(and other lies we may lovingly, mistakenly believe.)
I’d like to address why the internship program at the Austin Stone Community Church is now a fund-raising, and not salary, paradigm.
There was a time when the church staff was much smaller. So was the church attendance. But in terms of attender giving vs mission, enough funds came in that each staff member was afforded a salary. God’s direction has been such that the full time staff has actually not grown to a great degree, but the mission and size of the church as a whole has. For some time, it seemed that the solution was to hire “interns” on a first semester non-paid “trial” period of sorts, and then give them small stipends, which sometimes increased by semester. This worked for about three years.
And then several things became clear, not the least of which was: Our mission and our equipping of the saints to perform said mission were being hindered by our then-current structure. There were not enough funds to support every person who wanted to come help and learn, and so the church leadership had to make a decision: turn away those who could be trained to continue the mission of God, those fatihful to whom we’d been called to entrust with the Gospel, or change the way the program worked.
Thus the Austin Leadership Institute. Now, unhindered by a constraint on funds, the Stone can bring on as many people as the organization can adequately train and utilize, as many as the Lord brings, as many as will take on the effort of fundraising. And interns aren’t bound by the lovely, but usually very small, amounts associated with stipends.
So it’s not about “them” refusing to pay “us” for our hard work. It’s about trying to get creative with the Body of Christ to accomplish the goals of Christ, knowing we can only ever do either through His strength.