worst church idea of the month award

sorry for the days of silence — busy, busy. just flying home from seattle, where i presented the CORE (ys’ one-day training thingy) yesterday. my two kids were with me and we stayed in the home of friends; so it was fun and tiring both.

now, onto the award…

an pastor said to me that he loves to try new things. and the thing he’s trying right now that he thinks is such a good idea? [drum roll, please — and brace yourself]] he’s paying his staff based on how many people, on average, attend the ministries they are in charge of. he grinned as he told me that, for example, one of the pastors has a fairly low monthly salary, because he’s new and his particular ministry is average-sized; but if the ministry reaches x-amount on average, his pay will bump to another level, and at xx-amount, to another level, which is a great salary for their area. he said it’s a great system because it builds self-motivation in automatically.

he waited for my response.

for reasons i won’t go into, it wasn’t the appropriate time for me to begin vomiting on his church carpet, or pummeling him in front of his church-folk. so i grinned an extremely uncomfortable grin and mumbled something like, “well, i don’t know….”

need i even comment here any further? actually, when i found out he used to be the exec pastor of a large church near my house in san diego that is numbers-obsessed, it all made sense.

32 thoughts on “worst church idea of the month award”

  1. Marko, could you please pass on his name or e-mail address so I can tell him personally how repulsive I consider his concept?

  2. hmm. you wanna say um.. what the? but then the other side of me is like.. if those are the kind of staff he wants to have working for him.. maybe they all deserve to be together. ..

  3. Does each new member get a signing-on bonus, too?
    How about incentive bonuses that kick in when a new member starts volunteering? Or when they join the choir?

    I’ll send you some of this if you need.

  4. What an idea, let’s keep the staff in constant agnony about their financial situation; that will make ministry better.

    Well, in the 4 years I have been at my church, I had the largest group of senior’s gratudate last spring and that has had an impact on the size. I guess I’d have to be getting some food stamps or something to make up for the pay I would be losing.

    He should have his pay docked everytime he comes up with a stupid, unsuccessful idea.

  5. Hmm…

    At least he’s willing to admit this.

    How many staff members get surprised at the first review because they didn’t know the field goals up front?

    Still stinks, though… like an expired log of cheese with peanuts on it (what’s up with that, anyway?).

  6. Well must admit to being shocked! Maybe it is being english, but please tell me – why do the staff hang around? They must be happy with the idea (in which case, leave them to it) or are completely insane – just cannot understand who would work under this scheme!!

  7. somebody has to address this kind of thing nationall/globally – it’s tearing churches apart, and wounding really good pastors. leadership really thinks that this kind of thing is real and important. numbers seem to be ‘all’ that matter to them.

    i think you should ‘out’ the guy with an article in CT or leadership journal marko.

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  9. At least he’s honest. Expectations are clear. They are wrong but at least you know what you are getting yourself into.

  10. Another great example of spiritual abuse… taking spirituality to another all-time low. I wonder how much he would of paid Jesus for his paltry 12 disciples and handful of committed followers. Pentecost would have been a huge payday though!

  11. I wouldn’t be so quick to judge the staff with the attitude that they deserve to be there if they took the job. I waited tables for almost a year while searching for my first church. By the end of it, after close calls, disappointments, frustrations, doubts (if God wanted me to be a youth pastor … wouldn’t I be one by now?), I was pretty frustrated. Which is part of the reason why I said yes and rushed into a church where I saw some red flags … but I was so relieved to finally be wanted by a church that I figured God would work it out later. Instead, I got burned.

    The pastor is the problem, the attitude is dispicable … and I feel for the staff that ended up under him.

  12. marko, could it possibly be from that place that i’m thinking of???? i can’t decide wether i feel like spewing the cuss words in my head or what i had for dinner…

  13. Marko, your self restraint is admirable!

    Maybe one of his staff will start a ‘cultural observation’ ministry where they sit in the mall, count the people as they go by, and rake in the cash.

  14. While I have nothing against mega-churches, that is just so wrong. First of all, we want people to feel like people, and not just numbers, or notches in a belt.

    Secondly, who actually likes to go shopping at stores whose employees work on commission? This is basically the situaion that performance-based ministry pay creates, because if every church did this, we’d be clamoring over each other, trying to pull as many bodies in the door as possible.

    This negates the way Jesus operated, with the twelve, who in turn went on to impact the world.

  15. Hmmm…can you say Amway??? I knew you could.

    And they thing Harry Potter is a threat to the church!


  16. Small church pastors get paid less than big church pastors right? If you only have experience with a small church you’re not going to get hired to Pastor a big church and your salary is going to be lower.

    We already pay based on performance; this guy is just making it known. How many of you who pastor a small church now would get a raise if your church grew? How many of you would leave if you didn’t?

    That is what I thought…

  17. I think it would depend actually, Shawn.

    I guess I just look at things like, am I being compensated fairly? What is the church income and ability for compensation? How is this church treating me otherwise?

    In my previous call, I had a stronger attendance in our youth ministry, but compensation was less. (the attendance at youth and young adult groups was equal to about half of worship attendance) People were pleased with my ministry, but compensation was not completely based on performance.

    But you are probably right that if a church has the ability to compensate, but does not, I see that as an issue of how the church feels about my value to them.

  18. Well if that works maybe we should have membership fees for church, that would make people want to put more in so they could get more out. or we could just pay them to come.

  19. I worked for a pastor who had the same philosophy. I think that it is a control issue more than a way to motivate someone.

  20. no one knows that mans heart but god him self maybe he is greedy maybe he ant true to the cause maybe he is selfish or maybe he is at the end of his rope for options to bring the flock in or maybe he is that determand to get the gospal out no one knows his true reason for what he said but him and the lord but who are we to judge him let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

  21. Wow, you have heard that too? I interviewed at a church like that. I think I had the same initial reaction you did. The pastor explained the “pay grade” and told me that based on the size of the youth group my starting salary would be, well lets say it wouldn’t be worth it. In my mind I thought, “It would be better to be a volunteer and least I could have the satisfaction of service.” Forget the fact that the pastor ran the the previous guy out and started the domino effect which really cause the demise of the youth ministry. I guess it would make someone dedicated.

    As you can tell I think it is a poor way the shepherd leadership, so before someone thinks I am just judging the individual let me say, I don’t have a problem with the person rather the philosophy. If a ministry leader (the employee) is being motivated by salary and fear of providing for a himself and family then the Pastor is could actually be encouraging that ministry leader to serve for false reasons.

    I guess though this pastor does have the right, an individual does have a choice despite how poor the idea is.

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