You might think that monetizing your ministry (i.e. selling content you create) would be good for you, your ministry, and hopefully others. We found out that that can get tricky when you work for a non-profit.
Two issues arise when you try to sell your ministry content: The IRS can take away your church's nonprofit status and impose obscene fines & your church might not want you to sell what they believe is rightfully theirs.
At some point pastors began to sell their sermons. At a not much later point in time some pastors began to make tons of money doing this. The problem is, they were employees of a nonprofit and some of them were using nonprofit resources in order to create the content they were selling.
At some point churches began to sell sermons. At a not much later point in time some churches began to make tons of money doing this. The problem is, these pastors who created the content weren't being paid adequately for their work that was being reproduced and sold to the masses.
The IRS also plays into this. They don't want non profit organizations hiding their profits away in a pastor's bank account by having the pastor sell content that the nonprofit created. In fact, if you're the pastor of a church and you pocket some money from the content you create, you could lose your non profit status AND your church could be fined $10k per board member.
The Opposing Arguments:
Some want to say that since preaching is a major part of what the pastor was hired to do - those sermons should belong to the churches that hired the pastors to preach them. Just like a blog might hire authors to create content. That content then belongs to the blog.
Others want to say that pastors are hired to shepherd the flock. Most churches don't hire pastors with the expectation that he or she will create intellectual property. They might create intellectual property in order to better do their job but they might not. Usually churches don't explicitly say, "we want you to create a sermon manuscript once a week." They might want a pastor to preach - but whether or not he creates content in order to do so is up to him.
What Doesn't Matter:
Being considered self employed doesn't mean anything and doing work on your own time also might not mean anything. Plenty of pastors work on sermons when they're not in the office - that doesn't mean they're not doing the work the church hired them to do.
What Can Be Done:
Churches and pastors need to create contracts in order to determine who owns what. Some churches will end up deciding that all content created by their pastors belongs to their pastors. Other churches will decide that all content created by their pastors belongs to the church.
Find Out More Here:
Why Our Store Is Down:
We're not sure yet where our church stands or where the IRS stands so we're gonna wait until we get some clear answers. In the meantime, continue to enjoy the rest of our site as always.