“Truth never damages a cause that is just.” ―
My church just had its semiannual budget meeting, which also discussed the hopes to hire an associate pastor and a DCE (Director of Christian Education-sort of equivalent to a youth pastor.) It dawned on me that I’m never hounded for money. The meeting went off without a hitch. The congregation was thanked for giving more than what was budgeted, and all questions were handled with kindness and openness. There was no infighting, and people seemed to agree. I realized that such meetings in other churches were not so friendly. The reason was simple in many of those cases. There was a lack of transparency, and this caused people to be suspicious ad concerned. Rightfully so.
Matt Chandler and the lack of transparency
When I think of Chandler, I immediately think of the “Weirdest Leave of Absence in Evangelical Lore.” He told some jokes with an anonymous gal pal and was put out for discipline for several months, during which he spent time in cabins and hunting. Here is a link to a series of posts in case you missed it.
The main issue (and still is) is the lack of transparency over what happened. I do not believe the dumbed-down reasons given to his church. That is why I was not surprised that Acts 29 is being accused by some churches of a lack of transparency over finances as well as some doctrinal and political issues.
What is Acts 29?
Dee’s quick take on this group is that it is one more group of theobros that agree on Reformed issues. It is not a denomination. However, for the sake of taxes, they have declared themselves a church. Many SBC churches are members, starting with Chandler’s Village Church. It claims to be one more “church planting” initiative. It is also another way to extract dollars from churches that have money to pay for the leadership and all sorts of expenses, all in the name of planting churches.
According to their website:
Acts 29 is a diverse, global community of healthy, multiplying churches characterized by theological clarity, cultural engagement, and missional innovation.
Theological clarity…given the problems in this crowd, clarity is not the first word that comes to mind. I have written many stories of churches that have pointed out the typical problems that one might expect from a group like this. Here is one. I have others. Replanting Countryside Acts 29 Style: A Personal Testimony.
Did I forget to mention that Mark Driscoll started this group? Imagine the DNA that is still present. In my opinion, Matt Chandler, who took over after Driscoll’s fall, is hardly an example of transparency. He’s a bit quieter than Driscoll but apparently tells lots of jokes (think of the reason given for the LOA) that might make Driscoll laugh.
Churches are leaving ACTS 29
I have been harping about the lack of financial transparency in the SBC. Maybe they should take a clue from what is happening in this group which is made up of a boatload of SBC churches. Kim Roberts of Ministry Watch just posted Churches Leaving Acts 29 Cite Issues with Financial and Organizational Transparency.
Roberts cited this blog post by Justin Buzzard: Why We Love and Left Acts 29. Buzzard is the pastor of Garden City Church and claims the church is “on mission” in Silicon Valley.
Here are some of the reasons he gave for leaving Acts 29; most seem to involve $$$$$$$.
1) Reversed Serving. Acts 29 used to have the culture of existing to serve its planters/pastors/churches. In my experience (I write this realizing a good number of you reading this from within Acts 29 have a different experience and perspective, which actually makes me happy and hopeful), Acts 29 has lost this. The culture and tone and communication of Acts 29 has become one where it feels like you, the pastor, exist only to serve the organization called Acts 29. Some years the only communication you receive from Acts 29 are form emails with your church ID number to triple check your church is giving the $ amount you pledged.
Tons of great jobs for the theobros
Pay attention to this one. The size of Acts 29 staff has grown tremendously. I bet there are some good-paying jobs for the theobros which means they need lots of money.
3) Better Stewardship of God’s Money/Acts 29’s Enormous Staff/Lack of Clarity About How Much of our Giving is Actually Going to Church Planting. Over the years Garden City Church has given over $200,000 to Acts 29. Much of that has been given gladly and we trust was stewarded well (and, note: we’ve never received a dollar from Acts 29). Like I said above, when we first joined the network it was fairly organic and had only one or two paid employees. I understand that as an organization grows, things change and staff need to be added. Today the staff seems to be 50 or more people.
Even more money is needed.
How much do they need from churches?
Freedom to Focus on Our Church’s Local Mission, Including Ways We Want to Broaden How We Give Away Money and Do Partnerships. Acts 29 requires churches to give 10% of their budget to church planting. We’ve done that for 11 years. This first got challenging for me a number of years ago when Acts 29 restructured, increased the required amount of that 10% that was to go to Acts 29, and starting taking $ that we would’ve given to Bay Area church plants
‘Constant Re-organization and Poor Communication Which is Mostly Top Down. Acts 29 has reorganized more times than I can count. Some of that is to be expected with a growing organization. But it’s been too much. It’s been dizzying. The re-orgs have been geographic (new ways of organizing regions), personnel-oriented (new Acts 29 Presidents and changes in staffing), and financial (changing how much giving the organization requires from a church, and how that money is to be utilized). Most of the communication is top down. Some of that makes sense, and is healthy. There’s no way Acts 29 could or should get the opinion of every pastor before making big decisions or strategy shifts, but they can do better than they’re currently doing. A couple times my roles within Acts 29 were impacted by seemingly sudden shifts and poor communication, and that didn’t feel good.
Acts 29 doesn’t seem to want to share its financials. Nope, nope nope.
Of course, they don’t. People in the churches might get mad. According to Ministry Watch:
(Jon Needham, lead pastor of Coram Deo, which is leaving according to Ministry Watch) said he asked Acts 29 Vice President Dave Bruskas for a copy of the organization’s budget and bylaws. Needham said he was told those were “in-house” documents only and that he could not see them.
…Buzzard didn’t ask Acts 29 for a copy of the budget, but said he knew of pastors who had and were refused.
…Buzzard said he doesn’t expect to see every line of the budget, but at least the main budget categories to understand where the money churches are giving to Acts 29 is going.
Acts 29 is a nonprofit tax-exempt charity under the Internal Revenue Service, but it does not file Form 990s with the IRS because it claims the church exemption.
Ministry Watch also asked to see the financials/budget, etc. A spokesman for Acts 29 said, “Nope.”
She said the group had recently completed an audit of our 2021 financials and will soon complete its 2022 financials. But she did not send a copy to MinistryWatch in response to our request and said they don’t currently share them publicly.
Needham has a question about the firing of an influential leader. But Howard, the current network president, said he was “too busy” to do so. I’m assuming that Chandler is still Chairman of the Board.
The leaders are just so terribly busy.
It looks like Bruskas’ job is to clean up the awkward questions or be the one not to answer questions. Needham cited the unexpected firing of Shaun Garman, another network leader serving churches on the west coast.
When Needham asked the network president Brian Howard about Garman’s firing, Needham said he replied, “We make employment decisions based on our mission, values, finances, and strategic plan and have every right to do so. I also have my hands full leading a huge organization that is in 50 countries and 30 languages so please reach out to Dave Bruskas who leads Acts 29 North America if you have future questions.”
Dave Bruskas is the North American head of Acts 29. Wasn’t he Mark Driscoll’s sidekick?
Bruskas used to be one of the three executive pastors for Mars Hill. He doesn’t talk about it much in his bio at Acts 29. Yes, I know he has “repented” for his actions during that time. However, I am concerned about Bruskas being involved in a ministry started by Driscoll. Given the lack of transparency in this group and the emphasis on money from the participating church, Bruskas is not a good look. Can’t he do something else like be a pastor in a small country church or run a group home for the homeless? I wonder what his salary is.
Let’s summarize the issues surrounding Acts 29
- Mark Driscoll formed the group, and the DNA
- Dave Bruskas is a significant player. How much is he paid?
- Matt Chandler is in charge. Does he get paid and how much?
- Churches are giving lots of money.
- How many churches give $200,000/year?
- Acts won’t release their financials, and won’t say how much their people are being paid..
- They lack transparency.
- How many people work for Acts 29 and how much are they paid?
- Churches are beginning to leave.
Why in the world are churches giving this group so much money and is it worth it? Prove it if you think it is.
A warning to the SBC
I believe the SBC is less than transparent about how they spend the money of the hard-working members of the SBC churches. Try to find out how much they spend on church plants or on the salaries of folks like those that run the North American Missions Board. What prevents SBC churches from leaving and setting up shop as nondenominational churches? Not much. The SBC should watch what is happening in Acts 29. Could it happen to them?
“Acts 29 is a diverse, global community of healthy, multiplying churches characterized by theological clarity, cultural engagement, and missional innovation.”
I just shake my head…….
“Truth never damages a cause that is just.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Like this quote.
Nonprofits spending money from donors should ALWAYS be transparent about how they spend the donors’ (working people, wage-earners’) money.
Or, shut down. End of story.
That’s my comment.
The lack of transparency troubles me. At my church, we use an outside accounting firm, and we are given periodic updates. Why can’t Acts 29 churches do the same? Dee, you have an excellent point, given all that you have written about the SBC. “What prevents SBC churches from leaving and setting up shop as nondenominational churches? Not much. The SBC should watch what is happening in Acts 29. Could it happen to them?” I don’t know when it will happen, but I predict a huge backlash against the SBC and other groups. The words from an old folk song often runs through my head–“When will they ever learn?”
I can’t be the only one who sees the hubris in Chandler’s name (acts 29) for his outfit since the Book of Acts only has 28 chapters.
Also, I can see letting them* keep their tax-free status so long as they are also required to disclose where all that moolah is going.
*and not just Chandler’s organization, the same should also apply to all religious entities who enjoy tax-free status.
My church no longer lists the pastor’s salary in its annual report of how funds are dispersed. I have wondered why the change. It lists what our missionaries receive.
As a side note (an admittedly rather large one), it appears that the pastor in the above mentioned article about Countryside Christian Church left this plane of existence in the spring of 2019:
“Jon Needham, lead pastor of Coram Deo, which is leaving according to Ministry Watch) said he asked Acts 29 Vice President Dave Bruskas for a copy of the organization’s budget and bylaws. Needham said he was told those were “in-house” documents only and that he could not see them.”
members aren’t allowed to see the bylaws??
In-house documents are not to be viewed by those relegated to the out-house.
We were part of an Acts 29 church. I’ll restrain myself and keep it to just one story.
Financial transparency didn’t come until the church nearly became insolvent. Not even the bookkeeper knew the budget. (I asked her because I’d been given a church credit card but didn’t know how much was ok to spend for office supplies.) Only the pastors/elders knew the budget.
They also knew what every single member of the church was tithing.
In September or October 2016, one week after a leadership retreat in which they’d set the budget for the coming year, only a few days after they announced they were hiring me (without having first asked me if I wanted to transition from volunteer to salaried employee, but that’s a story for another day), they announced an “emergency communication meeting.” I turned to my husband and said, “They’re financially insolvent.” Surprised, he said, “What do you mean?” I said, “It’s kinda obvious. Whenever they share giving and expenses information in announcements, expenses are always bigger than giving.”
Turned out the bookkeeper had called the senior pastor to tell him there wasn’t enough money in the checking account to pay both next month’s rent and next month’s salaries. Hence the need for the pastor to have an “emergency communication” with the congregation.
“This was not because of error or neglect on the part of leadership,” the pastor claimed. (So it was… on purpose?) He told people to tithe more. To even stop giving to para-church organizations in order to tithe more to the local church.
And it worked. Everyone my husband or I talked to was (a) surprised by the insolvency and (b) took it to heart and opened up their wallets. They saved the pastor’s butt and gave enough money to pay for salaries and rent for another month.
As part of the “give us more tithe” process, the pastor released the barest outline of a budget. And to anyone who has ever managed even a simple household budget, it was obvious where the gaps were. Their emergency fund was the same as their covering-for-the-annual-summer-shortful-in-giving fund was the same as their future-growth fund, for example.
The senior pastor took a job elsewhere in May or so 2019. The church closed in October 2020. I don’t doubt covid hurried it along, but this and a couple of other problems (features, not bugs, as HUG would say) meant that this outcome was hardly a surprise.
Sometimes churches will lump multiple salaries together as “pastoral salaries” or “staff salaries” or some such, to try and strike a balance between privacy for the pastor (and his/her family) and the right of the congregation to know how their money is being spent. Which only works so well if there’s only one paid staff member 🙂
But having nothing listed for salaries? That would be weird.
“Acts 29 is a diverse, global community of healthy, multiplying churches”
member churches (and the general public) may buy this description.
but since Acts 29 won’t answer questions from their members but instead keeps them in the dark, it’s entirely fair to suspect it is simply a cash cow that exists for itself to funnel contributions to fund generous salaries to those in the organization.
Sarah (aka Wild Honey),
Over the years, I’ve been a member of 4 different churches (one of them twice). I am a country girl, I’ve always live in a rural area, and the largest church of which I’ve ever been member averaged an attendance of about 200 on Sundays. All of those churches had monthly business meetings, during which every penny was accounted for…….. including pastor salary, health insurance, lawn care, travel expenses,……. upkeep and gas on church vans, loans, community outreach and joint projects, etc.
At one church, as kitchen committee leader, I had a church credit card, and I turned all receipts over to the church treasurer. I’ve also spend church money for VBS and SS supplies. My spending was in the treasurer’s monthly report.
That being said, I see no reason why every church can not, and should not, do the same. Someone, or several someone’s, must keep up with income and outgo. In this day and age, everything can be easily tracked….. there must be canceled checks and bank/credit card statements, people with internet access to the churches accounts, etc. Even in a mega-church, it can’t be that difficult for the treasurers, or record keepers, or accountants to compile a detailed statement every quarter.
In my book, church members have a right to know how their tithes and donations are being used….. itemized to the penny.
If you go to the last page of the pdf you’ll get the figures for 2021
Sarah, my church also lumps pastoral salaries together for the sake of privacy. The figure includes health insurance, taxes, etc. Having been in the business world, it appears that this figure for the number of people involved is approximately the same (or less) as I’ve seen elsewhere. They also strive to keep salaries commensurate with the income of people in our area. If they post a position, there is a salary range included. It’s hard to balance the privacy of the family versus what they are being paid. I can assure you, no one is getting rich.
“It dawned on me that I’m never hounded for money. The meeting went off without a hitch. The congregation was thanked for giving more than what was budgeted, and all questions were handled with kindness and openness.” (Dee)
“Let everyone give thoughtfully and with purpose just as you have decided in your heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
No money campaigns necessary! If you are “All In” for Jesus, you don’t need to be All In for Pastor and his money drives for more stuff.
If Matt Chandler can’t manage his mouth in coarse joking with young ladies, how could he manage the finances of an organization the size of Acts 29? If he wasn’t open and transparent on the exact nature of his Jokegate transgression, why would we expect transparency on Acts 29 affairs?
The Acts29 report linked to above is Excellence In Giving certified “Transparent”. Their business model seems to be:
– Charge organizations to become certified.
– Charge wealthy donors access to information about who they have certified so they can decide if they want to give to that org.
They charge a LOT to wealthy folks to access that information.
Way too much pewsitter money is squandered by denominational elites and entities, when local churches need to be directing hard-earned dollars to evangelism and missions within their communities as God leads them. In the absence of seeking God and Holy Spirit direction, somebody like Chandler will tell you what to do with your money. Cooperative giving to any organization is not really cooperative if a local congregation has no ability to make input and follow the money.
Could it be that the pastor doesn’t want you to know.
In my upbringing, in-house documents eventually became out-house documents 🙂
After being redacted of course.
Kenneth Copeland has THREE Private Jets.
(After all, Creflo Dollar only had TWO!)
As in “Everything black-barred out except the Bible-verse letterhead”?
I can only see what they tell the UK Charities Commission. Europe and UK amalgamated last year. Income was almost £40000, expenditure almost £80000, the shortfall made up from existing reserves. It is also linked to Crosslands – previous name Acts 29 Oak Hill Academy – which had an income of £461000 in 2021.
As for the USA, they say they have 484 churches. Funds from “giving” is said to be $4.93 million which means each church gives just over $10,000 (if they all pledge the same, which they don’t). As for what they pay their employees, who knows, but some have very nice houses 🙂
… housed in a multi-million dollar hangar on his private airport near his tax-free mega-mansion … he once told followers that when they drive by his house “they will know there is a God.” He also told them “You may think it’s too grand. I don’t care what you think. I heard from heaven. Glory to God, hallelujah!”
Sounds like the lowly Jesus, huh?
“The Acts29 report linked to above is Excellence In Giving certified “Transparent”…
– Charge organizations to become certified.
– Charge wealthy donors access to information about who they have certified so they can decide if they want to give to that org.
They charge a LOT to wealthy folks to access that information.”
…does the christian money grubbing have no end?
it floors me, the constant aggressive opportunism of christians exploiting Jesus and human beings in creating more and more big business opportunities.
“Excellence in Giving”…. is this, by chance, an Acts 29 entity?
just an observation re: the summary issues question “How many churches give $200,000/year?”
This number seems to be connected with the mention of Garden City Church contributions to A29. My reading of that quotation is that this is cumulative giving over a significant period of time. If over a decade, that would be ~ $20,000/year, consistent with the number in
Lowlandseer’s, discussion above.
An interesting “metric” would be the typical % of member church expenditures on church planting that is directed into A29. From the OP, it appears that this % may be increasing with the passage of time.
In the 60s when Oral Roberts U was founded with a dedication sermon by Billy Graham, Kenneth Copeland entered as a student. He did not graduate but spent significant time as Oral Roberts personal pilot
Mark Driscoll did not start Acts 29. That is total lie perpetuated by MD. Podcast episode 13 of the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill details how Acts 29 was started by Pastor David Nicholas of Spanish River Church in Boca Raton, FL. It’s fascinating (and tragic) to hear how MD entered the org and eventually kicked the it’s founder off the board.
These church planting cooperatives are like the pigs in Animal Farm. The more they claim not to be denominations, the more they come to resemble them. Four legs good, two legs better!
only when grubbees stop giving to the grubbers
Not surprised. Driscoll has a habit of throwing folks under the bus … a symptom of narcissistic sickness.
I was just going to bring it up.
You beat me to it.
But yes, it’s history started off okay. But then Driscoll got his hands all over it and did the hostile take over thing.
Then what Driscoll did to the founder was done to him. You reap what you sow. Eventually.
Here’s direct link to the episode that deals with it directly on CT’s site.
Thanks, Mara for the better link.
He also hijacked New Calvinism as the vessel to get his macho message and method out there. While he’s out of the NeoCal/Acts 29 picture now, his legacy lives on in hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Driscollites in American pulpits … Chandler is one example.
An eternal law that is in perpetual motion. You reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow. The pendulum eventually swings back.
Just finished listening to that podcast. What really struck me was that Driscoll’s faults seemed to be recognized even back in the early days, but more experienced church planters/pastors thought they could mentor him out of it (my paraphrase).
Someone might’ve already noticed this in the article Afterburne linked to and made a comment….I haven’t finished reading all the comments yet.
….not only that, but the pastor (Kevin Galloway) had been intoxicated (he had “a 0.148 percent blood alcohol content”), was driving on the wrong side of the Indiana Toll Road, and “before entering the clergy, he was an Indiana State Police Trooper, and prior to that a LaPorte County sheriff’s deputy.”
Well, that didn’t work! Instead, his bad boy persona rubbed off on many of them. New Calvinism ‘was’ Mark Driscoll to many of the young reformers … they mimicked his message and method (some still do). The more distinguished and civilised among the NeoCals, like Piper, put up with the potty-mouth from Seattle because he was crucial to the movement.
He just schmoozed them, used them (and their influence), then threw them away to move onto more prey.
That’s what Narcissists do. He’s just a particularly gifted predator and propogandist.
A lot of people have been burned by him, or thrown under the bus, if you will.
Here is more on David Nicholas: https://tallskinnykiwi.com/2021/10/david-nicholas-and-acts-29/
Waiting for Driscoll to reap what he’s sown in Scottsdale. I would really like to forget that he exists. But he won’t go away and wants to continue to trouble the world with his stupid books that teach Driscoll’s way as God’s truth.
Thank you for this. There appears to be limited accountability with this group. Shhhh! Don’t tell.
(Sometimes her name is spelled with two L’s)
I vaguely remember very brief talk about this kind of “collaboration”.
It immediately got nipped in the bud – replaced across a range of denominations by bad amplifying, the fake charismatic, new apostolic, restorationism, “apologetism”, updated forms of Manifest Destiny dominionism, all of it called “emergent” or “evangelical”, some overtly moralistic, some pretend non-moralistic, none of them knowing anything about the Kingdom of God – the Reformed are just the dry end of it.
There doesn’t seem any concept of Scriptures having meanings (which the secular world now copies in regard to all other texts). Because I don’t press anybody’s buttons and nobody presses mine (I just used to pretend they do), I conclude there is no real recognition or concept of gifts. Prayer has been air brushed out of the deal altogether.
I dreamed of collaborative christianity since my teens. It might well be that we need a Back to Morgenthal(l)er campaign?
Both in the Buzzard testimony and the Galloway testimony there seems a fairly overtly admitted assumption (albeit waffly) that “planting” does indeed, in fact mean takeovers.
While Rev Buzzard is right to have trusted his intuition of late, and that of his advisors, his pattern of writing (and presumably thinking and speaking) is amazingly illogical.
If he wanted to avoid wording it so as to be sued by those he was splitting from, he could still have been both far more succinct, and systematic.
It’s good that he acknowledges genuine kindnesses that were shown to him. But I wonder why the generally cloying atmosphere stifles the possibility of a similar attitude and attentive relating towards or among ordinary attenders.
On a separate note it’s fascinating that the phenomena under discussion had connections with Oak Hill (mentioned by Lowlandseer this morning). Reformed characters I know who had Oak Hill ties are exceedingly tight lipped about Acts 29 and 9 Marks – I honestly don’t know if we are on our way into or out of that scene, but I do get a vague impression they are trying to get away from Fletcher / the Smyths (harder than the “new apostolics” are).
It’s not “gossip” to warn each other. St Paul was exceedingly explicit about personalities.
Well, Kevin Galloway seems to be a man who wants power and authority . . . any. Way. He. Can. Get. It.
A man I wouldn’t want any part of.
For government employees in many countries, the pay scales are public, and pay often depends on position and seniority. Anybody who wants to know how much a person earns only needs to pull the pdf from the internet and look it up. As long as you know how long someone has been in service (which can be pretty accurately guessed from their age), voilà their salary.
I know because that’s my situation. It’s definitely not scary.
Will there be people who think I make too much? You bet.
OTOH, there are always people with comparable qualifications who wonder why I would work for so little. But I am happy with what I have, and we have always tried to keep recurring expenses low.
Exactly. There is nothing private about a nonprofit that seeks and takes public donations for funding, including salaries.
Once again, the pastorate is a “special class” that cannot live up to the integrity of the title and the mission.
Transparency should be the bottom line, the lowest bar, the name of the game, the expectation.
Of course, if the idea of church is Come One and All Where Everyone Can Hide Their Secret Life, including the threesomes with the poolboy, like the Falwells, for example, then covert cover-up corruption is the way to go.
AVA, I agree with you . . . as keeping ‘secrets’ is the same as not trusting those who donated the money in the first place to approve how it is spent. A ‘disconnect’ that is moral in nature, yes. Those who worked hard to raise that money and gave it to a designated purpose NEED TO KNOW that their efforts have been honored, not violated by greedy ‘pastors’ in wolf’s clothing.
I wonder when A29 increased its mandatory contributions to 10 percent. An A29 church near me still lists 2 percent (plus another 1 percent to the Summit Network) in their budget, including the 2023 budget. To its credit this particular church is open about being SBC, thought they now give only to the NC state convention and directly to the IMB. There were some changes made at the state executive level last year regarding recommended giving, specifically to the state convention. I’m not sure of all the details.
I wonder if the Summit network is a competitor of Acts 29 for $$?I know they are planting churches and I know one that may have failed. Do you know if they give a transparent report of how many worked and how many didn’t? Acts 29 doesn’t. NAMB doesn’t.
Random thoughts: I too remember the monthly business meetings at the local SBC church. And if you bothered to attend you would know all staff’s compensation down to the penny. No secrets. Of course, that made it a little harder for them to climb the corporate ladder and kept them honest on bragging rights with other pastors, but no one was concerned about that.
But if I get this post correctly, a bunch of dudes who were supposed to serve the church but instead decided to rule it, thought they had some compadres to aid them in their take overs, and are now shocked that the shoe is on the other foot and the compadres are taking over them?
Oh well. Or in Ozarkian, “What goes around comes around, you reap what you sow, and if they will cheat with ya they will cheat on ya.”
I’m not sure if Summit is a competitor or in “friendly cooperation”. There are SO MANY church planting networks and it’s hard to keep track of them all. They are metamorphosizing (metastasizing?) into denominations, in my opinion. If the SBC really does break-up, I expect a majority of the churches will align with their CP network and move on. At least the urban and/or those formally known as YRR congregations.
Regarding CP failure rate, it’s not discussed at the local congregation level. However, I’m very curious. If people knew the actual failure rate, they may be less inclined to give to new plants, especially in areas that already have a faithful witness. Of course, church plants are couched in terms of “faithful gospel witness”, so ppl may still give out of a desire to do what they’re told is the right thing.
For pastors, it’s only scary if you know you’re being over compensated and and you don’t want people to know . . . secrecy is to your benefit here.
Believe it or not, some congregations also want to make sure nobody is UNDERpaid. Back in the day, a lot of ministers and office staff members were hired to work full time for a salary, but the salary was somewhere below the poverty line—and yet the work kept them busy 40-80 hours a week. This left no time for these folks to hold down another job.
Adding to the problem: if the pastor is a married man, the congregation might disapprove of his wife working for pay. If the pastor is unmarried, no one else in the household is available to help with the rent and food.
If a congregation can afford to offer a living wage, through a transparent budget and voluntary donations, that seems reasonable to me.
What are pastors doing during all those work hours? Planning and presiding over regular worship services (also weddings and funerals), researching and writing sermons, meeting with engaged couples, consoling the bereaved, counseling any member in distress, overseeing outreach and mission work, etc., etc. I have received pastoral visits in the hospital and Communion at home. The time I phoned the church office in great distress, I got help within 15 seconds.
Yes, some churches work on a completely unpaid basis. Yes, Kenneth Copeland has a fleet of aircraft. Other established ways exist, overall a middle way.
Sorry, that truly wasn’t a rant at you. I was trying to offer some detail, not a wall of text. 🙂
Unless you are a young New Calvinist pastor and you don’t do much of any of that. But they have plenty of time to tweet their lives away with their dudebros at the local coffee shop through the week (at least the ones in my area).
As an Ozarkian, you would also say “I don’t trust them as far as I could throw them.” 🙂
One of my favorite articles from Internet Monk.
I grew up in such a church. This method has its flaws but the secrecy method has so many opportunities for abuse that the flaws are worth it.
When you stop viewing churches that have a pastor king, a building, paid staff and all the other expensive amenities as JESUS CHURCH things do become much clearer and order of magnitude simpler. Jesus has a church alright and you do not get to be a part of that just by hanging a sign with the word “Church” on it.
You put knowing Him first, everything else must follow after that, including relations with other Christians and how you fit into His mission. Most of what claims to be His church today isn’t. It is built either for the pastor king or as a social club for the members. Neither of those things will get you into heaven on their own.
Yes. I get all of that.l and know that sime church staff and oadtirs are underpaid. I specifically have a problem with the “secretive” part of Pastor’s salaries.
And when one of them becomes a potato too hot to handle, they distance themselves from the transgressor … it becomes “Driscoll who?” … “Mahaney who?” … “MacDonald who?” … etc.
Where church is working – in reverence to God and healthy Love Your Neighbor as Yourself among people – good and God bless.
Where church is not working – for us, we’re investing neither time nor money.
Be nice if we all had that problem.
I used to work a publicly funded job like that, and it didn’t bother me, either. It was even searchable by name and separated out salary from overtime pay and benefits! (https://transparentcalifornia.com/) But my compensation was also not discussed and debated on an annual basis by my nearest and dearest friends, and there were thousands of people in the compensation database, so there was a form of anonymity there.
I totally agree that pastoral and staff compensation (salary, healthcare, payroll taxes, etc) should be openly disclosed in church budgets. I’m just also ok with a modicum of privacy for the pastor’s family when feasible, like lumping pastoral or staff compensation together for a budget that’s presented at a budget meeting. Generic budget meetings don’t usually require an itemized list of how much was spent on pencils vs the copy machine vs staples, either, but just lump it together under “office supplies.”
Max–amen to your additional sayings. Also could add in “that dog won’t hunt” or “he’s crookeder than a dog’s hind leg” or “they must think we got mush for brains.”
Or the biggie: “If I cain’t trust you with my money, my wife, or my boat why do you think I am gonna trust you with my eternity?”
It would do every churchgoer well to sit down, pray, reflect, examine Scripture and seriously consider “What church is” and “What church isn’t” … the latter is easy to find in American communities, the former is scattered only here and there. You shouldn’t invest time and money in the latter, but give your all to the former (if you are fortunate enough to find it).
A lot of people will never look around at other churches, though, because they have a different way of doing X, Y, or Z. We might leave our own churches, but no other place could possibly be better. We know that, because we heard it at church!
Church health goes deeper than what we were taught.
You, my dear Linda, are a true-blue Ozarker! It’s a different language that paints the picture well. 🙂