When pastors get the pink slip

Churches often demand a tremendous amount of loyalty from their pastoral staff. Working extremely long hours for very low pay and anemic health care benefits are just some of the sacrifices most pastors make in the name of “doing the Lord’s work.”

But when declining church attendance and a global economic crisis both leave their dent in church collection plates, often times churches aren’t able to (or are unwilling to) show their staff that same loyalty. And a growing number of pastors across the country are finding themselves unemployed. Adding insult to injury is the fact that their church’s tax-exempt status keeps them from qualifying for unemployment benefits, making the layoffs hit families in the ministry even harder.

When layoffs and cutbacks reach beyond the corporate world, and extend into the everyday life of our congregations, what opportunities arise for us to rethink the way we go about “doing business” in the church?

With declining numbers in the pews, is the answer for today’s churches to find ways to create new revenue streams?

Or might we do better to consider ways we can become less dependent on revenue?

(ht: Christianity Today)

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6 thoughts on “When pastors get the pink slip

  1. my boss is a pastor of a small charamatic fellowship with his messianic rabbi wife. so, i guess he does his full time social work job and then does the ministry on the side / weekends, and takes off days needed for ministry. idk, i haven’t asked, i’m just guessing. that’ll probably become more commonplace.

    1. I know a ton of “lay pastors.” Mostly these folks are church planters or pastors of smaller congregations.

      What would be some of the advantages the role of pastor not being someone’s full-time gig? Both for the individual, and for the church.

      Also, what would be the disadvantages for both parties?

  2. We just lost our pastor because in the 18 months they had been here they had no interest in there house in another state. They could no longer maintain 2 homes.

  3. Actually, my pastor had a thought on this. He said that if he were to start a church fresh he would NOT make it non-profit. This way the church could set up business(es) to sustain itself and make it more possible for the church to give to other areas and make improvements. My only thought on this is; Would it cause the congregation to feel that they no longer should give?

    1. I work for a not-for-profit that provides health care services to the community. To provide revenue for our services we operate several “businesses” such as a handful of manufacturing operations, thrift stores, etc.

      I know of a church in Indiana that owns and operates a coffee shop in the city. It provides revenue for the church as well as serving as a place where church members and staff can connect with people in a “non-religious” setting in the city.

      Non-profits can operate businesses to generate revenue to support their mission. This includes churches as well.

  4. About 20 years ago when my father was a pastor, their church had a thrift store as well that helped bring in income for the church. At that time the economy was suffering too, so this helped bring in profit for the church when the same issues that we are dealing with now(low attendance and less offering)was happening. This way the church was still able to survive the tough times, and like you said the members and staff were connected with people outside the church in a “non-religious” setting. Its really sad that the economy affects not only how much people are giving, but more so how many people are just choosing not to go to churches any more. (based on the economy, not those who have other reasoning)

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