From around the globe, people tune in on Fletch’s warm and sound advice. He’s a friend and “church doctor,” bringing an objective perspective, broad knowledge and vast experience. Your question will get a personal reply from Fletch.
Hey Fletch … Are there any limits to the questions we can ask in a reference call? I ask because I used to work for a para-church organization and was involved in hiring a few times. One of my supervisors used to say that he gets around any illegal questions by asking the references those questions … because everything is free game with a reference. I wanted to check and see if […]
Hey Fletch … I have a question about hiring a new staff member. I am the lead pastor at my church and have never been on this side of the hiring process. I know that there are questions which are illegal to ask applicants under the equal opportunity employment act (such as I can’t ask if they are married or have a family). My understanding that churches are bound by this law […]
Hey Fletch … After 60 years of our church’s history, 28 years on the pastoral staff, our leadership has granted a 12-week sabbatical for our Senior Pastor. We have the material and suggestions on how he and we should approach the sabbatical to benefit him most. My question is, do you have any suggestions on how we as leadership should approach this time with the absence? Any best ways for all (XP, […]
Hey Fletch … An article on XPastor mentions a doctoral dissertation by Dr. Art Hunt, I Never Expected This Would Happen To Me. I would be very grateful if you could let me know how I can contact Dr. Hunt for a copy of his dissertation. I am a social psychologist working on bullying in churches and religious groups. With many thanks for your help. There is much more happening in the […]
Hey Fletch … Our church is processing what I learned at the workshop on Smart Money for Church Salaries. We are trying to come to grips with part-time employees not being able to volunteer in their areas of ministry. One of our pastors is blind and we hired a part-time assistant that helps with the parts of the job that are not possible due to the disability. This assistant also volunteers […]
Hey Fletch … We are beginning to think about interns for the summer. Can we pay an intern a monthly salary and have them work as many hours as needed?
DRF—Interns are rarely exempt employees. If they were exempt by job function (doing management activity) and salary (making over $23,660 for federal salary levels and higher in many states), then your interns could work as many hours as they want to. However, the […]
Hey Fletch … I recently hired a PEO to handle most of our HR services. On the first two payrolls they issued, they collected federal and state unemployment tax. Historically, we had never paid that. After some research, it seems as though our church is exempt from federal unemployment tax and has the option of paying state unemployment tax.
I realize we may “mitigate” the risk of an unemployment claim by paying the […]
Hey Fletch … I’m wondering if our non-exempt staff can put in extra hours during an emergency. Do they have to be paid for this? I found this online as it references “emergency relief capacity.”
If individuals volunteer to a private, not-for-profit organization, are they entitled to compensation?
Individuals who volunteer their services in an emergency relief capacity to private not-for-profit organizations for civic, religious or humanitarian objectives, without contemplation or receipt of […]
Hey Fletch … At the SoCal Smart Money for Church Salaries workshop, I noticed that the title Associate Pastor did not come up. You mostly mentioned the titles of SP, XP, Pastor and Assistant Pastor. Is the title of Associate Pastor from the past akin to the Pastor title in your research?
DRF—In the 1960’s and onward, the title of associate pastor became common. Most churches had one pastor. When a second […]
Hey Fletch … If a church requires its ministry staff to attend a course, such as a discipleship class, after hours, 3 hours a week for 12 weeks, is the church required to pay them for their hours? Is it the same for all classes of employees?
DRF—The answer is “yes.” The church must pay for any work hours and this required class would be work.
Hey Fletch … I am new to being an XP and to the XPastor.org website. I’m so glad to have found it. I am very interested in the Smart Money for Church Salaries workshops. Do you do them every year? Will there be new sites in 2019?
DRF—Congratulations on your new role! XPastor is here to help. The workshops for “Smart Money for Church Salaries” have concluded. We did video record the Atlanta […]
Hey Fletch … Thank you for your earlier response to my question about how our church is paying salaried people for the number of hours worked. My church leaders are insisting we hired someone as an exempt hourly employee. We therefore do not need to pay them a fixed amount per paycheck but rather the hours they have worked. At this point I am about to drop the issue as it’s not […]
Hey Fletch … Our church has a preschool with part-time teachers. We have been treating them as exempt employees, as they are teachers. They don’t get paid for working after hours, home visits or for the Christmas play rehearsals. Are we legal?
DRF—In a word, no. You are not “legal.” Generally preschool teachers are not seen in the same category as credentialed teachers.
The topic has been widely debated and the Department of Labor […]
Hey Fletch … I hope your ongoing national workshop tour with Smart Money for Church Salaries is going well. I have a question for my church. We have a part-time hourly administrative assistant in the office. I hear they are often working more hours than they are actually putting on their time card. I believe in for-profit businesses this is against the rules. Is that the case for the church? By allowing […]
Hey Fletch … We have a full-time youth pastor and a part-time youth administrative assistant. We have a youth retreat coming up and we are trying to figure out how to pay or not pay for our PT admin to go on the retreat. What are the laws and best practices for PT workers at camps and retreats?
DRF— This is a humdinger of a question and a challenging topic. Your employee is […]
Hey Fletch … For exempt workers, is it required that they receive a regular salary payment, independent of the number of hours they work? If they work under 40 hours, we currently pay however many hours they work. We don’t pay overtime if they work over 40 in a week since they’re exempt. I thought that an exempt worker would receive a regular, set payment. Can we pay them a varying amount […]
Hey Fletch … Do you have any articles that deal with pastors doing freelance work? This might be coaching or consulting that is outside of their formal church work. How does this relate to creating healthy kingdom policies from an HR/staff handbook perspective? Thanks!
Hey Fletch … As a Senior Pastor of a new and growing church, I have a staff member leaving. The role is the 10 hour a week, director of the worship services. Can you review the transition plan? I have laid out five steps: 1) Collect and review resumes/references of those interested, 2) Interview 2-3 people, 3) Make a final decision, 4) The new person begins and learns from the person leaving, […]
Hey Fletch … Hey I have a first interview for a position on Friday. Any tips? What kind of preparation should I do? What questions should I ask them?
DRF—Before I drafted my thoughts, I did a web search on “first impressions.” There is a ton of good material on the subject. I especially liked that the Dale Carnegie course said: “Never underestimate the value of a smile. The first time you […]
Hey Fletch … I believe I’m clear on the minister’s housing allowance designation. What about a car allowance? We have a new employee who says ministers can claim a car allowance that’s much like a housing allowance. I’ve not heard of that. Is it something we can leverage for our ministerial employees? Thanks!
DRF—A car allowance is essentially a taxable bonus. No documentation is needed because it is a bonus. There is nothing […]
Hey Fletch … I am looking for some advice on health insurance for my team. We provide a high deductible plan for our employees and have contributed a percentage of the deductible into a HSA on behalf of each employee. We got quotes last week for this coming year’s insurance premiums. They went up 123% from this year and will cost the church $140,000 more than last year. Needless to say we […]
Hey Fletch … I am confused about exempt and nonexempt employees. My understanding is that an employee paid an hourly rate is not exempt. Are there exceptions? I’m under the impression our employee “Ann” would be eligible for overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a one-week time period. But my manager is telling me that’s not true.
My manager replied that it depends not only on hours, but also on […]
Hey Fletch … I am a full time associate pastor and am applying for an apartment that is part of the SMART Housing program, a kind of government assisted, affordable housing program. The city requires verification of income to qualify applicants. I receive a housing allowance from my church that is not categorized as taxable income. Without counting the housing allowance as part of my income, I fall within the income requirements […]
Hey Fletch … I just resigned as Senior Pastor. Unfortunately the situation here has become unworkable. The most caring choice I can make is to move on to give a chance for a new senior pastor to bring a fresh start. Can you read my resignation letter and listen to the video? You have been a big help to me over the last six months and I deeply appreciate your advice. Can […]
Hey Fletch … I have a guy who has asked about HR functions and their integration with software like Church Community Builder. Do you know of processes for reviews, strategic plans, job descriptions or other HR functions built into CCB?
DRF—Generally church databases have limited resources for HR functions. The role of the church database focuses on other areas. My experience is that “all in one packages” are like the old adage—“Jack of […]
Hey Fletch … Our Senior Pastor is in trouble. He has been at the church for most of his working life and wants to retire. He can’t afford it. He has $300,000 in a 403b and opted out of Social Security years ago.
At his high point, he earned over $200,000 a year. In the last decade he earned over $140,000 a year. Lately, the church hasn’t been doing well and he has […]
Hey Fletch … We are developing a salary matrix where each tier of employment has ranges from low to max. I have been working on this, but wanted to know if there were tools or companies that do this for churches. Do you know of anyone who could help? Our Compensation Committee desires an outside organization to conduct the review.
Hey Fletch … Do you have a resource or a template for writing job descriptions?
DRF—In churches there are three types of job descriptions. They can all look fairly similar, but need to contain specific data points.
For non-exempt staff, the job description must align with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These employees must document their time, take rest and meal breaks, etc. The job description doesn’t need to show the FLSA […]
Hey Fletch … I’m really looking forward to the Smart Money for Church Salaries workshop! Perhaps you’ll cover this there, but can you share insight into how churches in affluent areas are handling housing costs, especially for new staff members who move into the area? Here in our region, the median home price is $1,000,000. This has made it especially difficult to hire folks who are new to this crazy real […]
Hey Fletch …I am a new XP to the church I serve and staff evaluations are coming up. My previous experiences at churches are either too formal (a graded scale, points assigned to tasks, overly specific goals) or too relaxed (“so, how did the last year go, Bob?”). Do you have a template or resource to help me frame staff evals this fall?
Hey Fletch … I have a question about rising medical costs for employers. There are several Christian-based health cost-sharing ministries, such as MediShare, Christian Healthcare Ministries, and Samaritan Ministries. On the surface they do not qualify as a group plan to meet the requirements of the ACA for employers with 50+ employees. At least one is communicating that they do in a certain environment. What are your thoughts on this?
Hey Fletch … I have a quick question that may require a long answer. If a pastor is writing books, who gets the royalties and why? I’m confident that this question has varying answers depending on terms and conditions. I welcome all answers to all possibilities, if you have enough time.
DRF—The general understanding of “work for hire” laws are if a pastor writes a book on church time, on church computers and […]
Hey Fletch … I wanted to reach out and say thanks for the employee handbook that I found on XPastor. This is exactly what I needed! I am helping our pastors develop an employee handbook so we appreciate you sharing this!
DRF—Thanks for letting me know. The employee handbook on that page is one of many that people in the XPastor community have submitted. There are many more staff policies on […]
Hey Fletch … I just got out of a meeting with my XP. He told me that the church has a policy that pastors have to retire at age 65. I don’t get it. I’m effective in my role, love it and have a good five to ten years of ministry left in me. What should I do?
DRF—Ouch. I’m so sorry to hear this. I strongly disagree with such a policy. You […]
Hey Fletch … We are paying a pastor a sign-on bonus that has filed their 4361 and at the same time has a W4 with the church. What is the church’s responsibility when it comes to withholding taxes on the bonus? Does the church withhold zero taxes on the bonus since he is licensed and has filed 4361? Does the church withhold taxes per the W4 that the clergy has with the church ?
Hey Fletch! We are a small but growing church that typically hires from within our own membership. We are considering adding an employment application but don’t know where to begin. Can you recommend a good resource for what kind of questions to ask (and what is too personal?) As we’ve experienced growth and haven’t had as long to get to know prospective applicants, we’ve been surprised by a few situations that seem […]
Hey Fletch … My boss wants me out. She came into my office last week and essentially said “You are done here.” What should I do?
DRF—Often there is a substantial backstory that builds up to that climactic statement. Sometimes it comes out of thin air. Either way, your relationship with your boss is severely damaged, probably beyond repair.
As you think through the last few months, consider what you have done to be […]
Hey Fletch … I was thinking about applying for the open XP role at our church. Then I found out the church quickly and quietly hired an insider. Is this typical?
DRF—I’m sorry that you didn’t get the change to apply for the position and possibly get an interview. If a church posts an open position, they should allow three to five weeks for people to apply. Otherwise, it makes people wonder, “Why […]
Hey Fletch … Are my people working hard enough? Should we use time-cards for pastors?
DRF—This is similar to yesterday’s question about administrative assistants. People work incredibly hard when they have a compelling vision. When people speak into the tactics of implementing that vision, they work even harder.
I am not a fan of having time cards for pastors. Pastors are exempt from FLSA regulations, so time cards are not required. Some churches use […]
Hey Fletch … I’m beginning to write the script for my worship reel. What do you think are the most important things to hit on in that video. What subjects do churches and employers need/want to hear me share about?
DRF—A resume for a worship leader should include “your reel.” That is a collection of videos that show you in action. I would suggest that you include three things:
Hey Fletch … I’m a church planter. We have a part-time pastor on our staff. Her husband makes a good living and we would love to pay her more. However, as a starter church, our budget is so, so tight. I can’t bring her to full-time status. She is already putting in more hours than we are paying her for and I fear that she may burn out. Thoughts?
Hey Fletch … I noticed that some of the data in XPastor’s Compensation Survey seems dated. I’m sure if you made a plea to all the XP viewers they would be happy to update a Salary Survey Spreadsheet for you. It’s always hard for us operating in the northeast to find good comps.
DRF—I liked your feedback and it is helping to improve the page. Here is what the page now says:
Hey Fletch … Is it ok if I use the employee handbooks on XPastor to create my own? I didn’t see anything that states they are copyright protected, but wanted to make sure. I really enjoy your site and it has been very helpful to me as a Church Administrator!
DRF—XPastor tries to help churches by providing many of the essentials for running a church. These are items like job descriptions, employment applications, […]
Hey Fletch … I’m in a small church with a few part-time paid staff. We are hoping to grow them into full-time positions over the next 2 years, plus expand the staff. What is the best way to structure a pay scale that a church can grow into on the front end to avoid mis-compensated staff on the back end? How should be pay executive leadership, department heads, department staff, part-time and […]
Hey Doc … I’m in XPastor’s class on Staffing. The class is going well! Most is fairly straightforward and there are nuggets of insight that I am able to pull from each lesson. This is validating the information that I have needed to pass to the Board over the past two years. It’s nice to see alignment with what I’ve been stating to them.
DRF—That’s part of a great education. It affirms […]
Hey Fletch … I’m using the XPastor Compensation Survey. We are beginning the process of hiring a Senior Pastor and the Board is wanting to evaluate all salaries. We have some work to do to come up with ranges relevant to our church and area, our location is so very expensive to move into.
DRF—The realtors say it best, “location, location, location.” You are in an expensive area for housing. So, your […]
Hey David … I will become an Assistant Pastor within three months. Initially, this will be an unpaid position. It will become paid once the church can afford me. How do I expedite that process? Help is appreciated.
DRF—The first thing that comes to mind is to launch a culture of generosity. Help the church by telling stories of ministry. I recently was at a church with enormous reach in their city. All they […]
Hey David … Do you have anything on internships. What to expect out of an intern and expectations of me as the Student Pastor?
DRF—We don’t have much in the way of job descriptions. I don’t know why, as over the years we have had so many paid and non-paid interns. The best practice is, if you use the term “intern” then make it a learning internship. If the situation is really “unpaid labor” […]
Hey Doc … I’m reviewing my ministry description as an XP. I’m in a church of 750. Can you give any input on it. 25% is Finance & HR, 25% is Working with Ministry Staff, 25% is Facilities and 25% is Leadership & Direct Ministry.
DRF—I always like percentages of time in a role description. It demonstrates an agreed upon priority of ministry. For a church your size, the percentages look realistic and doable. […]
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