Breaking Babel #01017865
*Originally I was going to address the idea of paying staff and how much we pay people, but I was hashing out the thought, I realized that “staff” in general could be the issue.
Here is a thought: If our churches were preaching the Gospel and we had disciples that were actually aware of what God did, does, and calls us to do, WE WOULDN’T NEED STAFF.
Church staffs are paid to serve (which that in itself seems to undercut the whole “service” aspect). That to me really isn’t going to produce more servant-hearted people, but rather it creates employees. I work on a staff at a church and I do believe that I’ve (at times) been a servant and I can definitely say that I have seen truly servant-hearted leaders on staff at my church and others. I’m not calling out the staffs of churches and the specific people that work at churches, but rather what the paradigm produces.
Here is a few outcomes that can be produced in this structure:
1. “We pay you to deal with the problems”. I’ve heard this exact phrase before and other times in more colorful ways. The thought is that, “because our tithe pays you, then our problems are yours and when others have problems, they are yours as well”. The experience feels like a congregation that points to those on staff instead of seeing that we are all the problem. This leaves a staff person to deal with their own sin and the sins of others as well.
2. “We have to pay someone to do this or it won’t get done”. If this is the case, then maybe God isn’t calling your congregation to do this. We pay people to give us gifts that maybe God isn’t giving. Have you thought of the implications of this? Maybe we are NOT doing God’s will because we are trying to pay someone to do something that God isn’t wanting for us. The outcome is more than just an absence of Fruit, but a path to destruction.
3. “I can’t do what they do”. This could be a very hard and complex outcome to understand, and at the same time, one of the most toxic for a congregation. The thoughts that come from seeing those on staff in action is that it creates an inferiority of the laity in their own calling. I was no different a few years back. I taught teenagers in a public school and knew that God was calling me to minister to youth, which meant I needed to get a youth director position. (or so I thought) It was only years later that I realized I could have had more impact in the schools than in a church.
4. “Nom Nom Nom christians” (or the consumeristic convert) I once heard you can’t be a consumeristic Disciple, that they are mutually exclusive. So what do a lot of church workers do but create programs, events, and worship where the participants don’t really have to participate. It isn’t a churches job to feed people (God does). This creates “stone throwers” instead of “feet washers”.
Our congregations are full of people that believe it’s the job of the staffs to pray for them and others. We expect those on church staffs to live out their calling and, at the same time, live out our own.
Questions that might help.
I. Would I treat those that led/served differently if they were not getting paid?
II. Are there programs/activities that wouldn’t happen if you didn’t pay someone? Are those losses hurting the Gospel or the consumeristic convert?
III.Am I depending on the Church to live out my calling? Am I lacking obedience because of the Church?
IV. Does my church staff move people from “milk to meat”? Do those that serve the Church edify you so that you don’t need them and help you see that you only need Christ?