Thursday, April 21, 2011

Employees of the church

Alan Knox wrote an interesting post today on how elders not being an employee of the church changes the relationship between believers, When elders/pastors don’t have to act like employees. Alan is an elder but he might need to take employment somewhere else…

Similarly, everyone who is part of our church knows that I’m looking for a teaching position. They know that if God answers this request, it will probably mean that we move out of the area. (Of course, we’re open to other possibilities also.) The church is actually praying that God would answer my request (one way or the other).

Could you imagine a salaried pastor telling a church that he is looking for another job? Or could you imagine him asking the church to pray that God would provide another job? (Yes, I know it happens occasionally. But, generally, the employee/employer relationship hinders this.)

I’m glad that my relationship with others in the church is not hindered or distracted by the employment issue.
So Alan is open with his local church family and they are able to pray for him to get a teaching position even though that likely means he would need to leave that church family and move somewhere else. Compare that with how most pastors/vocational elders look for new churches. It is often done in secrecy (not always of course) and without the knowledge, support or prayer of their current church family. Just as I didn’t tell my last employer I was looking for a new job because it would hurt my employee/employer relationship, many pastors feel unable to talk with their church family because they are not just his church family, they are also his employer.

When we add the dynamic of money and employment into the church family relationship, it necessarily has a negative impact. It is impossible to relate to one another as “brother” and “sister” when some of the “brothers” are employees of other “brothers and sisters”. When we take that away, we are able to care for and pray for one another as family. Isn’t that how it should be?

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