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THE CHRISTIAN WORK ETHIC NEWSLETTER
 November  2005

William Shakespeare once said, "All the world is a stage and the people are merely actors".   To a great degree, this truth applies to workers because when you are working, you are performing and your audience consists of your boss, your clients, and all others who are observing your performance on the job.

Nowhere is this truth more prevalent than in the church where the pastor, associate pastor, youth director, music director, and others receive compensation for their services as an employee of the church.

Since I started Worker Ministries, I have had contacts with many such workers in many churches.  Thank God that most of these individuals are hard working, dedicated leaders who KNOW they have been called by God for a full time ministry in the church and they have no hidden agendas.  They are there to serve the Lord by serving others inside and outside the church and that’s it!

On the other hand, there are also many full time church workers who do have hidden agendas and have never given up the SELF in order to TRULY serve others.  They constantly seek ways to benefit themselves and/or selected friends or family members.   Some look upon their job as an easy way to pick up a paycheck without really doing a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.  How sad!

To make matters worse, some try to acquire power and try to use that power to get their selfish way without any concern about possibly splitting the church.  This is especially true of those who are from the family of another full time worker who has previously served that church for a long time such as a pastor.

These church employees often have a mind set which says, "The church should function exactly like it has in the past."  They put up heavy resistance to any changes.  In effect, they try to block any progress which might otherwise be made and which could adversely affect the future direction of the church ministry.

They also make life difficult for a new pastor and this is a major reason why so many pastors suffer from stress and burnout early in their ministry!

My message in this newsletter is direct and to the point:  If you are a full time employee of a church, regardless of your position or who you are, you are an EMPLOYEE of the church and you report to those in authority who have been elected by THE  CONGREGATION!  

It should be understood that the congregation is represented by an elected board of directors or board of deacons which helps to formulate the policies that guide the church including what is expected of workers who report to them. While I hesitate to compare the church to a business, I must say that the organizational relationship is similar in many ways.

For those full time church workers who elect to continue to be selfish and who are power hungry, I have one message for you:  Change your way of living OR  PLEASE leave before you inflict damage to God's temple!  

For those who would dare use the sanctuary to ever disrupt a service and take that opportunity to assassinate the character of others and spew their venom toward others, PLEASE leave!  There is no place for this kind of unethical behavior in the House of the Lord!

The church is a place for reverence and worship – not merely a stage for acting out one’s selfish behavior before others!   That is a lesson which I learned from my Grandmother when I sometimes wanted to misbehave in the service.  If this lesson was good for me, it is also good for those adults who want to display childlike temper tantrums in God's House!

And, to the board of directors/deacons of churches, I have one message for you:   You are responsible for assuring that the church staff functions according to the job requirements which should have been clearly defined in writing when the staff member was hired!    There should be NO exceptions!

When results are less than satisfactory, you have the full right to counsel with any individual concerned whether it is the pastor, music director, education director, or any other employee who is paid by the church!  If you do not exercise this right and you engage in protecting certain individuals, you are not promoting the Christian work ethic inside the church and you are asking for TROUBLE, TROUBLE, TROUBLE!

Regardless of the strong talents and abilities of any worker in the church, no worker has a right to try to use this to hold the board of directors/deacons hostage by threatening to leave and cause a split in the congregation.

I personally have reservations about employing anyone in a church who is a relative of any employee of the church or who is a relative of any deacon or board member.  In some cases, it may have worked well.  Regretfully, this practice has caused numerous personnel problems often resulting in church splits.  The board of deacons/directors of any church needs to take a close look at the pros and cons of this and if you should decide to add a bylaw which prohibits such employment, I will GUARANTEE you that it will eliminate any such potential problems in the future.

I also have a special message for employees who work in the church office. In my personal contacts with churches, I have discovered to my surprise many secretaries or administrative assistants who do not project a favorable image to the public when engaging in a telephone conversation.  In one case, a minister whom I had called hung the phone up just as soon as I greeted him and identified myself.  How sad and how pathetic!

Many of these same individuals are those who stand up in the sanctuary on Sunday Morning to praise the Lord.  Yet, on Monday, they sound like they have been sentenced to hell just because the telephone rang.

In conclusion, any full time church worker who does not practice the Christian work ethic or who uses the church for his or her own personal benefit conveys a terrible message to those outside the church including the unsaved:

Why should I ever enter your church when YOU are living in a way that is exactly like the rest of the world?

That is a terrible message to deliver to a lost world!
Very truly yours,

Jim Hogsett, President/Founder; Worker Ministries and Writer for Guideposts Magazine