Ethical Question Concerning Pastor's Family

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by drfuss, Feb 5, 2006.

  1. drfuss

    drfuss
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    I used to belong to a non-baptist church which was somewhat independent in that they "called their pastors" by a vote of the membership. However, the pastors had more control over decisions than in most Baptists chunches. It is a common practice in that denomination for pastors who had sons in the ministry to bring them on staff as associate or assistant ministers.

    My question is: Is this ethical? A pastor is supposed to be "called of God" to that church. Is it ethical for pastors to treat the church as their business and hire their sons with the potential of passing the church (business) on to their family?

    What do you think about this?
     
  2. bapmom

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    I think its a very good idea for pastors to attempt to train their own sons for the ministry right there under their supervision.

    I choose not to assume that the pastor is treating his church as a "business", but rather is being willing to teach and train the younger generation in a "hands-on" training style.
     
  3. exscentric

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    Not an uncommon practice in Baptist churches either, just little more congregation control involved, and I'd agree, I wouldn't assume it is treating things as a business, nor looking to pass the church on to the son. To pass it on in any church would take congregational involvement I'd guess, unless they have one dangerous constitution.

    With that out of the way, it isn't the wisest practice in many cases I've observed, because it often causes problems in time.
     
  4. gb93433

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    Nepotism is not usually good and often creates distrust.
     
  5. Helen

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    Depends on the son! A church we used to go to had a pastor and his lovely wife and they had six children. We watched them all grow up. One of their daughters was extremely musical and she became the head of the high school music department. The choir became so good they toured each Spring vacation. She did an excellent job and was loved by all of us, as was her husband. Two of the boys later went into the ministry as well, and I think the training they got working with their father served them well.
     
  6. Ron Arndt

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    Every independent Baptist church should have a board of deacons and teachers. These members should decide on all future Pastors, song leaders and Sunday School superintendents. Also all local Pastors seeking to be a Pastor of a said church needs to be given a "testing" period to see if the board approves of him. As well as the other members of the church at large. Many Pastors should be examined and tested before a final decision is reached. For you will have that person in charge of your local church for many YEARS. Try the shoe on FIRST to see if it fits.
     
  7. Brother Ian

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    You can't categorically conclude anything from one example. What may be good in one case could be disasterous in another.
     
  8. mima

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    In my opinion this practice is overdone. Whether or not a minister's son is called to the Ministry should not be a decision that the minister makes for his son.
     
  9. mcdirector

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    I've been in churches where sons and sons-in-law were on staff. I've also been in churches where lay-leaders's sons were brought on staff. So much depends on the son -- every church is a training ground, a place to serve, grow, and learn.
     
  10. drfuss

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    Thanks for the quick responses. I was a manager in the civil service for the federal government for many years. The civil service has laws against such practices because of the appearance and possibility of favortism, etc. It is interesting that the ethical goals of the civil service are higher than the parctices of many churches concerning this area.

    As you probably suspect, I think this practice is unethicl and can lead to resentment and discord.
     
  11. mountainrun

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    I think it's a bad practice as well.
    I see Robert Schuller's son is taking over for him but I guess it's more like Schuller's own personal church anyway.


    MR
     
  12. mcdirector

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    I'm not real crazy about it. If nothing else, it leads to hard feelings. There are enough of those in so many churches without actively seeking them.
     
  13. drfuss

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    Pastors like to identify with the prophets in claiming to have the "call of God" for that church. I am not suggesting they do not have the "call of God". However, I know of no great prophet who was the son of a great prephet. Perhaps there is one that I missed.

    Samuel was a great prophet. The only negative thing recorded about Samuel was that he tried to set up his sons to follow him. This was one of the reasons the elders of Isreal ask for a king.
     
  14. bapmom

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    drfuss,

    not to argue with you, but Samuel's sons were wicked. THAT is the reason the sons should have been rejected. If we want to use the OT as an example, there were generations of priests where the son took over the duties of high priest from his father. ALL of the Levitical priesthood was passed on father to son.

    That being said, I don't think the church ought to be run that way. However, a couple people have made comments like

    "Whether or not a minister's son is called to the Ministry should not be a decision that the minister makes for his son."

    Why do we assume that the pastor is making the decision for his son? Simply because he brings his son or son-in-law onto the staff does not mean that he is making a life-choice for his son. The pastors I know wouldn't want a child in the ministry if that isn't what God wanted for that child.

    I've never been in a church where the son was on staff under his pastor-father. I have been in churches where a relative of some sort was on staff.....but it was always after approval of the congregation. And personally, I think if there are bad feelings caused because the pastor brought a relative onto his staff, than that very well could indicate that the pastor HAD to look amongst his family members because no one else in his congregation was ready to be put on staff. I wouldn't want someone on staff who would get offended if they did NOT get hired.

    Just like in every other area, we must take these things on a case to case basis. If the son or relative is corrupt, than deal with that just like we would if any other staff member was unacceptable. But don't condemn just because he's a relative.
     
  15. drfuss

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    Bapmom wrote:
    "not to argue with you, but Samuel's sons were wicked. THAT is the reason the sons should have been rejected. If we want to use the OT as an example, there were generations of priests where the son took over the duties of high priest from his father. ALL of the Levitical priesthood was passed on father to son."

    Priests, Levites and kings are not the point. Jesus is now our priest and king. In the temple, the levites were support people like singers and custodians. The prophets were the ones that proclaimed the word and the ones pastors tend to identify with.

    Do you know of any great prophet in the Bible that was the son of a great prophet?

    Far be it from me to limit God in how he works, He does things the way He wants. But the church is supposed to belong to God. However, the pastor should not treat the church as though he owns it by using his position to hire his family.

    The question should be: if I wasn't the pastor here, would my family be on the ministry staff? In practically all cases, the answer would be no.

    BYW, the large church we have belonged to for 14 years has not hired any pastor family menbers that I know of.

    I am not here to argue either, but the trend that I consider to be unethical, seems to be growing. Where will it lead?
     
  16. drfuss

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    Bapmom writes:
    "not to argue with you, but Samuel's sons were wicked."

    Thanks for pointing this out because it illustrates my point. Samuel certainly knew his sons and what they were. But, because they were family, he appointed them anyway to the detriment of Israel. Even Samuel couldn't resist the temptation to promote his sons even though they were not quailfied.

    Samuel was a great man of God and even he couldn't handle it. Having senior pastor family menbers on the ministry staff is just a bad system and should be avoided.
     
  17. Mel Miller

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    drfuss,

    How is it possible to avoid this question in a
    Congregational setting?

    The Congregation could amend its constitution
    or by-laws; but probably suffer much dissension
    if it should be done in a controverial setting.

    Mel Miller www.lastday.net
     
  18. drfuss

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    Mel,

    You raise a good question. I think amending the constitution and bylaws would be going to far. If a pastor really has a call of God to the church, then he should recognize that the church really belongs to God and not to him or his family.

    Unfortunately, pastors tend to develop personal followings who will think it is nice that the pastor's family also can be employed by the church in a ministry role. In many cases, those not in his personal following will resent this, which can cause disension in the church. The question is: would this minister be hired by the church if they were not in the pastor's family? The honest answer is almost always no.

    We can only hope that the senior pastor has enough scruples to not take advantage of his position, and/or that the church board or personnel committee will have enough backbone to say no.

    Remember even Samuel could not resist the temptation to appoint his sons to follow him, which was to the detriment of Israel.

    Unlike some other denominations, Baptist churches usually have some checks and balances to minimize this proplem.

    PTL that my church does not have this problem.

    drfuss
     
  19. bobbyd

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    Although my little boy is only 4 years old...i would love to see him one day being mentored (if the the Lord wills it) for the ministry under his dear old dad!
    At the same time though, i would not want to do it with the intention of passing the reigns on to him one day.

    I served at a church in KY where i started as a member while in seminary, did my SME there and it opened up into an Assoc. Pastor postion. When the pastor told me he was resigning to go to another ministry opportunity he also said that he was going to recommend that they just name me pastor...no discussion, fusses, fights or arguments (and this was a SBC church, but the pastor did have a lot more say so than in the majority of other SBC churches).
    I told him "no", and didn't think it was right for a pastor to do that.

    I think this would probably be the same attitude i had if i had my own son working under me also.
     
  20. PastorMark

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    Really? Do you have scripture on this?

    PastorMark.
     

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