Wednesday, October 10, 2018

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!

DRF—I have several “Hey Fletch” columns on pastors who write books and other intellectual property issues. For example, see one on Who Owns a Book that the Pastor Writes?

Your issue is a little different. You are asking about off-hours work that the pastor engages in. In business, there are some high level executives that are forbidden from doing any freelance work. Generally, these are well compensated leaders who do not “need” the extra income. The freelance work might share trade secrets of their company with competitors. The last time that I checked the New Testament, there were no trade secrets relating to the gospel.

Consider how many hours you expect your pastors to work for the church. Most churches land in the 40 to 50 hour range. Do you want to try to regulate off-hours work? Do you have the right to do that? 

My view is that a pastor has the right to spend off hours or vacation time as they desire. The criteria is that the quality of their church work cannot diminish. If the pastor does consulting or speaking outside of work hours, it is not a church HR issue. 

There should be a good arm’s length distance between the church and the consulting work. The pastor should not use a church computer or any other church resource for the consulting. Church personnel on church time should not be assisting the pastor, such as an administrative assistant making travel arrangements.

Pastors who do external consulting often bring back to the church a great wealth of ministry experience. This can be of solid value to your church.