Over the past few years, I’ve kept a record of things that have caused controversy in churches with whom I’ve been acquainted. Perhaps these things won’t surprise you, but here are 10 of them. I’d love to hear your thoughts about any one of them:
- Pastoral access to giving records of members. Some folks believed the pastor should have no such access, but others argued he must in order to shepherd the flock toward obedience. More and more churches are taking the second position.
- “Term limits” on volunteer positions. Many churches have a rotation system for some positions (e.g., deacons, trustees), but not for the majority of workers. Imagine the questions when church proposed that all volunteers take scheduled time off to renew their hearts.
- Auditions for choir members and soloists. This practice that is typical of larger churches is apparently influencing smaller churches as well. Frankly, I wish we had auditioned some of the singers in the first church I pastored. . . . .
- Doing away with “come forward” altar calls. I’ve written about different types of “invitations” we’re seeing, but the struggle in this case related to tradition. The church had always done it that way, and dropping the “invitation” felt wrong.
- Administrative assistants who are also church members. When the pastor decided to go outside the church for an administrative assistant, members didn’t understand his reasoning. Arguments for and against this position are numerous, and I encourage you to check them out.
- Church discipline of a long-term church member. Most churches have not done church discipline in many years, and many who have didn’t do it well. In this case, both issues were in play: this case was the first one the church had faced in years, and they didn’t handle it well.
- Family members of the pastor on the church staff. Two of them, in fact. This arrangement led to all kinds of problems.
- Not reporting individual staff salaries in the church budget. The church had been accustomed to knowing every salary. When the new pastor changed the process, some members felt he was hiding something.
- Allowing non-believers and non-church members to serve in the church’s ministries. Granted, the church doesn’t allow them to serve in teaching positions, but they do give them other opportunities so they might get connected. Some members, however, stood against this practice.
- Inviting children of a different race into the children’s program. I’m afraid that ungodly prejudice still exists in some churches.
What are your thoughts on any of these issues?