Last year, our Association Committee (of Elders) discussed a concern that we may not be paying our staff sufficiently.
In the past we effectively operated like a small business – paying our staff what we could manage, which wasn’t much, but they managed because they wanted to allow the church to get started. Not only is this not a good model to sustain, but as our church has increased in size, we have had to consider a more appropriate, and more sustainable, model for staff salaries.
So over the past few years we look at what is appropriate now that we are a larger church and that our staff have much more responsibility. We’ve also had to consider how we compare with other churches, not just so we know we are being fair to our staff, but also for when we need to recruit new staff – we need to be paying enough that potential staff members can actually afford to work for us.
However, we also need to be careful that we’re not overpaying staff, as there are potential problems there as well. For example,
- New Staff could be attracted for the wrong reasons – for the money rather than the job itself
- Higher incomes means it would be harder to employ more people
- And of course, it could develop a love of money (in the staff or in the congregation) that can take our eyes off Jesus.
Therefore, it was important that we try to get it right! So… more tomorrow.
Paul’s instruction to Timothy; “appoint elders in every town”… do we do that any more – or was it just an early church thing?
Think about those early churches; Paul went and preached in a town, the gospel spread and fellowships of believers began to gather together. Paul saw a theologically based need for those fellowships to have leaders – theological leaders – put in place. The churches had none… so Paul needed to appoint one.
That doesn’t really happen that much does it? Sure, some churches might loose their senior pastor; but even then, there’s some sort of eldership body in place.
But this does still happen. Whenever someone joins a church, they re-appoint the elders – in their heart. They are joining a fellowship of people who are already under the authority of their pastor/elders/staff.
And you can’t separate the two; you can’t join the fellowship without considering the appointed pastor/staff/elders as your pastor/staff/elders.
So do you do it? Do you help new people to your church (who are Christians) to appoint the leaders as their “elders”? Do you help them get what that means?
My guess is that if you don’t help that happen, there’s a good chance it won’t.
This is just one of the principles we made clear from the start with our staff. Staff don’t take gifts from the congregation.
There’s OK gifts like “let me buy you a coffee” or “It’s your birthday”… they are common gifts for people to give one another, regardless of position or authority.
It’s more about those gifts that are given in response to someone “being the pastor”. Things like, “I just wanted to say thanks for everything you’ve done”, or “I thought this would be really helpful to your future ministry”.
There’s a few reasons why:
- It’s unlawful (unless your declare the value of the gift when you do your tax).
- People’s hearts are very deceitful. They may not intend to, but the day may come when they think they have some right over you because they gave you this gift.
- Your heart is very deceitful. You may think it impossible, but the day may come when you give them special treatment because of the gift you were given.
- If they think that item is “valuable to your ministry” they should speak to your board/elders/etc. Otherwise, they are taking a gift that is meant “for the church” and rather than trusting God’s appointed leaders, they’re taking on themselves what should happen with that money/gift.
There is, however, scope for your board/elders/etc to approve gifts and things… that way there are other people who can keep you accountable in how you treat that person.
Churches have various groups within them, and you could call each of these groups a little church. But that’s not what we’re talking about. That’s not dual church membership.
If you are part of a Growth Group, that Growth Group and especially its leaders are part of a congregation/campus, and those congregations are part of the church which the Holy Spirit makes certain men/elders responsible for. The group of 10-15 you meet with are not an independent group. The leaders have been “appointed” by the church eldership. When you submit to your group leaders, its an expression of submission to the elders who appointed them.
And refusing to submit to your group leaders is an expression of refusing to submit to your elders/pastors.
So if you’re in one churches’ small group, but you go to another church on Sunday… which elders are you submitting to? Both? or Neither?
So why isn’t there anything in the bible about dual church membership?
Well most of the churches were made up of the ONLY Christians in that area. There was THE church in Ephesus, THE church in Corinth, etc. They didn’t have multiple churches in these cities, they had one group of people, one group of elders… even if they did meet in separate homes… they had one group of common leaders.
Why is this important?
This is important because it defines the normal. It’s the normal Christian way to be part of a local church; to have leaders that you sit under their teaching; to have a fellowship you love and serve. That’s how Jesus has designed his people to live together.
If you have Jesus as your lord, you’re designed to be part of a fellowship.
So, can you be part of two of those fellowships? Does that even happen in the New Testament?