Never Pay $25 an Hour for $7 an Hour Work
by Josh Hunt

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Leadership is not about doing so much as it is about coaching. It is not about doing so much as it is about getting others to do. For all churches, this involves volunteers. In a medium sized church and up, this involves staff.

Staff need the same things volunteers need. They need encouragement, support, and space. Occasionally they need correction. They need you to say thank you. They need you to go to bat for them and support them. They need to feel that their boss in in their corner. They need the freedom to operate and expand their own creativity.

Beyond the needs of individual staff members, pastors need to think systemically about staffing in general. We need to do some philosophical thinking about what we pay people to do and we expect volunteers to do. What kind of work is $25 and hour work and what kind of work is $7 an hour work. This chapter is not intended to give all the answers. It will attempt to ask the right questions.

Never pay someone $25 and hour to do what you can get done for $7 an hour. Most of what is called ministry can be done for $7 an hour. There is precious little around a church that really requires a seminary degree and a $25 and hour employee.

This is not to suggest that we pay our pastors or staff less. Far from it. Perhaps one of the best ways to get competent people in any profession is to offer an attractive salary. Should pastor's be motivated by money? Not overly so, that is called sin. But there is nothing wrong with preferring having money over having none. Paul said he had learned to be content with out without money. He never said he didn't have a preference for having money. I have discovered that life is generally more pleasant with money. It is not as important as health and love and purpose and peace of mind and all the rest. But, all things being equal I prefer having money to not.

If I had two similar job opportunities and one offered substantially more money than the other, I would take the one that offered more money. I can't see where that is wrong. I think most pastors would do the same. That is why paying a little more to your pastor may be one of the easiest ways to attract top shelf leadership. Top shelf leadership will always pay for itself. If I were on the personnel committee I would want to pay my pastor and staff so well that they would be embarrassed not to do their jobs. I would also carefully define their jobs so that I was never paying a $25 employee what I could get a $7 employee to do.

Here are several questions a church needs to ask relating to who we should pay and what they should do.

What kind of work do we need $25 and hour, full time, professionally trained professionals to do?

What can we get done for free?

What kind of work can we get done with $7 an hour administrative assistants?

Consider the following chart. Write $25, $7 or free by each of the following items.

Preparing and leading music for worship  
Directing the choir  
Working in the nursery  
Supervising the workers in the nursery  
Overseeing Christian Education  
Playing piano  
Playing an additional keyboard such as a synthesizer  
Secretarial work  
Singing in the choir  
Teaching Sunday School  
General administration  
Purchasing the toilet paper  
Vacuuming the floor  
Recruiting Sunday School teachers  
Training Sunday School teachers  

I hope you see from working through this chart that the way in which we make these decisions is largely arbitrary. It is either based on 1) we have always done it that way, or, 2) First Church pays their piano player and so must we. We need to think more clearly than that.

I cannot tell you what positions need to be paid what. I can invite you to think outside the lines and see how many tasks you can get done in the $7 column rather than the $25 column.

You may can pay someone $7 an hour to do children's ministry and end up with better children' ministry than when it was being done by your $20 an hour Minister of Education.

You may can handle much of the administration of Christian Education with people who are paid $7 and hour and are well trained every year.

Much of your administration may can be cone by a retired administrator that will work for a dollar a year if you give him a secretary and a fast computer. Politically, it will be difficult for you to hire a secretary and buy a computer for a $1 a year retired administrator. Church's are not used to thinking outside the lines. We don't hire secretaries for people who are really volunteers.

If you will have lunch on a regular basis with a elderly retired pastor he will do a lot of your pastoral care for you. This is a high leverage lunch.

These are just a few of the example of things that can be done far less expensively than we have ever imagined.

In 19*** wrote a book entitle re-engineering the organization. Their premise was simple, though sweeping in its application: There are many times when we are working on getting slight, incremental changes when we need to be working toward sweeping, major-overhaul changes. Churches need to consider the same thing. There are times when a 10% increase in productivity is not enough. Those times are when 300% is possible.

There are two places where churches can make enormous savings in money. One is in the multiple use of their buildings. We can cut the amount we spend on buildings by 75% of more if we will simply accept the multi-congregation paradigm. This will be discussed in the next chapter. We can save a similar amount of money by off-loading much of what goes on in the name of professional ministry to $7 ministry assistants. If you ever see your Minister of Education stuffing envelopes, ask him, "Are you trying to be humble, or did you just plan so poorly as to have to do this yourself?"

Never pay someone $25 an hour to do $7 and hour work.

20 Questions

1. Who do you encourage this past week?

2. What letters did you dictate this week?

3. Did anyone purchase a dictaphone this week?

4. How are things better in your church now than they were three months ago?

5. How have your communication/preaching skills improved?

6. How have your people skills improved?

7. How has your faith increased? What goals are in place at your church?

8. Do you agree with the idea that we ought to pay pastors as much as we can? Is this greed?

9. What success have you had in getting volunteers to do work often done by professionals?

10. What are the problems with getting work done by volunteers that is usually done by professionals? How can these problems be addressed?

11. Philosophically, how do you decide what work we need to hire done and what work can be done by professionals?

12. Do you pay your piano player? Why?

13. If you had a contemporary service and had a band, would you hire the drummer, keyboard player and bass player? Why?

14. Do you pay your nursery workers? Why?

15. Do you pay your bookkeeper? Why?

16. Do you pay the person who administrates your preschool? Why?

17. What is the reason behind the reason? On what basis are these decisions made?

18. Do you agree with the philosophy, "Never pay someone $25 an hour to do $7 an hour work."

19. If your church doubled in size in the next 5 years, how would you expand the staff? What volunteers would you use? What $7 and hour people would you use?

20. What biblical principles are at work in making these decisions?