Is Your Church a Family Franchise?

Church Franchise

Has your church transmogrified into a family business franchise? It happens all too often: for no denomination is completely immune to this disease (and independent churches appear to be quite susceptible.)

But don’t panic: help is at hand! The process of becoming a church franchise follows an easily discoverable pattern: key features of which are described below. Anyone can use the following points as a checklist to identify whether their church is turning into another family-run and operated business franchise. So how does your church stack up?

1. Nepotism.

Churches have a small number of remunerated positions and an infinite number of volunteer positions. The latter are fobbed off as “rewards” to energetic church members: but the former are zealously reserved for the pastor’s family members, relations, and closest friends. Whenever you notice salaried position becoming available: note carefully to whom the job is awarded. Nepotistic appointments are quiet affairs – made without advertising or drawing attention to the fact – until public announcement of the fait accompli.

When speaking of “renumeration” we refer to more than mere salaries: petrol allowance, phone allowance, and expense accounts are common types of additional renumeration awarded nepotistically.

2. Group Think.

Group-think is strongly encouraged in family franchise churches. Just as in any family business, open dissension is costly and is therefore avoided. One common reaction is to endlessly circulate propagandist-mantras such as “our church must be of one mind”. Public discussion of real issues is strenuously resisted to protect: the pastor’s freedom of action, the pastor’s income and system of patronage.

Church members who disagree with what their church is doing retain only their right to “vote with their feet”: and many do just that.

3. Financial summaries.

Church financial summaries are glossy, positive, and absent of any detail. Externally audited financial statements are impossible to come by: either they do not exist, or they are seen only by salaried staff. Detailed questions from church members are discouraged: avoided, dodged, or glossed over. Congregational meetings – if required – are always used to divert attention away from: who is getting paid how much to do exactly what.

It is fascinating to note how church family business franchises consistently ignore all accountability towards the people who actually pay their weekly salaries!

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