I was given a free subscription to a church executive magazine. Normally I just throw them out. But occasionally I browse through an issue just out of curiosity. What an adventure!
Latest issue had an article in its “Legal Advice” section about whether or not a church should require an employee to sign a non-compete covenant. Yes. You read that right.
Oh, the article spends a whole paragraph wondering about the whole spirituality side of things. You know, the call to evangelize and how that’s a good thing.
But – horror of horrors! – what if a former employee of your church starts a new church that might compete with yours!?!?!?!?
Several paragraphs and two pages later, the solution: have them sign a non-compete covenant. Businesses do it, and after all, your church just might have the kind of unique, proprietary, intellectual property that needs protecting.
This is just silly.
First – the means that the church has been given are quite simple: preach and teach the Word, administer the sacraments, practice responsible church discipline, pray for one another, etc. Folks, it ain’t rocket science. You don’t need some fancy business model. And it’s not your exclusive, proprietary property anyway. It’s God’s. He gives it to you freely to use.
Second – where there might be some legitimate territorial issue, that problem can be easily solved by being part of a denomination. Yes, one of those old dinosaurs. A group of men willing and able to help plan where new churches should go. It may not always work the way it should, but it’s better than a goofy non-compete covenant.