stamp of approval if it wasn’t associated with church?” This is a little bit harder of a question to deal with. If I am supporting a local charity, for the sake of other people – that I can see no harm in that. But if I am supporting a local charity for my benefit, than I think I have a serious heart issue.

    You asked, “What exactly makes it wrong for a person to hold that job within a church as compared to without?” I think you will be hard pressed to get me to say it is “wrong” for a person to hold such a job. I just do not think it is best. For some of the reasons I have already stated and other more secondary reasons.

    I hope this helps clarify my position. If not, then I encourage you to reply with more questions and comments.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Rob

    Thank you for the comments. You are absolutely right, we do need to rethink what it takes. That is probably the hardest thing to do. It is easy for me to sit in my ivory tower and talk about what is wrong… but it is very hard to think of solutions. Of course, I think the best solution is to just let the chips fall where they may. Doing this will force us to trust God and allow him to work best in our lives (in my opinion).

    If I understand you correctly, I agree, the “biblical” thing can make me a little whoozy too. I have a difficulty time getting away from that mindset – even in light of my position on the Bible. I guess it is Christianese for me…

    Thanks again everyone for commentings.

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

  5. Speaking as a part-time employed Community Church Worker, I would say that there are good and bad points for full time paid ministers.
    There can be an effect of de-skilling the laity, so if someone is acting in the capacity that you mentioned he nneds to negotiate proprer hours and the church needs to review what it expects.
    Having said that time for study and prep is important and should not rob time from family life….
    It is a question with no concrete answers and needs to be taken situation by situation.

  6. NotesbyNewsome says:

    I think sometimes the paid church position has more to do with the world and less to do with the church. For example, a man in my Dad’s office was a volunteer youth pastor. He was told during an office meeting that he was to only have one “job” even though he was not being paid for the church position. Many times “the world” expects total loyalty to your “job”. What do you do when your job demands you cut out parts of your ministry? Often you drop part of your ministry because your income is contigent on your job. Paying ministers for their work ensures that they will not run into that dilemma, and that they will be able to solely focus on ministry without sacrificing themselves to a “job”. Wouldn’t it be extremely taxing for us to expect our ministers to volunteer full-time, work full-time, and also spend adequate time with their wife/children/family?

    ~Michelle

  7. Michelle,

    That is quite the dilemma. There are a few things that are going on here that could cause a problem. First, if my employer was trying to force me to stop doing something I felt God was telling me to do, well I would trust God and try to find a solution with my employer or find new employment. I know this is easy to say from the safety of a blog. But I think we both believe that God can handle those situations.

    There are more pieces to the puzzle though. For instance, most youth pastors I know do ALOT of work. It really is a “job.” But the question is, does it have to be? Can your father’s friend still minister to youth without doing the work of a youth pastor? From what I have witnessed many staff positions in a traditional church have a lot of “work.” But this work can also get in the way of actually ministering to youth.

    I agree, it would be “extremely taxing for us to expect our ministers to volunteer full-time, work full-time, and also spend adequate time with their wife/children/family.” But let us consider these ideas. They are not “our” ministers… in fact, we are all ministers according to scripture. We should never expect anyone to work full-time for us… but we should all be working towards the same goals of discipleship, edification, etc.

    I am not claiming to have all the answers. These are just some thoughts I have concerning this particular scenario (which I know little about). I think, ultimately, your father’s friend could probably fulfill his calling to minister to youth and maintain his secular job security.

    You have brought up some very interesting things that I will continue to think through. Hopefully others who have more experience with this scenario will chime in. Until then, I hope what I wrote gives you some ideas to think about.

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

    P.S. Forgive the rambling, it’s almost time for bed :).

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