Repost: Try not to confuse your relationship ‘hats’

Some people you know on only one level; the local barista, a taxi driver, the policeman pulling you over for speeding. Its a pretty simple relationship, because you’re the driver and he’s the cop.

But what if the cop who pulls you over is a guy from your soccer team? Or your barista is a member of your church? Or your taxi driver is the husband of the couple you’re doing marriage counselling with?

In those situations, you have to be clear about what “relationship hat” you’re wearing… you’re not wearing the soccer team mate relationship hat, you’re wearing the driver/officer hat.

You can really stuff up a relationship when you try to wear two hats at the same time; “So officer, remember how we won the final together!?” doesn’t work.

I think this is really helpful in church staff teams, where we’re all close and good friends in Christ. Sometimes we need to say things to each other on the basis that we’re “Christian brothers” only. Other times we need to say it on the basis that we’re “employees” only.

This also plays out in share houses. Flat mates need to get used to saying things like, “Hey, I need to have a conversation with you, not as a friend, but as a flat mate.”

The people in the meeting define the purpose, not just the person calling the meeting

This may seem the wrong way around, and to some extent, it shouldn’t be this way. However, every time someone new joins a meeting, the purpose of the meeting changes slightly to accommodate their “needs”; whether felt needs or real needs.

Why? Because the people in the meeting are expecting to get something out of the meeting. Or they are expecting to contribute something to the meeting.

So, even though YOU might have a reason for calling your meeting, the people you call will bring their own expectations.

The point is, if having that person in the room is going to change the purpose of the meeting dramatically, better not to invite them in the first place. In the end, it’s your meeting.

How much should you pay church staff? #3

Looking at Church staff pay over the last few posts… basically a summary of what our Association Committee discussed and decided last year. In the last post we saw that staff salaries should be:

  • Comparable, according to the work they do
  • Provided by us – the church
  • Tending on the side of “more than they need” (rather than “less than they need”)

The next question is, what does it mean to be comparable?

We started by doing some research to look at salaries in our society that it might be useful to compare with. But this research took a few things into consideration…

  • Geographical location changes average income
    We collected values that related to Newcastle where available, but we also took NSW figures and some from Sydney, and adjusted them to take out biases associated with location and cost of living differences. (We did this by comparing the average income in Sydney to the Average income in Newcastle and applying that ratio to the Sydney incomes).
  • After-tax income NOT total Salary Income
    We worked out the equivalent After-tax income (when you include all the Ministry expenses, and allowances and tax breaks). this was important when comparing to secular salaries which had a larger package overall, but would have been taxed more and thus had less after-tax income. It’s just a way of comparing apples with apples.
  • The Average Income of the Newcastle Area
    We used the Census data to get a figure for the average After-Tax income of persons who are full-timer workers aged 25-55 from the Greater Newcastle Area. This was from 2011, so we guessed it up to what we thought it would have been in 2013.

With these issues taken into account, we started to look at what other churches and denominations pay, and what other “similar secular roles” pay was compared to the Newcastle Average…

  • Religious Sector:
    • An untrained Anglican Deacon (Novacastrian-adjusted)
      102% of Newcastle Av.
    • NSW Pressy Pastor
      113% of Newcastle Av.
    • Anglican Rector (Novacastrian-adjusted)
      130-150% of Newcastle Av.
  • Education Sector
    • Childcare (Novacastrian-adjusted)
      77% of Newcastle Av.
    • NSW Public School teacher – 1st year graduate (Novacastrian-adjusted)
      80% of Newcastle Av.
    • School Admin staff (Novacastrian-adjusted)
      103% of Newcastle Av.
    • NSW Public School teacher – 5 years expereince (Novacastrian-adjusted)
      110% of Newcastle Av.
    • NSW Public School Head teacher (Novacastrian-adjusted)
      124% of Newcastle Av.
    • Uni Lecturer (Novacastrian-adjusted)
      126% of Newcastle Av.
    • NSW Public School Deputy Principal (Novacastrian-adjusted)
      140% of Newcastle Av.
    • NSW Public School Principal of med/lrg school) (Novacastrian-adjusted)
      169% of Newcastle Av.
  • Other comparable sectors
    • Average Human Resources Salary
      97% of Newcastle Av.
    • Average Architect Salary
      97% of Newcastle Av.
    • Average Physio/OT/SpeachPath
      111% of Newcastle Av.
    • Average 1st yr Military Officer
      113% of Newcastle Av.
    • Average Accountant/Engineer
      120-130% of Newcastle Av.
    • Average Senior Manager
      170% of Newcastle Av.

We realised that we had been paying our senior staff about 107% of the Newcastle Av. We decided that our staff team needed a range of salaries (based on breadth and width of responsibilities) between 85% and 115% of the Newcastle Av. We’ve planned to roll this increase in incrementally over 3 years.

How much should you pay church staff? #2

When our Association Committee reviewed our staff salary packages, we asked the question, “How should staff pay compare to other salaries?”

When we looked to the Bible, we found a bunch of passages that gave us some good principles which we could apply to staff salaries. There are also some places where ministry staff pay is discussed directly. Looking at some of these, there are three main conclusions we established.

1. It’s a job, just like everyone else’s job

When Paul writes to Timothy he tells him that:

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

By Double Honour, he is referring to the honour of the position as well as financial remuneration. You can’t expect an ox to work without its food, and nor can we expect a HBC staff worker to go without fair pay. In fact, our staff are in a honourable position, which you’d think would typically attract an honourable pay packet. Some people might be tempted on occasion to think that Ministry Workers should be poor, or at the very least, shouldn’t get paid more than “me”. Perhaps this misconception comes from the fact that so many people volunteer for ministry work. But Paul pretty much slams that here, as does Jesus when he said it to the 72 disciples. Nowhere does Paul (or Jesus) say that the worker is worth a poor wage.

2. It’s up to the church family to generate the money to pay our staff

In Galatians, it’s made very clear:

the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

And it’s not out of obligation that we pay our staff, but out of love that we share all good things. We don’t hold back; we want others to have what we have. But what about those of us that don’t earn much? How can I be expected to give towards staff that earn more than I do? It’s important here to not confuse church with a charity. With charitable giving we give to people who earn less than us because they are in some way worse off than we are and we want to demonstrate compassion and justice. But church is not a charity – we give because we want to have people in our church who can teach us and lead us. Our staff are incredibly wise and skilful people – in most cases they have two or more degrees and bunch of other training. We give to them out of love and appreciation rather than pity or compassion.

3. We don’t want money to be a burden, because we want staff to love their jobs

And we can see the underlying principle here in Hebrews, where the writer tells them:

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

And Paul encourages the Thessalonians…

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

You might argue that we should just cover their needs. Some churches take that approach, and indeed Paul took that approach for himself. But it’s not a Biblical expectation for all churches. As Paul instructed Timothy earlier – the staff SHOULD be paid. And we see here in Hebrews and 1Thessalonians that we should be caring for our leaders and making sure they are not burdened, and of course financial pressure can be a massive burden, leading to:

  • Negative impact on spouse relationship
  • Impact staff kids’ view of the church
  • Resentment – “I’m busting a gut, but struggling to make ends meet for these people who (financially) don’t seem to care.”

To be free from burden means that our staff should not have to forego the many things that we enjoy. We could argue that they have the same ‘needs’ as you and I – including the need for safe and comfortable housing, family health care and education, recreation, and so on.

Therefore; staff salaries should be:

  • Comparable, according to the work they do
  • Provided by us – the church
  • Tending on the side of “more than they need” (rather than “less than they need”)

Tomorrow… What should they compare to?


How much should you pay church staff? #1

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.

How many staff should you have per person?

Israel had about 1 Levite per 11 other Israelites. But that’s not particularly helpful.
This is a difficult question to answer because really… Who knows!?! The best you can do is have what you think is an appropriate ratio. But that then raises the question… Not only do you need to define whether “staff” means pastoral or also includes admin staff, but even trickier… What defines a “person” that your doing the ratio to?
See, imagine a church that has 1 paid staff. They might have 50 adults on average each Sunday. That’s 1:50 ratio. But there’s also 20 kids… So that’s a ratio of 1:70. And then there’s 20 or so people who come along irregularly. So that’s 1:90.
Sounds like good value, right? Wrong. A church’s goal shouldn’t be to get good value out of their staff – as if they are a 1900s factory worker you need to squeeze the most productivity from. You don’t want lazy staff, but that attitude is part of the reason why pastors burn out. Their church expects them to take responsibility for 90 people, and then reach the 10,000 other people in their suburb! That’s a ratio of 1:10090.
Rather than, “How many people can we spread our staff across?”, the better question should be, “How many staff can we get for all the lost people in our city?!”

How we arrived at the Purposes Model

After recently attending the very encouraging Nexus Conference I thought it’d be helpful to outline how we arrived at the Purposes Model.

  1. Back in 2008, we had 3 congregations and 1 more about to kick off. We had a Senior Pastor (Greg Lee) and we had a Staff member for each of the 4 congregations – I was the UniChurch pastor. We also had a Women’s Pastor and a part time kids pastor.
  2. We started to notice two areas of difference  between our congregations. First, there wasn’t an equal dispersion of pastors to flock.
    Unichurch had one staff to 150 people, PM had 1 staff to 60 people, AM had 1 staff to 80 people, the new congregation was going to have 1 staff to 30 people. Greg and Kelly (our women’s pastor) already had to spread themselves across all these people anyway.
  3. Second, we realised each of our congregations were doing well in some areas and poorly in others.
    1. So Unichurch had a pretty good meeting, but it didn’t welcome very well, nor did it have enough groups and there was no leadership development, nor a real heart for evangelism.
    2. AM was welcoming, but the meeting was awkward and there was no evangelism and groups were haphazzard.
    3. PM was really getting into evangelism, but it’s meeting was awkward, groups were struggling and welcoming was hit and miss.
    4. The new congregation were all in groups that were working well, but the meeting/mission/etc. were going to struggle.
  4. That’s when we heard about the Purpose model (from Andrew Heard at EV Church). We realised that the aspects of church that were going well vs going poorly were simply because our staff had particular “bents” towards helping people grow in those purposes.
    1. Richard (new cong.)  had a natural bent towards helping people just get the bible, and lead a group and grow in knowledge and obedience.
    2. Sam (PM) had a natural bent towards helping Christians WANT to be evangelists.
    3. Dave (AM) had a natural bent towards getting beside people, helping them into church and investing in one another as members of a body.
    4. I had a natural bent towards challenging people about their deepest love and purpose in life.
  5. So, rather than having congregations that just reflect their Pastor’s strengths and weaknesses, we decided (after a long period of prayerful thinking and reflecting on God’s word) to free up our staff to do for everyone what they were only doing for one congregation. This also meant that we each stopped being responsible for aspects of our congregations that we weren’t particularly gifted in doing.
    1. Richard took on Maturity (encouraging people into small groups, raising up leaders and helping those groups build one another up in love from God’s word).
    2. Sam took on Mission (encouraging people to see themselves as missionaries to Newcastle, facilitating events where people can be confident the gospel will be presented and where they gain confidence in their own evangelism)
    3. Dave took on Membership (helping people to join well and participate in church life of loving one another and church).
    4. I took on Magnification (helping people live their whole lives in awe of the gospel 24/7, especially through running Sunday meetings that tried to impact their whole week).
    5. (Kelly moved to under Richard in Maturity – just focusing on raising and equipping and helping Growth Groups).
    6. (Richard also wore the Ministry hat – helping people get equipped and find their way into serving with church).
  6. After 2 years, we found a guy at Church (Pete Witt) who was already helping me do Magnification 1 day a week. We put him on 4 days a week to replace me, and I started looking after Ministry (as Richard had too much to do in Maturity). We also re-titled my role to Executive Pastor, simply because I was finding myself taking on a whole heap of pastoral responsibilities that were the foundation of the Ms structure; facilities, database, planning, association, legal. (I’ll write a later post on why this is Executive Pastor stuff and not General Manager stuff).

We’ve made heaps of mistakes along the way, and spent 6 years refining what we’re doing… with loads of really healthy arguments along the way. If there’s one huge positive that came out of going to Team Pastoring around the Ms it is that our team is really tight and loves one another in the midst of the fight.

And God’s been amazingly gracious and allowed us to grow in size and grow people’s faith.