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Question of Ethics

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Pastor_Bob, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob Well-Known Member

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    Allow me to create a very common scenario: a preacher moves to a certain town to plant a church or to take a small church that is unable to provide a salary. He is forced to get a job to make ends meet, not only for himself and his family, but also for some of the needs of the church.

    After a while, his sending church or a group of churches take him on for support to the degree that he no longer has to work a secular job. My question is, what is his responsibility, then, to the ministry as far as schedule and time spent doing the work of the ministry? In other words, is he ethically bound to be out knocking on doors, preparing messages, visiting prospects 40 hours a week as if he were still working his secular job?

    Now, we all know what he should be doing; my question is, what are the ethics involved in this scenario?
     
  2. Robert William

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    Pastor Bob, do you work in a secular job? I think it's a good thing for a Pastor to work part time.
     
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  3. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob Well-Known Member

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    At my current position I do not have a secular job. I officiate high school basketball for supplemental income.

    When I pastored in Kansas, I built fence, set monuments for a monument company, and built storage sheds for the local lumber yard.

    When I served as assistant Pastor in Illinois, I drove a public school bus as well.

    I don't think it's a bad thing; however, I think it is far more beneficial to the pastor, his family, and the church if the church can support him full-time.
     
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  4. TCassidy

    TCassidy Late-Administator Emeritus
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    Bob, after over 45 years in vocational ministry I don't remember a single week when I only worked 40 hours, with the exception of when I was on vacation.

    Tent making is fine when necessary (Paul did it) but it does subtract from valuable time spent in ministry functions.
     
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  5. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob Well-Known Member

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    No doubt, they are quite rare.

    Yes, sir. I agree 100%

    My question was one of ethics. Is a church planter/pastor ethically bound to spend 'X' number of hours visiting, canvasing, etc when taken on for support? I guess it boils down to, should this man work as many hours in ministry-related activity as he did in secular work now that a church(es) have made it possible for him to not have to work?

    Sadly, I have known young men who have the benefit of full-time support from several churches and yet only visit for a couple of hours a week.

    Edited to add: I am developing a course on Ministerial Ethics for our Bible college.
     
  6. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    The pastor needs to discuss that with the church and work out the expectations of the congregation with the reality of the ministry opportunity.

    If the organization that is financially supporting the pastor has guidelines for that support, the pastor needs to ensure that those guidelines are met, or not accept the financial support.

    (1) There are no secular jobs.
    (2) I wish I had a job that only took 40 hours a week! (I work for an engineering firm.)

    The pastor should meet or exceed the agreed-upon expectations of the congregation and the financial support agency. Moreover, the pastor should work as faithful to Christ above all.
     
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  7. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    First, I'd ask you tease this out a bit further -- as to the distinction of what he should be doing and what is ethical. I guess I'm looking at ethical as doing what you should be doing!
    Taking the scenario as presented, yes, if the preacher is receiving "full-time" support from churches so that he doesn't have to work another job, then it is only ethical that he work "full-time" in the ministry.

    This might create some areas that that could be problematic (including just what is "full-time").

    A forty-hour work week is a worldly construct (though one that most of us Americans can relate to on one level or another). It seems to me that the biblical workweek is six days shalt thou labour. Expecting the preacher to work 40 hours every week can become very legalistic, especially when judging from a distance. Necessity might require a 50 or 60 hour work week for several weeks in succession, then followed perhaps by only a 30 hour work. Legalists might pay little to no attention to the "extra" hours but key in on why the "short" week. Further, the preacher must be careful to rightfully appreciate and "be worthy of" what he receives, but remember that to his own master he standeth or falleth -- and that his master is the Lord and not the supporting churches.

    It is unwise to set up a "bi-vocational" versus "full-time" dispute. It is wrong to approach ministry as something that one always starts out as bi-vocational and then works up to full-time -- or starts out in small churches and works up to big churches. Better to consider "where does the Lord want me for such a time as this" and then be content in whatever state we find ourselves.

    If the preacher is energetic and conscientious, and the supporting churches prayerful cheerful givers -- and they all know they must give an account to God -- they should be able to work through problems that arise. If the ethics has to be enforced, the laborer probably doesn't need to be there and probably isn't worthy of support (though I'm not opposed to encouragement, admonition, second chances, etc., before it reaches that point).
    Bless your heart! May the Lord richly bless you for that!
     
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  8. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob Well-Known Member

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    If he is a church planter, he may not have a congregation.

    Typically, there is no organization or governing body in the circles in which I would run. The church planter would be sent out of a local church and then possibly supported by other church of like faith and practice.

    Explain... My initial response was to disagree but I want to make I understand your viewpoint.
    Absolutely. Sadly, though, many men lack the character and discipline to do so.
     
  9. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    [
    That's quite true. But if there is a congregation that exists, however small, the congregation needs to know what to expect from the pastor and vice versa.

    Sure. But if there are standards, then the pastor should abide by them or not accept the funds.

    All honorable work is holy ministry and worship for the Lord. (Obviously, criminal activity, subjugation of other humans, and promotion of vice is not honorable work.)

    As someone who went to seminary and has a theology degree, I work for an engineering firm and serve the local church in teaching and service. My so-called "secular" employment has always been an area of ministry where I live and work beside people who do not know God. When I was a traditional full-time pastor, unchurched people would not reveal their true selves nor open themselves up to me because they assumed that I did not understand their lives. When you are working in a normal job, with the normal pressures and the push and pull of ethical responsibilities, people know that you are walking the talk and have a vision of how God can work in their lives.

    I have seen many coworkers come to Christ and a large number of them renew their faith because they can see how one can be a disciple of Jesus as well as faithfully serve an employer.

    Yes. The church desperately needs men and women of courage, character and discipline at all levels.
     
  10. gb93433

    gb93433 Active Member
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    He should be making disciples so they can do the work of service and make disciples. It is not his job to do everything. Now that I am not pastoring I work a regular job of at least 50 hours per week building a home, meet with four men each week in one on one discipleship teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded, and lead a home group of eight people.
     
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  11. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    I am curious as to why you believe these are or may be different?
     
  12. Pastor Sam

    Pastor Sam Member

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    I was interested in this thread because I know what he is talking about. Most of my ministry I have served for pennies on the dollar. I wasn't in the ministry for money. I worked cleaning toilets in a circus, I worked in a Speed Lube, I worked in a hardware store as a salesman, and I worked in a grocery store. Every time I worked to help the finances of the church the people took advantage and the more I did the less they did. When I worked a job they expected more from me and less of themselves. They expected me to do all a full time Pastor would do plus work a part time job. That is why so many of the Pastor's in those churches are burnt out and no longer in the ministry.
     
  13. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure I understand what you're asking me.
     
  14. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    Why isn't what we know he is supposed to be doing and the ethics of it the same thing?
     
  15. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob Well-Known Member

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    I guess my statement was a bit presumptuous. Perhaps I should have said, "I know what he should be doing..."

    In my opinion, if a church(es) supports a young man specifically so that he no longer has to work another job, he should be doing the work of the ministry instead of sitting at home doing nothing.

    Many may not necessarily agree with me; that is why I asked about the ethics of it.
     
  16. gb93433

    gb93433 Active Member
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    He should be training others to do the work of ministry. He should be teaching them in such a way that they are able to teach others how to make disciples. His teaching is to be done by word and example.
     
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