Tuesday, March 11, 2008


In the midst of organized religion's alleged demise in the Western World, and the hotly debated issues relating thereto, here's some things with questions. Just curious what folks are thinking about today:

~While I believe the church is made up of Jesus' lovers and followers and should be administrated even handedly and run the same way -  I'd like to do more at and through my church. But there is no support system provided to help me free up time to do that. Mostly I speak of what to do with Wonderboy in the time I would be participating. There is childcare there. But it is laughably compromised.

Should churches be expected to provide meaningful childcare for members participating in church programs? (ya know, it is an opportunity  for the church to witness to children, just sayin'). And should it be charged?  How do you empower your congregation to help each other in daily life? Or is that no longer the church's business and it's each person unto themselves to squeeze in what they can?

~While it is the entire church who is called to go and make disciples and do Christ's work in the world, not all of us are able to do this full time. So we have paid pastors (ah, you see where this is going?) 

What is the appropriate pay-scale for pastors? Do we fill their pockets to overflowing whether or not the church's business is paid for? Do we expect them to live as paupers, like Christ did, and make them dependent on the congregation for their life? (that would be rather humiliating. But then, is that the point of the call - to be humbled?) Should the measure be to pay them the average of the congregational community's pay to give them an "even footing" in the parish community? Does salary review for pastors turn the church into a secular corporation in terms of management? Would it be fairer to give the pastor a percentage of tithes received (a sales incentive plan!!)? 

What do you all think?

(P.S. It's the birthday of Douglas Adams (1952-2001) today! I will go up to my roof and stick out my thumb later.)


Rev SS said...

Important questions. No easy answers. I do know that no way any church or pastor can live up to everyone's expectations ... AND it's important to hold each other accountable.

I believe that a healthy family system (church included) empowers people to use their gifts in ways that serve the needs of those who are part of that "family"

and it seems to me that too often churches expect pastors to be CEO. I wonder what would happen if pastors were called to be Spiritual Leaders, responsible for overseeing the lives of the people, and person with administrative and management skills was hired to oversee the "business" of the building.

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

I think you could pick something to do that wonder boy could also do.

Also, I know you well enough to know you have no free time.

Quotidian Grace said...

Great questions. Here's my two cents--

Pastor's salaries at a minimum ought to enable the pastor to live in the same community as most of the congregation. Therefore salaries should be higher in areas where housing is more expensive.

Increases in pastor salaries should be tied to the pastor's performance and the financial status of the church just as the salaries of the parishoners are tied to their performance and the financial status of the companies, partnerships or businesses which they work for or own.

As for childcare--it should be offered free of charge for all church committee/session/adult events whenever possible so that the younger adults with families can participate fully in the life of the church. Ditto for presbytery meetings and presbytery-wide events. Whenever possible that child care should be more of a program for the children rather than just babysitting and videos.

Our failure to do this is an important factor in our failure to involve the thirty and forty-somethings in the church.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Yeah, QG, you make a lot of sense here.

Rev SS said...

Do other organizaiton provide free childcare? It sounds good. Could be one of the ways people could use their gifts for the good of the entire "family."

Presbyterian Gal said...

I wonder why child care and corporal family support seems to be turned into such a logistically difficult enterprise.

You have a bulletin board at the church and on the web site. You post the meetings. You start a reminder to people to check the meeting site. Will you be home? Can kids come over and hang at your house? How many? For how long? And let the congregation figure out how to take care of itself.

BookGal said...

I truly believe that kids are the future of most churches. If we don't provide programs that capture their hearts, minds, and spirits, then we will have let them down. I don't think it should be about child care but about spirituality. My church, though small and in financial need, has made it a priority to hire a youth director to provide services to the kids. Sorry to get on my soap box but I feel strongly about the role of youth in our churches.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Yup BG, I totally agree.

And like Quotidian Grace has pointed out, that's probably why the 30 to 40 year olds are staying away. Because for many places it is just child care.

Lorna said...

Could cost of day care be linked to particpation in church events e.g. if there's a women's group and the mothers leave their child(ren) while they attend that - could there be a reduced rate

or indeed while mothers/fathers serve in elders meetings, prepare Sunday school teaching etc.

Or could the women's group rotate so that one or two would play with the kids / do a simple teaching while the others have their study. Week by week. If you can't make it some week- swap with another person. A more confident leader type teamed up with someone who loves kids but who isn't so capable in the teaching department too.

etc etc. Churches do have limited budgets and do rely on volunteer work so much - ... but there must be new and creative ways to do this :)

(we struggle too)

Presbyterian Gal said...

When churches were growing and thriving in the country, (back in the "olden days?"), children were addressed as important beings worthy of attention and spiritual care while parents volunteered at the church. Even if it was crusty old Mrs. MacGillicuty who taught them a Bible story and fed them homemade cookies.

I think that our country has shifted so far into being a consumer driven society, that we tend to look at everything as a commodity. Including children. I don't believe most people do this consciously. I believe it's the arrival after a process of shifting focus to working to have from working to live. I think it's trickled down to how we conduct our churches worship and administration. (though that's a far bigger and grander subject than just this one blog covers).