I’ve invited several people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.
(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)
(By the way, this guest post may read a little different than some of the other ones. This post is a series of questions by me, and answers from Doug. Doug gave me permission to post the conversation here.)
[I asked, “How does your church (Connection) handle paying pastors?”]
You asked me about Connections and our view of “paid staff.”
Here’s our thinking in the most general of terms.
Connections did not hire me, nor do I work for them. They support me – one who was among them for a few years before there was a Connections. They do this in order that I might be free to dedicate my time to the word, prayer, and the equipping of those who call Connections their place of assembly. I am not above or below them, and they know this. The people of Connections have no by-laws in place that I am to adhere to. In agreement, they see me as one who has been sent by God to lead them from the religious institution to a place of freedom and ministry. The other elders that God has placed in this local body recognize this as well. We do not think in terms of salary but rather support. We recognize what God is doing among us and give to support it. (“It” being in this case me.) And since we find no prohibition in Scriptures, we set one person aside to lead. Alan, I am not paid to grow the church, and there are no expectations that I do so. Frankly, we don’t subscribe to that philosophy. We are more concerned with the care of one another and those outside of ourselves.
Simply put, they see the advantage of freeing me to devote myself to the work and to this vision that God has seemed to have placed within me of demonstrating to Southwest Georgia that Jesus is not what religion has made Him out to be. Further, because I am supported by the people of Connections, I am free to meet with them one-on-one and in small groups at all times of day. Receiving support affords me a greater opportunity to help them mature until they are doing the work of the ministry. I do not trade services for money and have no committee to answer too. I am but one elder in this body. I am neither the head elder nor the highest authority – I am but one gift.
I would never leave Connections – it doesn’t work that way. Connections is far removed from that type of religious mindset. I will always be connected here in some fashion but may not always receive support from Connections – or at least not to the degree I now enjoy. If that time should come, we, the elders of this body, would discern His will and make the necessary adjustments. Money would have nothing to do with our decision.
[I asked, “How do you receive this support?”]
We are a hybrid type church. We are a tax free organization and the people of Connections give to it like they are used to. We have overhead – wish we didn’t but we do. We have a CFO who collects the money by way of a weekly offering. She pays the bills, meets the needs of those within, and writes me a check.
[I asked, “What would you do if they no longer wrote you a check? What if the people decided to use that money in other ways?”]
The people of Connections trust the elders of the body. They would make the decision so to speak. To answer your question, money changes nothing. If the people thought that I should get a job… I would rejoice that they see that the clergy/laity tradition for what it is. More directly, I would still be the pastor and find other support… A job for example.
[I asked, “How do you help people understand that they are also responsible for serving others and that they can’t leave that to you?” Doug gave me the following as a short answer.]
I first started teaching Connections that they are in fact the house of God. That’s where we began. I challenged them to take that truth to it’s end. As we looked at that subject for weeks, we/they began to understand that they are the very “place of ministry” that they once assumed was found in the church building and it’s leaders.
We went from there…2 years later we are just now getting to Matthew 28:18-20. I always dared to allow the word to challenged them. I would ask question and insisted they answered.
As with all of the other guest bloggers who have written posts for me so far, I am greatly appreciative of Doug allowing me to include his thoughts on my blog. If he is able, I’m sure that Doug would be glad to answer your questions. Feel free to leave questions in the comments.