advocacy / Justice and Peacemaking Ministries

Supporting the Family Responsibilities of Church Workers

CBF Advocacy engages in issue advocacy most often as a member of larger coalitions. The Faith for Just Lending coalition and the Evangelical Immigration Table are two such examples. Occasionally, we will highlight the good work of one of our coalition partners in an issue area which we have yet to fully engage. By doing so we hope to encourage and educate CBF supporters that might be interested in the issue and lift up the good work of colleagues in other organizations.

The Center for Public Justice (CPJ) is a leading member of the Faith for Just Lending coalition. Recently, Stephen Reeves served as the contributing editor for a series on the church’s role in predatory lending reform for their Public Justice Review publication. CPJ’s Families Valued initiative is working to promote family-supportive policies and practices. Read more below, register here and join their webinar on November 15 at 1:00 p.m. ET to receive info and resources specifically designed for faith-based employers.

Supporting the Family Responsibilities of Church Workers

By Chelsea Maxwell

There is a disconnect between our family values and the way we work. The Center for Public Justice is helping bridge the divide with a forthcoming resource.

The Christian tradition sees both family life and work as two God-given, creative, and good aspects of human life. Work and family are knit into human community and are intended to be companions. Yet, many families experience family life and work as sources of conflict.

Ministry work is not immune to the conflict. “Your role as a family member tends to ooze into multiple aspects of your life,” reflects Pastor Peter Chin. “But unfortunately, pastoring is the same way.”

America is one of the few nations in the world that fails to guarantee paid parental leave for new mothers and fathers. Likewise, there are wide gaps in support for workers needing time off to care for a loved one, despite the growing need for family caregivers as our population ages. Only 19% of the workforce receives paid family leave from their employer. Workers with lower incomes are even less likely to have such a workplace benefit. Yet, there is growing awareness that policies that support families – “family-supportive policies” – can enable workers to flourish in work, rest and caregiving according to God’s good design.

For the past three years, the Families Valued initiative at the Center for Public Justice, a Christian policy and civic engagement organization, has been investigating the question of family-supportive work. How, we ask, can we ensure that work is something that truly helps families to thrive? We have examined public policy options and talked with churches and faith-based organizations about the ways they have or hope to align their family values with their family supportive work.

The connection between family and work is clear for many ministries. “[O]ur work is about helping people reconnect with healthy relationships with God and each other,” shares one ministry employer. “So, as part of that, families [are] a big piece of healthy relationships so we have to support that in our staff if we’re going to invite others into that kind of transformational living.”

On Friday, November 15 at 1pm ET, the Center for Public Justice is hosting an informative webinar on building a family-supportive workplace. Registrants – both employers and employees – will receive exclusive access to the Center’s new resource for faith-based employers to assess and expand family-supportive practices in their organizations. The resource book includes practical guidance, including sample practices and policies for workplaces.

As Christians, we know that God’s good design for us includes both family and work. And we know there is real impact from the choices we make in our personal lives, workplaces, and policies. In addition to upholding healthy families, family-supportive workplace practices can help recruit leaders and promote quality of life at work and at home. As Pastor Chin shares, “[T]he ramifications of [family-supportive] policy decisions are deeply personal and spiritual. We’re talking about marriages; we’re talking about people’s health; we’re talking about their welfare and how cared for they feel.”

Families that most need family-supportive workplace benefits like paid leave are least likely to receive it. Without those benefits, some families lean on household savings or family wealth. But many families lack this financial buffer. Only 35 percent of married couples with children have at least three months of liquid savings. Families of color are less likely than their white counterparts to have household wealth to cover family leave. Overall, families with lower income and wealth face intense financial pressure to work instead of helping with crucial family care.

As leaders in our communities, churches have an opportunity to live out our family and work values as examples for other workplaces. Dignifying work respects worker family responsibilities. By finding ways to support the families of those who work in our ministries we will lead the way for other employers to treat their workers – all workers, regardless of wage level – with similar respect. Cultural change that supports families begins with us.

To learn about what makes for a family-supportive workplace and receive practical resources, register here.

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