Church as a business?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by webdog, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    Something I've struggled with the past few years is how today's church is run. I'm not talking about congregational vs. elder rule, purpose driven, seeker, etc. I'm talking about the giving of tithes and offerings and how they are used. Every time I see a breakdown of how giving is used, it both sickens and saddens me. I'll give you a random number of what I'm talking about. Say in a 6 month period a church receives 200k in tithes and offering. Say it is broken down to 120k in personnel and 70k in facilities leaving 10k for everything else including supporting missions, discipleship (which I do understand the salaried pastor is a big part of), bereavement, etc.

    Is this the way the church was intended to be and what is one supposed to do if they do not agree with this model and there are no other churches around? I do not believe at this point in time God has called me to plant a church or be a pastor, so that option is out. As someone who is struggling financially (along with many Americans) I'm having a hard time setting aside a portion to "give back to God" that will end up being primarily used to support a salary or building. I realize this could just be me, and the purpose of this thread is to work through this.
     
  2. Brads70

    Brads70
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    I to have issue's with what your talking about. How I settled it is, all I have is God's period. I believe he asks me to give back a portion in faith. So I do in faith. I don't stick to the 10% I pray about it and a number usually comes up . Often it's more than 10%.
    I figure/reason it's not my job to worry about how someone else spends the money , it's my job to be obedient and give it back as it was never really mine in the first place. God is MUCH bigger than I am and See's the whole picture. He is in control of how it's spent. While I do struggle with leaving things at his feet, this issue I HAVE to, as it would drive me nuts otherwise!
    I do believe someday.... some people will have some "explaining to do" my job is to not be one of them.
    Just my 2 cents....hope it helped? :wavey:
     
  3. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the input. This is actually my position currently, but got to thinking...since I do receive a bi-annual report I cannot really claim ignorance...I know how the money is being used. This makes me a steward of what He has given me, and if I cannot agree with how the local church uses it, how can I be a "cheerful giver"?
     
  4. agedman

    agedman
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2011
    Messages:
    4,258
    Likes Received:
    187

    Having gone through this myself, (being released by SB churches for not giving to the "cooperative program) I have understanding of both the emotional aspect and the need to actually see the giving as to the Lord.

    Two immediate thoughts come to mind.

    First, the giving is to be as you prosper. That doesn't mean that you don't have the example of the widow woman's mite giving, but you as a father are first responsible to provide for the family.

    So, within that responsibility you need to examine what is a need and what is a luxury. Whatever is luxury should be consider "prosper." Look at clothing for instance.

    Say you have two suits - do you need them? Perhaps you do, if you work in a suit, but perhaps not if they are just the Sunday best. Do you have multiple jackets - consider what is necessary and what is prosperity.

    I look at my bride's shoes - and I learned to keep my thoughts and mouth shut. :)

    What I am saying is that giving isn't necessarily money. We are to give of all our increase.

    Secondly, don't think that giving will automatically bring prosperity. It is better to give out of a heart of love and conviction that what you are giving is to the glory of God, than to ever hope to gain by giving. Giving will bring blessings, no doubt, and giving is not an option to a loving believer.

    Bring you and your family to a high sense of giving to others' needs. I once visited in the home of an elderly couple. I sensed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do some physical helps to the most evident need, but was too busy to submit. I can tell you to the day the exactness of the rebuke God brought to my family.

    It is just my bride and I at home now, and I am the chief cook and bottle washer. We are also no longer comfortable with inviting folks over for a visit in our home. We don't turn anyone away, but never know from one day to the next our own health and wellness of home and body. It is hard to fix shrimp creole for two. So, I make it for more and give a portion. I do the same with the meet loaf and chocolate chip cookies. The Dr. Pepper cake I make stays at home, though. :)

    Specifically about your question in support of the local church. As a member sees their own financial state decline, it is difficult to keep the eyes off the immediate personal needs and upon the actual needs of the assembly.

    The widow lady wasn't concerned with the overly rich and piety of the temple nor the priests. She gave because it was in her heart to give. She gave the amount that was in her heart to give. Of all the people she was singled out because of the heart value not the financial value.

    So whatever you and your family give, and no matter what form the giving takes, it is paramount that the heart value abound in the aspect of love.

    For without love, it is possible to give and to excessively give, and it be of no value to the assembly or the giver.
     
  5. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    Messages:
    4,439
    Likes Received:
    0
    I always ask this question first, have you spoken to your church's leadership about it?

    But if you have, and from your other posts, I imagine you have talked to them (which is a good thing), then if you're still not happy with the direction the church is going, you have to decide if it's important enough to end the relationship or to 'live with it'.

    Another question is what part are you unhappy about? the personnel or the facilities?
     
  6. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    I haven't. My OP was essntially asking if this is normal since this has been the trend from the few I've been part of in my life.
    But even if I do (or did), what is the alternative? I'm not finding one in this day and age.
    Both, but not so much as what the money is NOT being used for which are many.
     
  7. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    Messages:
    4,439
    Likes Received:
    0
    Really not trying to argue, but if you had you 'druthers would you let staff go to spend more in ministry opportunities or try to hurry and pay off mortgages on the bldgs so you could eventually get to more into ministry?

    Trust me, I share your frustration at this. Most pastors do. I think part of the alternative is to train and then set lay people free to do the ministry that staff is being paid for AND to not build facilities that handcuff what the church can do service wise.

    It's a very tough and delicate balance to find and keep. I like this thread. Maybe all of us can work out something.
     
  8. agedman

    agedman
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2011
    Messages:
    4,258
    Likes Received:
    187
    Tom, I agree.

    There are some who are gifted in finances, building, cleaning, teaching, ...

    Unfortunately, many assemblies would rather pay for janitorial service than have a come to meet and clean time one evening a week.

    I once sat and watched the youth trash a section of the sanctuary with no care that they might be required to clean up after themselves. Then the parents become offended when a low on the totem pole staff member required them to pick it all up. "That's the janitor's job..."

    Perhaps the Amish have the right idea about community members helping and meeting the needs of each other that the Baptists cousins have long neglected.
     
  9. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    What if you are renting? And based on the above numbers (which I made up) is the salary for a Sr. pastor, associate pastor and two part time staff (one administrative, one to clean / decorate) something that should be supplied by a few hundred people (more than 2 less than 5)? I'm trying to find out what others use as a guide, and if this guide is done biblically or "non profitably".
     
  10. glfredrick

    glfredrick
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    4,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    I know of multiple congregations that are using borrowed or rented facilities. While they save money in comparison to holding a facility of their own they are also hamstrung over the high cost in personnel to set up and tear down for every event.

    I'm not against the "houseless" church, but it had better be thought out well before implimentation. Otherwise, go with the building.

    About costs, yes, they go up and up and up, including salaries of staff. What doesn't seem to keep up however is the tithe or offering. I still find people doing the same old $5 or $20 that they did in the 1970s though that money today doesn't purchase much against a $500 electric bill.

    And, if you want some real headaches (and blessings!) our former church in Louisville saw an annual budget of over $2.4 million plus an additional giving of another $2.1 million per year for expansion and new work. We had one member that wrote a $2 million check! Another purchased outright an old Catholic Cathedral that was all but abandoned so that we could renovate and move to larger facilites for worship. Average age of the church members is under 30... :thumbs:
     
  11. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2006
    Messages:
    4,439
    Likes Received:
    0
    :laugh: :D

    The administrative person may be more valuable than anyone. I'd give alot for a real adminstrative assistant.

    Most church stuff, unfortunately, is done more as a non-profit than Biblically.
     
  12. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    9,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    Our church budget is prepared by the Finance Committee and the Pastor. His recommendations carry great weight, of course.

    We also invite the leaders of our various ministries to submit requests for funding. Since they are closest to their ministries, their recommendations are also given much weight, and usually their requests are incorporated.

    Sometimes, the budget requests will exceed anticipated tithes and offerings. It's the Finance Committee's job to strike the proper balance, and to set priorities. One question is always asked: Is this consistent with out mission?

    Before the budget proposal is taken to the church for its approval, it is bathed in prayer. Actually, it's bathed in prayer from the start of the process.

    Before voting, the congregation is asked for input and questions. I have actually seen a line item changed as the result of congregation input.

    We are not a large church, so we have to watch our pennies. But we are blessed, that the Lord has provided.

    In our church's case, it would unwise for the Finance Committee to propose a budget as "take it or leave it."
    The more people who have input, the better.
     
    #12 Tom Butler, Jan 30, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2012
  13. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    7,406
    Likes Received:
    99
    You've got some great questions here and they are important ones. I would first point out that the Church has used business, or organizational, principles since its inception. Once the first offering was taken, once the first gathering, once the first baptism...organizational/business principles were part of the Church. That is to say they aren't, inherently, bad. They are important to mind and remember our final bottomline is different than the secular principles we utilize. But they aren't a bad thing.

    The examples that you gave above tell me a couple of things. One is that this is a reminder of how important it is for smaller churches to be effectively run. You're seeing the reality of having a building, staff, and learning balance with other ministries. I've served in all sized churches and they all struggle with some of these tensions. That said, it is a reasonable approprotionment of funds imho.

    The other thing it tells me is that there are needs in your community and your local church is trying to be a wise steward of how to address them while also minding their obligations to the facility and the staff. This is an important balance.

    Well (not to be snarky) but how else should it be run? I mean by this point in the history of the Church we have seen pretty much all the models and ways of doing things. Baptists have, historically, believed in paid clergy, owned facilities, and also missions/benevolence support. If the average Baptist church is 200 or so people (which is actually maybe 75 families) and given that only about 20-30% of your families are supporting that local church and only about 8% of the families are tithers...I mean this is where we are.

    One of the greatest questions concerns clergy. Granted I serve a large church where our annual budget is quite large, but we do need to pay and honor staff. Paul believed it and taught it. Yet it seems, given the excessive costs of health care and cost of living, that any church community might be benefitted by having part-time clergy. That said, if you're dedicated to honoring your pastor then that should take priority.

    There are some other models where the community supports itself without any paid staff. That can work but, as we find, it limits the ability of that community to reach out and grow. At some point there must be a leader(s) who champion what is important and lead others out in serving/sharing.

    I think one of the problems also is that many people (this is not an accusation) believe that they can effectively manage their churches without any paid clergy or staff. They can take that $100k back and reivest it in proper community outreach programs or benefitting others. Unfortunately at some point the lay leadership breaks down and you're left with a few making decisions and doing ministry until they get burned out or steal all the money (because of lack of oversight.) The other problem is that the needs of the community end up not being met very well...Oh and you're still using a business/organizational model, just a broken one. :)

    So at some point it is important to have necessary conversations. If the community isn't growing and seeing lives changed then that is probably a problem. We also need to remember that it costs money to be present in a community and operate our facilities properly. A/C in the summer and heat in the winter cost...so does keeping the lights on.

    Well as a member of the community you've got an obligation to use a biblical method of discussing this with your leadership. The point of giving isn't so that it benefits the community first, but is about our willingness to submit to God's leadership and the leadership of those around us.

    You've got a good head on your shoulders. Sit down and talk about it. It helps everyone. Just the other week I sat down with two young men, who are wonderful leaders, and talked about how churches are run, I get paid, and the ministry gets done (because they had these questions.) They had never heard an actual biblical perspective on how we manage and lead our churches. It was a good conversation.
     
  14. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    Is your church elder lead or congregational lead?
     
  15. Ruiz

    Ruiz
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2010
    Messages:
    2,021
    Likes Received:
    0
    First, I agree with some of you assessment in churches being run like a business. This is a constant critique of mine. In your budget, for instance, I believe more money should be given to missions. Yet, I think the other aspects may be in line. Programs should be secondary to staff (I think people should be a higher priority than programs). Yet, I would be interested in your thoughts.

    Our church gives about 1/3rd to missions. This is something I believe is beneficial. I think we spend too much on some areas, but overall we spend have a good grasp of our finances.
     
  16. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the insight.
    Not sure how it is to be run to be honest. I do know the early church had a plurality of elders, and churches today that practice this model have one paid elder with a number of volunteers...which I don't completely understand. Why does 1 elder receive a nice salary, 1 a lesser salary and a few others nothing for their work?
    Are we taught anywhere to honor the pastor, and not the other elders? Why can't the budget be constructed, say, for salaries not to exceed 35% of the annual budget? Many families are losing homes, jobs, savings, etc. Time are tough. Shouldn't this reflect in the salaries of those in the church too?
    Since I've never seen this model before, how does it limit community outreach?

    Thanks again for the insight, keep it coming!
     
  17. webdog

    webdog
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    24,691
    Likes Received:
    0
    I, too, believe people should come before programs. I wish more missions and discipleship would be supported to be honest. I can see salaries reflecting monies brought in, but many times it is ironclad regardless, even dipping into the reserves and running into the red. Like I mentioned in the above post, I also have an issue with one of 4 or 5 elders being fully supported including housing and healthcare. Why is this the case in the 21st centur church?
     
  18. Jerome

    Jerome
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    5,629
    Likes Received:
    45
    Sadly, devotion to this "plurality of elders" scheme often trumps the biblical mandate to support ministers of the gospel.

    Baptist minister Andrew Fuller, “On Church Government and Discipline”:

    “…for a small church to have more pastors than one is as unnecessary as to have seven deacons. Such a rule must favor idleness, and confine useful ministers from extending their labours. To place two or three in a post whch might be filled with one, must leave many other places unoccupied. Such a system is more adapted for show than for promoting the kingdom of Christ.”

    “If...a plurality of [elders] be required, why is not a plurality of them supported? The office of elder in those churches which are partial to the system is little more than nominal: for while an elder is employed like other men in the necessary cares of life, he cannot ordinarily fulfil the duties of his office."
     
  19. TCGreek

    TCGreek
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2006
    Messages:
    7,373
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just completed Christless Christianity by Michael S. Horton, who addresses some of these issues. It's a great read.
     
  20. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    7,406
    Likes Received:
    99
    Always happy to oblige. You're a wonderful conversation partner. :)

    As a pastor, I'd say you've got a responsibility to yourself and your church to figure out how this works. Find out how the church is led. One of the things I've found that often disputes arise in churches based on perception and not reality. I bet your pastoral staff would love to answer your questions. :)

    35% is a crazy number imho. Honestly I could never get a church (in our age using a free church model) to get there unless you had a skelton crew and a bunch of turnover.

    Our church has our total personnel dollars at 47.5% of budget. Granted we have about fifty people on staff, but that is still a good ratio. For smaller churches you will probably have a larger personnel line. The church i grew up in (annual income was like $450k) ran about 350 on Sunday and had 53% of their budget in personnel dollars. We were located in a higher income metro area so that is part of it too.

    I get that times are tough and I was always taught that when your reciepts at a church decline (over a continued period) the leadership has an obligation to adjust their salaries accordingly. One of the other rules of thumb is that your staff salary needs to operate like the local school distrinct (this is a general rule...apply carefully.) Since the school district has a pretty close watch on the median income they are able to be a good measurement. If your church is small the pastor's salary should be like a teacher. A little bit bigger, a department head. Even larger a principal. Really large, like the superintendent. Its a subjective scale.

    The model I'm talking about is where there is either a) no ordained/clergy leadership of a church or b) there is leadership but it is unpaid. Essentially what happens is, by good intentioned people, you remove any lasting incentive from someone to be a staff leader of the church and motivate people to do stuff. If they're working another job they'll have divided labors. It ultimately effects every part of the church because we need people to lead us who have a investment in the progress of the church. The other issue is, and I've not seen instances where this doesn't happen, there is a lack of motivated leadership to push the church into the community. There are good things about this model intially, but over the long run it actually draws the church away from the community. Just my opinion. Thanks for the conversation. :)
     

Share This Page

Loading...