Saturday, June 5, 2010

Nepotism in The Church

Nepotism is alive and well—especially in The Church. Nepotism is defined as “Favoritism shown to relatives or close friends by those with power or influence.”

One of the mega-churches in town has all the members of one family on its payroll. The church hired the music minister’s son after he was fired from another church. The second son is the children’s ministries pastor, and his father-in-law is also on the staff.

At the same mega-church, a board member's son was hired to be the Junior High School Pastor. Unfortunately, that young man has never attended college and he is woefully under qualified to teach young people and lead a department. That is nepotism at its worse—and a bad way to run a business.

We’re certainly not alone in this practice, as there are companies all over the world—large and small—that are filled with co-workers who share the same DNA. There are certainly good reasons for doing business this way.

Sons and daughters are groomed from birth to be the perfect employee. I think of real estate mogul, Donald Trump’s family. The three eldest Trump kids all work for their father. I feel sure that “The Donald” saw to it that those kids got the education and experience they needed to be perfect vice presidents for the Trump organization.

Hey, putting your kids on the payroll saves a lot of time and energy that would have been wasted interviewing potential employees. When a father hires his son he can wave all those pesky background checks, and the exorbitant fees that go with them. After all, Dad knows about most of the skeletons in the family closet.

Kids follow in the footsteps of their parents all the time. It’s natural, of course, since we inherit strengths and talents from our Mom and Dad. Those traits lead us to jobs for which we are a good fit. In addition, we’re all drawn to the familiar—such as the family business.

Hollywood has its famous acting families. There’s the Barrymore family, Kirk Douglas and his boys, and Lloyd Bridges, who along with his actress wife, Dorothy raised actor sons Beau and Jeff. These are just a few of so many possible examples.

Christianity has its royal families too. Billy Graham’s kids Anne and Franklin have followed their dad into the family business, as have the kids of Robert Schuller, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and John Hagee.

I don’t snub the practice of nepotism in church hiring practices completely, but I do believe that those in leadership need to be careful. We must be very sure that the people on the payroll are the best possible man or woman for the job. We ought to hold ourselves to a high accountability—higher than most.

I’ve asked this question before…what is your church’s business model? We represent God to the world, and we should be setting the standard. Get off the pew!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Oh how true this rings in many churches

  2. We are facing this issue in our church. Every relative of our pastor that lives in our town is now employed by the church. A few times it has appeared that they have let qualified people go and then replaced them with a family member. They have even created positions/titles for their family members. At least two of them are being paid full-time salaries but are only at the church a couple days a week. It's like they are creating their own dynasty. Many people have left the church or have greatly reduced or eliminated their tithing because of this issue. I think most people instinctively feel that nepotism is wrong. Favoritism is called a sin in the Bible. James 2:9, "but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors". What more proof do we need?