Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Benefits of Favoritism

A common feature of controlling Word of faith churches I have observed is nepotism. Nepotism is defined as favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship. They really seem to go all the way with it too. The pastor makes his son the worship or youth leader, a daughter or daughter-in-law oversees the kids, the wife co-pastors and everyone is on full time payroll somewhere somehow. I know of cases where a pastor's family members replaced more qualified staff members or volunteers, which shores up the pastor's control in the church.

As a PK myself I certainly could not recommend a minister putting their 20-something aged kids on a paid ministry position just because of their relation, no matter how good every one's intentions are. Even when there is not an expectation to meet from parents, minister’s children can struggle with their own sense of personal identity. This is largely due their lives being in the context of church and the potentially confining attitudes of congregants. I would not want to put pressure on a young person to lead teens when there are still personal convictions and chooses to be borne out in their lives.

These are the pressures normal people in church deal with. In the Twilight Zone atmosphere of a controlling church, the minister usually holds his family up as a model of faith and virtue. Reinforced by preacher-exalting doctrines about authority, personal anointing and prosperity, the pastor and his family are celebrities in their own church. I don't think any reasonable person would think that this is a healthy emotional environment for the pastor's kids to grow up in. Yet they have jobs there, in some cases, being payed a disproportionately high salary for the position they occupy.

So you have family members employed in positions they might otherwise not have the inclination or desire to do. They are really just in the family business. And the family business is riding the prosperity gravy train, exhorting people to give while they live the extravagant lifestyle of the nouveau rich. And I hear story after story of the adult children or family members in these churches falling in to sin (in some cases staying there). Leaders in a controlling church must be confronted over such issues. It seems like I remember Jesus rebuking the religious crowd far more often than the sinners because of their corruption and pride.

People get upset (or should) when politicians pack appointed positions of grant contracts to their cronies and family.

Why accept any lower standards from church leaders?


  1. I went to a new church recently and I was so happy to hear that they don't allow family members to be on the board. They don't allow family members to make any decisions about how the money is spent - that is up to the board (which has no family members.)In my former church the pastor's wife was on the board and his son helped choose board members. You know they were the ones making all the decisions - and those were decisions that were best for their family. It was always all about them and they really didn't care about the well being of the church members.

  2. Believe me, I know what you are talking about. Nepotism was one of the key characteristics of the abusive "Plymouth Brethren"-styled church I left over five years ago. You're absolutely right - it was a "family business," with a serial adulterer at the head, a wife-beater as one of the assistant leaders, and a bunch of other ambitious families vying for positions of leadership.

  3. Great Post! At my former church all of the pastor's family was on staff with very high salaries. The pastor even went as far as to make a passing statement the he really wanted his staff to watch the Godfather movies because that was the kind of loyalty that he really wanted from his staff.

  4. All of this unchecked authority where the pastor and his family make all the decisions results in a CULT!

  5. Look no further than Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa or Orange County in general. It is a way of life in Orange County.

  6. Thanks for commenting. Sadly, this type of behavior in not uncommon.