Monday, December 10, 2007


Yesterday was the voters meeting to determine the annual budget. The congregation has come nowhere close to being able to pay the pastor during 2007. So after much discussion over the past months, it was finally time to make the decision about what to do.

Someone said in passing something about the pastor having been given permission to look for outside employment. This confused me. At the last voters meeting, several people were very vocal about the fact that he was NOT to look for a job. One even said it didn't matter how little we paid him, we needed a full-time pastor and so he would be full-time, even if the pay is $1400 per month. One (only one) maintained that it was unfair to the pastor to pay him a minimum-wage salary and prohibit him from earning additional income. (To be fair, a lot of them sat quietly and didn't choose a side.) After that meeting, the district president told Gary to start job-hunting. Gary also told the elders and the council that he had been advised to apply for secular jobs. But the last the voters assembly heard, the congregation had said "no."

So I asked for clarification.

People thought I was nuts. "We never said that." "I don't remember that being discussed." "Where did you get THAT idea?" I was beginning to wonder if I might truly be going insane and hallucinating, remembering things that I was completely certain of, and finding out that they never happened.

Someone looked in the notes from the last meeting. He found the reference. He read it. "The intent of the congregation is to maintain a full-time pastoral ministry in this place."

Okay. So I wasn't insane. I had remembered correctly. And then came the stunning comment. "SEE? We never said he couldn't look for a job. The INTENT of the congregation was that he remain full-time. But just because it's our intent doesn't mean it's going to happen that way."

I'm still reeling from that one. How can I rely on anything they say?


  1. Well, you can't. They are poor, miserable sinners like you and I. When it comes to money, congregations are weak. Many of the people in leadership at congregations are not used to overseeing money of those $ or of "supervising" and "employee." So our structure really allows for a lot of abuse in that regard.

    Fortunately, the weakness of our sheep points us all the more to the need for our Divine Shepherd, who promises to take care of us, and provide us with our daily bread, but here and in eternity.

    Come, Lord Jesus.


  2. My wife and I have an understanding. She doesn't go to voter's meetings. It is better for her relationship with the people. She would take things as a personal attack. I can let them go more easily. It would hinder her relationship forever with these people and make her bitter. Of what help is it that you go?

  3. Chris, normally I don't go to voters meetings. But you asked "of what help is it that you go?" For the past 16 years, nobody tells us what happened at the budget meeting. We never know if there's been a pay raise or a cut or what perq church has eliminated (so that we need to start paying continuing ed or the phone bill or pastors' conference fees ourselves). When I want to figure up the estimated taxes for the new year, I can't until after we get the January paycheck. Even when we ask, even when we beg to be told the amount, nobody tells us what happened.

    Given that this year it was a matter of whether they were cutting the paycheck by $200/mo, or $1400, or $2000, or more, that's why I went. I wanted to know. I really didn't want to sit around and wonder about that for another 5 weeks.

    And overall, I'm glad I did. Now I don't have just a number that I could extrapolate from the January paycheck. Now I know that at least they're fully aware that they can't meet their obligation to pay the amount they've said they intend to pay. It helps to know that we're all clear on that matter. And it's nice to know that 2/3 of them want to make sure that Pastor's pay isn't cut prior to his finding supplemental income. Of course, they aren't going to be able to keep the commitment, but they're trying to do the best they can until the bottom falls out totally. That's kinda nice to know too.