Rethinking Church Staffing: An Alternative Lay Economist

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : March 14, 2007

Missio Dei is nearing the end of its rebooting process.  For the past few weeks, members of Missio Dei have gathered to explore what it should it “look like” to live out our rule of faith.  On Sunday, we started talking about how we should gather and use finances (and other resources).  In the course of that discussion, we talked about taking on a staff person (fyi, I am not a staff member with Missio Dei anymore, though I don’t feel that my role or influence has changed all that much as a result). 

We haven’t reached a final conclusion, but it seems that everyone is on board with the idea.  The person in question–Josh–will take on a few important roles, but his focus will be on doing the work of an “alternative lay economist” of sorts.  Here’s an excerpt from the job description we’ve been working on:

Flowing from Josh’s passions, he will begin to envision church-based alternative economics. This means that he will coordinate hospitality (He’ll not only coordinate meals and taking folks in, but also distributing resources to those in need. We’ll need to set up a policy for this. As such, Josh will be given the church checkbook, which he’ll need to keep balanced. We’ll need another person to process income). He’ll also spend time “liberating” wasted resources (dumpster diving excursions and the like) and redistribute it. He’ll also research alternative economics, helping us push deeper into a Kingdom lifestyle together—one that demonstrates the Way of Jesus, rather than the Way of Caesar.  This is an open-ended, exploratory, experimantal role that Josh will begin to fill out as he pushes deeper into it. 

Josh will also do some light administrative and communications stuff for Missio Dei, as well as volunteering in the community.  All of this amounts to a part time job for which he’ll need to raise support.  I’m going to explain the rationale for this ministry position in a future post, but for now I’m interested in hearing your thoughts…

for further reading . . .

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4 Responses to “Rethinking Church Staffing: An Alternative Lay Economist”

  1. graham on March 14th, 2007 5:32 pm

    My initial thinking is that it’s far too much for one person to do.

    However, I am cheered by the example of a church that is willing to finance someone who is not a leader, in the sense we’d normally understand that word.

    Praying for your guys as you come to the end of this process.

  2. espiritu paz on March 14th, 2007 10:23 pm

    Two things:
    Since I hear you are all getting sick again, alternative approaches to paying for medical expenses could come under alternative economics.

    And I think you should refer to the way of Nebuchadnezzar instead of the way of Caezar, because then you could evoke that blank stare a bit more often.

    Actually, I was processing ahead a bit on the shared pot concept. What you will very quickly find is once money (symbol of old regime stakeholder interest–to which we all still have ties to) is put in a collective pot–people will very quickly have strong feelings about what that money gets invested in. And if they don’t, they are often holding back their feelings about it. It forces the situation where everyone will have to work toward agreement if it is to succeed. There is usually a strong urge to split because it’s the path of least resistance.
    Think about it. What if the shared pot were to support your book projects–your book projects would come under the critical eye of the community. Everyone would have to have the freedom to say yes or no and if they said no–you (plural) would have to work through why not. It could be really affirming or purging or just plain old hurtful.

  3. Cullen on March 15th, 2007 3:51 pm

    It’s a welcome change from standard church staffing. Most traditional church staff members are either ministers (i.e.; doing the church’s work in place of its members) or administrators (i.e.; doing the extra work that comes with having a church of cumbersome, community complicating size). It seems that Josh will be doing a different kind of work that would require a good deal of time and that his community would benefit from enough to want to compensate him.

    Maybe you should post the job description on, just to see what happens. I guess you’d also have to stipulate that all applicants be named ‘Josh.’

  4. dlw on March 18th, 2007 5:42 pm

    Perhaps you could specify that all applicants be Joshua/Yeshua-like…


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