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Lay Off the Layoffs

Alternatives to cutting staff when the budget gets tight.

The Federal Reserve projects unemployment may hit 8.8 percent by the end of the year. But at least one church leader says churches have a biblical responsibility to exhaust all options to reduce operating budgets before resorting to the same job-cutting tactics used by companies, agencies, and ministries during the first quarter of 2009, which left millions of Americans out of work.

"Given the value of our staff and our employees, and how we need to model what it really means to be in community and be in biblical relationships, we have to turn over every rock to reduce our operating expenses before we take the hard steps of letting people go," says Paul Clark, the executive pastor of Fairhaven Church in Dayton, Ohio. "It's biblical. We owe it to people to make the best efforts to preserve their jobs, their roles in the church. When we hire them, we make a commitment to maintain biblical relationships and good working relationships."

That's not an easy task, Clark concedes. Your Church magazine ...

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