This problem came up a lot in Korea as many western teachers complained all the time about not receiving their contracted salaries on time. Some went months without receiving any pay at all. It is not a pleasant feeling. Employers should pay their employees a just and fair wage, especially Christian ones. The Christian employer represents Christ and if they value money over their employees’ contribution then they run the risk of turning their employees off of Christ and the Christian life.
The bigger picture here is that those caused to stumble may not be just the employees of the Christian employer. There are more people involved. These people are what can be called the silent and invisible observers who are made up of the family, friends and acquaintances of those employees. These people may not have any contact with the Christian employer but they are well acquainted with their practices and what the Christian does to their employees is well-known to them all.
The Christian ‘witness’ may be and is marred by the employers actions making it tough for other believers to make an impact for Christ. But this aspect of paying a salary is not the focus of this post. The focus of this post is on those Christian organizations who force their employees to raise their own support. Due to certain circumstances, I have had to apply to different Christian organizations for employment and I have done this on two different occasions.
So far a couple of these have written back that I need to raise my own support, one in the most recent round of applying for employment. I stated in that application that I could not entertain any employment if I needed to raise my own support. That letter was sent to 8 organizations and at this writing only 1 has responded with the following words
I’m sorry but all of our opportunities do require you to raise your own support, we do not have any employment opportunities.
The other 7 have not responded yet, so I can conclude that they have not had time to read their mail or they are raise your own support type ministries.
These type of ministries are sad for several reasons. One. they place an undue hardship upon the friends, families and strangers contacted by the person wanting to work for those type of organizations. Those people already have enough bills of their own to take care of and adding part of the monthly salary of a Christian worker can be too much. This should not be expected by the Christian organizations.
Two, this type of financial support is not biblical instructed. Yes Paul worked as a tent maker but that example was not presented to us in the form that every Christian should follow suit. If you notice that in the OT, God provided for his priests and did not tell them to go and raise their own support to work in his service.
Three, the employer is abdicating his or her responsibilities to pay their workers. The Bible tells us that a worker is worthy of his hire and we can apply that verse in a couple of ways, including that they are deserving their pay. Even the biblical example of the owner of a field has him offering a wage to those he hired. It is unfair to demand that an employee pay their own salary. The employer should be counting his costs and including salary in that figuring and make sure he or she has enough money to cover the expenses related to having employees.
Fourth, this type of employment allows for the employer to avoid their civil fiscal responsibilities. In other words they provide no benefits to their employees as required by the government for other types of employers. This failure to contribute to these benefit structures is also unfair as it gives the Christian a free ride while others bear the burden of providing contributions to government programs, including taxes.
No, we disagree with this type of employment practice for it is dishonest and unfair to the people called of God into a certain type of ministry. The churches and para-church organizations should be like God and making sure the monetary needs of their employees are met instead of finding excuses to get slave labor or free labor.
Yes, slave labor is exactly what these organizations offer under the guise of ‘doing something for God’. They certainly are not following the example of God and they certainly are not taking the burden of ownership upon their shoulders but placing it on the shoulders of those they hire. It is wrong to do this.
If the para-church organization cannot survive without this type of arrangement then they need to question their own calling, their business skills or return to the umbrella of the church and receive money through scriptural means. They should not be demanding that their own employees support themselves. If I had the financial support that they require, I would not need to seek employment from them. We would not be selling our DVDs or other personal items to raise the money we need to meet our debts and obligations
Christians need to set a better example than the unchurched world especially when it comes to employment opportunities. Other believers should not be seen as a free labor pool existing only to serve the Christian employer. Believing in God does not mean that the Christian work is not deserving of a guaranteed, fair salary nor is God to be seen as someone who picks up the slack.
When one takes a long look at modern Christian practices then they see why the modern Church does not make a greater impact for God. Their behavior is worse than those they are trying to save. We really do not have much to be proud of when we treat our own kind worse than unbelievers treat them.
Faith includes being paid fairly and by our employers. It does not mean we work for free.