Wednesday, June 20, 2012


A Question Worth Examining

Michael E. Brooks:
When it comes to finances the church has ample impetus to spend what it is given wisely. This means a steady diet of evangelistic and gospel specific spending is prime territory. Yet, when you look at most church budgets salaries for staff compose either a large minority or majority of financial resources. Now, the necessity of paying ministers a salary that provides for their needs and their families’ is a given. However, there are future pitfalls of this financial relationship, and new wrinkles that must be addressed.

The efficiency of allowing ministers to focus solely on ministry tasks is a valuable asset for churches. Yet, a minister’s sole reliance on the church’s financial resources creates issues. For instance, the minister lives under the reality of needing to retain and/or grow membership to retain and/or grow the amount of fiscal resources needed by the church. The majority in many situations goes toward salary and benefits. While numeric growth is desired, its necessity to meet salary obligations is a less than optimal motivation.
I wish Mr. Brooks had explored this issue further - these are important questions. And yet, there have been "full time staff" as long as there has been a church, Why do we need to revisit this issue?

I think the answer lies in a lack of a gate-keeping function for who gets to be staff. The issues Brooks raises are not issues for people of good character, but in the modern American church there is little to assure that such is the case. So many churches are fully independent and have no developed standards whatsoever. Denominational churches are increasingly using parliamentary "tricks" to hire staff outside the ordinational cycles which is not working that well to begin with. Seminaries, making money for every student are making it easier and easier to get in and get through - particular when it comes to moral requirements. And in general, staffs are burgeoning.

To my way of thinking a church of 400 needing more than a Pastor, an associate, and a secretary is just too much. IF they need more it is becasue they are not doing a proper job of building disciples that will contribute voluntarily to the life of the church. Worse yet, staff heavy churches reduce those that would volunteer to day labor instead of creative contributors.

It really is time to rethink the whole thing.

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