Connecting the Dots in an Unconnected World

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How Much is Too Much?

Recently a prominent Mega-Church ministry in Texas has come under scrutiny for perceived excesses in ministerial support. Whether the scrutiny has revealed genuine excesses is another matter. However, allow me to address and issue that seems to be overlooked in the discussions.

It would seem that many of our modern mega-churches have adopted a practice of selecting a board of directors from outside of the congregation. Often these directors are “personal friends” of the pastor. Often this “Board of Directors” wields unilateral power and decision making for the congregation. While this may be a model that is followed by the world, while this model may be perceived to be more efficient, this is not a model historically followed by Baptists.

The historic Baptist model is that of congregational government. That is the congregation is involved through trustees, committees, and/or teams selected from her own congregation in the decision making processes. Congregational meetings, sometimes called business meetings, are conducted on a regular basis. The purpose of these meetings is to provide information to the congregation and to involve the congregation in the more significant decision making processes, such as adopting an annual budget, establishing compensation guidelines and/or specific salary items, leadership benefits, employing leadership, and setting priorities for the congregation. While this process may seem cumbersome to many it provides for genuine transparency and accountability to the congregation (the people who provide the time, talent, and treasure) for the work of ministry in that local congregation.

Each local Baptist congregation should and does determine her own decision making processes. This is also the historic Baptist model. While I am well aware of the abuses of congregational government in Baptist life, I believe it serves as a good protection both for Pastors and other leaders as well as the congregation.

What should a pastor be paid and what benefits should be provided to him are decisions best made by the congregation the pastor serves. Further, it is my belief that they will make that decision either with good, accurate, and verified information or with speculation and innuendo. Whether we like it or not Baptist and all other churches still vote on decisions that are made. They vote with their attendance and their giving. If they attend and give they are voting “YES”. If they cease to attend and give they are voting “NO”. This, also, is the Baptist way.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

Ps 78:72

72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.


Blogger Tom Bryant said...

Congregationalism is, to paraphrase, the worst invention ever, except for all the other forms of church gov't. When you have to bring someone in from one state to legitimize (is that a word?)another ministry, you have lost accountibility.

Good word.

February 18, 2010 at 2:40 PM  

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