The Utilisation of Staff and Volunteers in Churches. A Social Concern Essay

I’ve been in church leadership roles from the time I came to know Christ in my late teens. It’s been a wild 22-year ride, and I want to keep riding – albeit with less falling off, being shot at and running the horse into the ground.  The thing is, that stats show that being in church-based ministry can be very hazardous to your well-being, not to mention the well-being of your family. 27th June was PTSD Awareness Day. One recent study has indicated higher rates of PTSD among church workers than post-service soldiers.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve been privileged to journey alongside many church leaders and volunteers through prayer counselling and pastoral care training across Australia. I’ve seen the good, bad and the (very) ugly. I’ve sat through years of tears, frustration, pain, heartache, disappointment and grief. All of which were a result of people being staff or volunteers in local churches. It’s been sobering and taxing work, as some of you may know.

I believe the reasons behind many people turning away from church-based service and employment today is vast, but that is not to say that we should not talk about the herd-of-elephants in the chapel. We cannot blame a single issue or person. And I refuse to simply say ‘it is the enemy!’ Because it’s just not that simple, plus that minimises our collective need for repentance and grace.

A few years ago I released a teaching around some of the spiritual and psychological aspects of church-wounding in a series called Out of the Tombs which was helpful. But recently, I wrote an essay as part of a university leadership degree I am completing, which looks at some common issues from a moral and governance perspective.

Some friends read the essay and encouraged me to share it publicly. I feel the time is right. I’ve done my best to make it user-friendly without sacrificing its integrity as an academic, research-based reflective piece. It’s a 10-minute read (3,000 words). As it is a business ethics essay, it’s not light reading, but you too might find the researched view, a helpful and validating one – just as I did.

You can download the essay in PDF format here.

I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments or by email to david@leaderheart.org

BTW, the essay received a Distinction, so my academic friends need not point out my shortcomings. I got that feedback already 😉

*Featured photo: Ben White – Unsplash

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