I’m one of the elders among our church. (You can use the term “pastor” if you prefer it. We don’t have a separate group of pastors and elders.) However, I’m not employed by the church. None of our elders are employed by the church. In fact, we don’t pay any kind of staff at all.
The absence of the employee/employer relationship simplifies and clarifies many relational aspects of the church. For example, one of our elders works in construction. His hours were cut back drastically, so he started looking for a new job. He did not have to hide this from the church. Instead, he was able to share this issue with the church, and we were able to pray for him and encourage him and his family during this time.
A couple of weeks ago, he was offered a new job. This job is in South Carolina. Now, this happens all the time among churches. Elders/pastors get new jobs all the time. They quit their job at one church and are hired by another church. Often, they even move from one state to another state when this happens. But, the employee/employer relationship makes this change much more difficult.
In our elder’s case, we are sad that he and his family are going to be moving (and we are already making plans to visit them). But, there are no difficulties caused by the employment issue. We knew this was coming, and we were praying that God would provide a job for him. We rejoice with this family that God provided the job. We are not disappointed about the job at all. (Although, like I said, we are sad that we will not be able to spend as much time with them.)
Similarly, everyone who is part of our church knows that I’m looking for a teaching position. They know that if God answers this request, it will probably mean that we move out of the area. (Of course, we’re open to other possibilities also.) The church is actually praying that God would answer my request (one way or the other).
Could you imagine a salaried pastor telling a church that he is looking for another job? Or could you imagine him asking the church to pray that God would provide another job? (Yes, I know it happens occasionally. But, generally, the employee/employer relationship hinders this.)
I’m glad that my relationship with others in the church is not hindered or distracted by the employment issue.
(And, yes, I realize that having multiple elders increases the ease of asking the church to pray for a new job that may require one of the elders to move. It’s not all because of the lack of the employee/employer relationship. But that is part of it.)