Thursday, September 29, 2005

Do We Get Paid?

More from Earl & the AG Pastors:

oh yeah, and don’t charge me for truth, hope, and love.
(would you charge your mother for your latest sermon series?)
let’s share information because we are the same family.
stop trying to profit in the name of Jesus.

This one gets a little sticky. Like some of the other statements, I think there is an element of truth, but not necessarily a black and white conclusion.

At what point does ministry become vocation?
Where does professional ministry fit in if we hope to eliminate the clergy/laity model?

At what point does our missional living become worthy of financial support?
What about conferences, speaker fees, and books?

Can we ever expect to be compensated for our time and expense in ministering the gospel?
If we do, does our dependence on the finances affect us and our ministry?

No answers, only questions.
The questions themselves seem like a minefield in our existing models of church, ministry, and missions.


Cindy said...

Grace, you've hit another intense subject! We've been honestly trying to work through this one for a while. Keith and I are volunteer music leaders for one of our church's 2 services. After a few months on the "job" it dawned on us that we're putting in more time than the paid staff for the other service. That's okay. We signed up as volunteers and we'd do it again in a heartbeat. Lots of people sacrifice huge amounts of time in voluntary service and never think twice about it.

But then, there are times when we're really tired. When our little girl is tired, and we still have to leave home very early on Sun. mornings. She almost always eats her breakfast at church while we set up. After church we both teach Sunday school. Then all manner of church folk get mad at us for not staying around for a fellowship lunch and some program at 12- when we've been there for 4 1/2 hours already and our 5 year old is getting really cranky! Those are the times we remember that the other music staff gets paid.

And then, throw in that other churches are beginning to ask us to come more frequently, and would like it to be a regular thing-- and they do always pay us, though we've never asked for compensation.

I wish I could say that the money never crosses my mind. The truth is that it does. And my husband lost his job last week. Reality is, we're thinking about money right now.

grace said...

Cindy, I'm so sorry to hear about your husband's job. I hope he is able to find something else soon.

It seems that sometimes the "bosses" at church forget that the rest of us are volunteers.

I am glad you are appreciated at the other churches.

I'll be praying for your husband's job situation.

Pam Hogeweide said...

Yes, it really is easy to fill up the schedule with volunteering. Every church has needs, and it has been my personal experience that most leaders will not consider how overspent you already are. I understand that, I'm not whining about leaders - they have a task that needs to get done and they look for reliable people to get it done. It really is up to us to decide how much to serve(volunteer) and to not be overwhelmed by the need. There will always, always, always be more need than volunteers. If I said Yes to everything I was approached for this past year I could easily fill my week up with 10-20 hours of helping out. One Sunday, earlier this year, between my husband and I we had a combined total of 13 hours of assigned service on one Sunday. And yeah, that's our day off from our regular jobs. But it's our choice, too, to decide what to do with our time. (On that particular Sunday I opted out of two things - it was a rare occassion when our commitments overlapped)

As for money for preaching and what not, of course people need to get paid. I'm friends with pastors and their families and I appreciate their calling and gifting. It is good to see that they and their families are cared for. I'm happy to help contribute toward that. What is bothersome is the high speaker fees I hear rumors of and the overpriced conferences. I recently received in my mailbox a glossy booklet outlining the approaching conferences in a big. The speakers are part of that church; the church itself is hosting the conference; cost per person? Over $200, for almost three days. What? How can it be that much? It smacks of profiteering, maybe I'm wrong, I don't know them or their financial situation. I can only throw it away in the garbage and say, I don't think so.

I'm no against conferences. I think big gatherings of like-minded people to hear inspiring messages and enjoy God together is a good thing. I usually go to one conference a year, here in Portland - I pay about $60 (early bird rate) for three days, about 5 differrent speakers including people from overseas.

It's interesting to me that conferences range in price so greatly, with some being free, taking up an offering, and others charging over $200 a head. I wonder if it's the speakers fees that make up the difference???

I don't know. It's perplexing. If anyone knows of a good, solid informative article on the Christian conference scene and the overpricing I'd love to know about it. I have yet to find a decent article that gives an informative picture of how much money we are spending on conferences and who is profiting from it.

Cindy said...

Thanks, Grace. It's a strange time for us. We're very blessed in that we have a few months of leeway due to a parting agreement that's in the works (lots of legalese involved). We're trying to take this time to listen carefully before jumping ahead of- or away from- God's plans. In the meantime, it's really great to have someone to bring in the groceries when I get home from the store.

grace said...

Cindy, I hope God leads you and your hubby into something wonderful.

Cindy said...

Here's an update to our confusing times. Sunday night we did a service at another church- the second time there. We've already committed to once every other month there. They're kind people, the pastor is a old friend, and they're genuinely trying to offer something new in their small community with this new service. Yesterday our friend sent an email saying that he'd received several calls asking if we could be there every Sunday night.

We haven't replied yet. Just letting it sit to see what comes of it. With all the blog talk these days about paid staff- including on my blog--(yikes) I thought I'd throw this our here for input. I feel a little safer here on your blog than mine, Grace. I don't really want input on this from everyone who visits my blog! But, as we pray about it, I'd like your input, and those of your blog readers. btw- we don't have any regular committments at our church on Sunday nights. I'm sure that at some point there would be some scehduling conflicts.

grace said...

When you are working within a system that pays staff, you might as well get paid too. My thoughts have been more along the lines of changing things from the top down, not necessarily cutting pay in the existing system.

My personal thoughts are that if this is something that works for your family at this time and you want to do it, then go for it, the determining factor being you and your husband agreeing about it.

This is kind of lost down here in the comments, so I'm not sure you'll get much input on it.