Saturday, July 09, 2011

Pastor as director of a non-profit organization

I've been starting to think of my role as the pastor of a church in different terms. Maybe it's a mere justification, or maybe it's a better understanding of what I really do, but... I think it helps me to think of my position as more of a 'Director of a Non-Profit Organization.'

There have always been people who don't think the "Pastor" should get paid - maybe now more than ever. They are usually either people who write books or lead ministries for a living (meaning, they get paid to do that), or they are people in churches who never lift a finger to do anything because they think everything should just magically get done on its own. I also know of a lot of pastors right now who are going through serious anxiety complexes because there are so many things being written about the evils of paying a pastor. I'm not sure how they account for all the biblical references in support of paying pastors, but even beyond that I have come to see pastoring and leading a church as two different things. So I'm okay with not being paid to pastor, but I feel fairly legitimized in getting paid to direct the non-profit organization I lead.

For instance, most people don't question paying the director of a rescue mission, or the director of other missions or parachurch organizations, or even non-profits that aren't church related - like hospital groups, or Habitat for Humanity, or other civic and social organizations. Because most of us understand that it takes a great deal of time and effort to direct any non-profit organization. It is hard work trying to lead any group that relies on volunteers, and maybe none is harder than the church because so many of those "volunteers" fail to realize they are supposed to be active participants. And this doesn't include things like opening the mail, answering the phone, running websites, mowing the grass, pulling weeds, making calls and visits to constituents, and all sorts of other necessary things that need to be done for the day-to-day operation of the organization. Not to mention vision casting, planning, and the spiritual element involved in church work. In fact, most people who get paid to direct these other non-profit organizations make a whole whale of a lot more money than most of the pastors that I know.

And I realize that some of you are probably thinking, "Ah, but the church shouldn't be considered an organization or institution." To which I roll my eyes (hopefully without you seeing it) and kindly disagree. Where do we get the idea that the church shouldn't be organized? It is true that many of our churches have gotten things backwards - we have put the organization ahead of Jesus (the cart before the horse). I still remember when I interviewed for my present job, I asked what some of the good things about this church were and someone actually said (as a positive), "The people here love this church more than they love God." I do think they realized how terrible that sounded after they said it, but I think that's a truth too many people don't realize in their lives (good church people, but maybe poor Christians). At any rate, while the fact is that the church doesn't own Jesus... I believe it's also true that Jesus DOES have a church. And it's all over the Bible (read the book of Acts, and Corinthians, and... elsewhere) how they organized for worship, and to look after orphans and widows, and the poor and lame, and a host of other things. So while some people need to get over the issue of "organized" church, perhaps others need to get straight about what it is we are to be organized around (or for). Which brings me back to the need for someone to oversee the organization... the Pastor.

I think part of the problem is that we have equated paying pastors with paying someone to "do ministry." I would agree that we shouldn't pay people to do ministry, because that's something all Christians should be doing. And I do ministry not only as part of my job as a pastor, but I also do it when I am 'off the clock' too. Just like someone who works in a factory can be doing ministry while they are at work - whether that is listening to fellow co-workers, or praying with someone, or talking about their faith - and they should also be doing the same while they are not at work. So in some respects I wonder if it would be easier to keep things straight if we quit calling pastors "pastors." Pastoring is something we "do," not something we "are." For some people they may be a pastor and also get paid to direct a non-profit organization, and some may pastor and get paid to do some other kind of work. They are different things. There are even some non-profits that may not require a full-time paid position. But there are many which do.

At any rate, this has helped me settle in my mind that my job and my ministry are not necessarily the same thing. True, they are tied together in a special way; but I serve in ministry beyond what I am paid for, and I am paid to do a much-needed job. At least I think so.


JAH said...

Very good.

Carrie Jade said...

If this had a 'like' button I would click it.`