Dear Church Leaders:

Respectfully, would you mind stop using the phrase “All In?”

When a church staff member goes into ministry for usually a significant cut in pay and longer hours, they are doing it because God has called them into it, as He did you – they are already “All In.” They are already sacrificing a lot for the work of ministry, as are you. It can come across as an insult and downright spiritual bullying when you question whether someone is “All In” or not.

Newsflash: You’re probably not paying them what they should be paid for the multiple positions they are filling for your church. Most need a side hustle to make ends meet for their family. Judge them by their job performance and the work they do for your church, not that they have the gall to earn money from somewhere else also.

When I was younger, I worked in the restaurant business. When I worked in Marketing for Chick-fil-a, no one ever asked me if I was “All In.” They judged me on my job performance for the work I did for them. “But Carl, ministry isn’t a normal job, it’s a calling…” Yeah, I know, which is why most church staff members I know accept the pay cut and long hours because they know what they are doing matters for eternity – they are already “All In” – if they weren’t, they probably would not be working at your church.

When you throw around the phrase “All In,” you’re basically saying, “If you don’t jump when I tell you to jump and you’re not here when I’m telling you to be here, you don’t love Jesus.”

Please stop using the “All In” Jesus card as an excuse to take advantage of people.

You’re frying them out.

Which might be why the average pastor only stays at a church 5-7 years, some studies show as low as 3.6 years ( And from my own experience and friends in my network – other church staff positions stay around less than that.

This comes out of a sincere heart from confidential conversations with good, hard-working church staff friends of mine that have this real struggle.

We talk a good game on stage about taking care of our people, but can I respectfully ask us to examine how we actually treat our staff during the week?

About Carl Barnhill

Owner, Church Visuals

Carl Barnhill is a creative entrepreneur, motion designer and author. He is the Owner Church Visuals, a company that helps Ministry Leaders visually communicate the Gospel. He is the host of the Your Visuals Matter Podcast. You can find him in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife, Katie and two sons, Jacob and Wesley.

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