I remember way back when I was first hired at Granger that Mark Beeson talked about the importance of attending the church where you work. At first I thought he was joking--I had never heard of anyone working at a church where they did not attend. He told me of several situations where that was unfortunately true. I wrongly assumed it was a dying pattern. In fact, the number of churches I'm hearing about who hire staff members to do "jobs" rather than "ministry" is increasing. Recently I learned of a large church that had a senior-level staff member who attended a different church. He sat on the leadership team, making decisions about starting and stopping ministry programs at a church he did not even attend. I learned of another church where staff members in the accounting department were prohibited from attending the church. I know of another church with a preschool where the teachers do not attend the church--in fact, they even bad-mouth the church to the parents of the children.
I think I know where this comes from. I think pastors have been burned, and so they make policies to reduce potential conflict. Somewhere along the way they had to fire someone, and that person left the church in a huff with all their friends and family members. And so they said, "Never again." They figure it will be easier to manage conflict if the individual doesn't get rooted in the church.
What a miss! I would much rather deal with potential conflict than have staff members who are just doing a job. I want every person on staff to care about the people of the church as much as I do. I want to "do life" with those on staff, walking with them through the ups and downs of life, knowing there are people around them to love them, challenge them and encourage them. I want staff members who handle the money, take care of the facility, lead the kids, and make decisions to do so with high integrity because it's not only their employer--it is also the place where they worship.
It would be easy to slip on this conviction. We are getting ready to open an Early Learning Center. It would be easy to let it run as a school (i.e. "business") within our walls. With about 20 hires in the plan, the case could be made for hiring the best educators in town, regardless of their church affiliation or faith walk. But we have made the decision for this to be high-quality learning center that is faith-based and highly integrated with the ministries of our church. We want teachers who love the church.
But that's just me. What are your thoughts?