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Linked Post: Do You Own That? Ethical Considerations For Church Workers

Linked Post: Do You Own That? Ethical Considerations For Church Workers

Adam McLane is one of the co-founders of The Youth Cartel and a really fascinating voice in the world of youth ministry. You can always count on him for a fresh take, or a new angle on a subject. 

In this article, Adam tackles a really, really important issue, one that I bet MOST youth workers don't often think about. 

Below is a snippet of Adam's post with a link to the original article below. I would STRONGLY encourage you to click through to Adam's post and read the rest, especially the section about intellectual property. (I am willing to bet there is a large number of youth workers selling their content on the web who don't own the copyright to it!)

“Make sure you know who owns what.” 

I remember Bob MacRae, my undergrad advisor, telling that to a class full of youth ministry majors about the stuff that you acquire and produce as part of your job.

This brought up ethical questions like:

  • If you buy a book from your youth ministry budget, does it belong to you or the church?
  • If you buy decorations for your office with a church allotment, is that yours or does it belong to the church?
  • If you write a book while on staff based on your experiences at your church, about your ministry, or even church equipment/time… does that income go to you or the church?
  • What about if you speak at a camp or conference?
  • What about your talks, the media you create, the materials you produce?

Who owns that stuff?

I find there are three probabilities about these questions for most people in youth ministry:

  1. On rare occasions, an employment contract or employee policy stipulates the answers to these questions.
  2. It’s never been talked about, no one really knows or seems to care, and the staff kind of operates in an ad hoc fashion, copying what another person on the team has done.
  3. It has been talked about but never been put in writing. And it seems like one set of rules applies to the senior pastor and another set of rule applies to everyone else.

Something on the side

A few years back I had lunch with the head of a big marketing company. This is a guy who works with a lot of churches but isn’t really a church person. He asked, “I’ve noticed that nearly every pastor has a side business, why is that?”

In truth, I’d never thought about it, but it’s absolutely true. Whether it’s a business outside of ministry, a speaking ministry, or a blog… lots and lots of church workers have side income. 

Why is that? If I had to guess, it’s based in two pressing and unspoken realities for all church workers.

First, they are underpaid for long-term careers. A driving force for creating/owning YMX was that it provided a few thousand extra dollars in income that I legitimately needed just to keep up with inflation. Second, job insecurity is a real thing in every church role. There isn’t a pastor in America who can say they know with absolute certainty that they’ll have a job in ministry in August 2014. Every single person can get run out of their church… quickly. Having something on the side is simply wise.

Stuff to Know (. . .)

CLICK HERE to head over to Adam's blog and read the rest of the article.

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