I want to ask this question.   Does the Church considers youth, children’s and families workers to be WORTH the salaries that are being set aside to pay them?

I love a bit of Sam Smith, in one of his recent songs there are these lyrics,

I don’t have money on my mind, money on my mind.  I do it for, I do it for the love.

When I started out in youth ministry, these sentiments were the kind of thing drummed in to me . . . sacrifice, it’s not about the money, yes you are paid . . . but you don’t actually just “work” your hours, you are never off duty so the pay is you know, more of a gesture than an accurate reflection of what your work might actually be worth . . .

Well, so much to say on all of that – but this isn’t a blog about the theology of service and what calling does or does not require of us – it is simply a place to start as I look at a glaring inconsistency that exists and nobody, but nobody seems willing to talk about it – never mind actually address it.  So, I look forward to the blog stats for this post being in the low single digits 😉

Anyway, here we go then ::

I have looked at three national church sites : Anglican, Baptist and Methodist.  I have focused on the areas on those sites that are dedicated to “lay” ministry (i.e. not ordained to the diaconate or priesthood) and then compared the “guidelines” found there with the “rules” for those who ARE ordained – who, by virtue of that distinctive calling being recognised and then bestowed – receive what is known as a stipend.

Now, I would argue that ALL salaried workers involved in children’s, youth and family ministry – again by virtue of that role and their calling to exercise it are also (alongside those receiving stipends) “ministers of religion”.  IF, as a children’s, youth and families minister there is a genuine occupational requirement for you to “be a Christian”, then it stands to reason that a significant proportion of your time is spent teaching, equipping, training, nurturing faith developing and using christian resources . . . much like someone who has a stipend.

However, there is one glaring and significant difference in most cases between having a “stipend” and being ordained when working for Baptist, Methodist or Anglican churches and being salaried . . .

That difference is called a house.

Across the three denominations, the stipend amount giving as a national figure is somewhere between £22 – £24K.  In addition to this stipend comes the accommodation.  Which – in most cases – also includes water rates and council tax being paid . . . In the Church of England a “requirement” for the accommodation is a four bedroom house and a study . . .

You can pretty much forget that if you are a salaried worker.  You might find that your PAY is about the same as an ordained person’s salary . . . BUT, minus the house, minus the rates for water and council tax.

It is no surprise that some churches struggle to appoint children’s, youth and families workers . . .

If you have been doing ministry for a few years and don’t already OWN property . . . you are pretty much stuffed.  You will need to hunt for the extremely rare salaried posts that are over £35K – not because you want a big pay packet and reckon yourself . . . but without signifiant allowances to enable you to live in proximity to the local church where you are going to work . . . well, it just is not affordable to up and move family and then spend half your (roughly equivalent to a stipend) salary on rent.

AND, if you are considering buying something instead . . . where exactly COULD you work for the church if you are trying to find a mortgage when your salary is £25K?  Back in the 1970s you might have managed it . . . but, today – rather than houses being three times a salary . . . they are more like TEN times a salary.

So, this is a question for the Church . . . is stipendiary and ordained ministry more valuable to the Church than the salaried ministry of those called to work with children, young people and families?

If it is more valuable – then when you are done with making it impossible for anyone who isn’t ordained to get involved in full time ministry life at a local church and you wonder where they have all gone . . . well, I guess go and have a read of Ephesians 4 and think again.

If it is not – then can we sort out this huge discrepancy in the renumeration package please?  Thanks.