I’d like to take a moment and thank the Master’s Commission International Network for finally updating their Affiliate requirements to include several core suggestions I made to Lloyd Zeigler and Eric Hunsberger in 2008, regarding the ethical treatment of students and staff members.
In that letter, I asked them to do the following:
For the future of the MCIN, I would like to suggest the following for the safety and wellness of the students:
- Safe “complaint” system established that a student can go to without retributions in order to bring to the attention of the MCIN any matter of harassment, mental harm, destructive teaching, or all manners of an unhealthy group or cult-like teachings.
- Guidelines established involving limitations on how much a director can dictate of a student’s “self-discipline.” Including, but not limited to dating, entertainment, music, clothing, etc.
- Establish clearly that the Director or Staff Member is NOT the voice of God for the said students and staff members and in no way should exercise such grossly misguided authority.
- Protection of the student from authoritarianism of a Director’s or Staff members by revoking a group’s affiliation with the MCIN, if deemed necessary.
- Guidelines and hours set to protect the student from over-work, long term exhaustion or fatigue, or physical ailments due to over-work for no (or very little) monetary payment. Following the laws that the Department of Labor establishes, according to www.dol.gov
- A board of directors for each Master’s Commission that should include parents of students or staff members. Also, a safe “complaint” system established in which a student or staff member’s parent(s), guardian or friend can go to without retributions in order to bring to the attention of the MCIN any matter of harassment, mental harm, destructive teaching, or all manners of an unhealthy group or cult-like teachings.
- Regularly monitoring of activities, and teachings to prevent further development of patterns of cult-like teachings, destructive and harmful teachings and practices.
- Encourage students to engage in open relationships with their parents, family and friends and not to exclude or hide anything from them. To develop an “Open Campus” policy and Parent’s Board for parents to question policies, procedures, pay scale, work load and work schedules.
For the future of the MCIN, I would like to suggest the following for the safety and wellness of the staff members:
- Set, enforced guidelines regarding pay scale for staff members relevant to actual work done that would be in the secular environment in the specific metropolitan area. Additionally, following the Department of Labor laws on employment and minimum wage.
- Provide some type of minimum paid sick days and funeral leave standard to secular work place.
- Provide access or information to health benefits or coverage, and adjust pay to appropriate for health care. (Note: Health care and health benefits do not mean the state run insurance!)
- Provide paid vacation for full-time staff members, relevant to secular workplace.
- Provide mileage compensation for job related driving.
- Allow for staff members to date at their discretion, under advisement of the pastor only if the said staff member requests the advisement of a pastor. Take away the “No Dating” policy for students or staff members who are beyond their First Year. No dictating, scare tactics, or harassment of the staff member’s choices of dating.
Perhaps the greatest issue not covered is the issue of a person who leaves Master’s Commission (most groups included in this) is often ostracized. To ostracize is to: 1. exclude, by general consent, from society, friendship, conversation, privileges, etc. Ostracizing is what some modern churches do, but it’s wrong. If you don’t follow their tenants, you get excommunicated. After serving MC for several years, I followed the voice of God to go home. This voice of God that I heard was contrary to the voice of the pastors. What’s ironic here is that I followed the voice of God, but was shunned from their ‘bubble’ and my reputation was ruined within that ‘bubble’ for not obeying the pastor.
I recently saw that the M.C.I.N. website has been updated (as of this writing in 2011) to include some of what I suggested then. The following items have changed for the better (changes notated in blue, with my comments following in black):
Requirements of an Affiliate of M.C.I.N.
14. Must have a no dating policy for First year Discipleship Students. Must also provide that all Staff, Second and Third year Discipleship Students are free to date, with limited supervision from Affiliate Director, Senior Pastor and Staff unless specifically requested by such Discipleship Student(s) or Staff.
15. Must ensure that, although the Master’s Commission program is an intense discipleship program, Discipleship Students will not be alienated from their families and will assist Discipleship Students in maintaining strong familial relationships.
16. Must provide each Discipleship Student one (1) full day per week for personal/leisure time. Additionally, Affiliates must provide Discipleship Students the additional time reasonably necessary to maintain the familial relationships discussed in paragraph 15 above (as an example, but not a limitation, when the family of a Discipleship Student lives out of town, state, etc., Affiliate shall provide the time to such Discipleship Student reasonably necessary for travel to maintain a healthy familial relationship).
17. Must maintain familiarity with and comply with all municipal, county, state and federal labor laws (e.g. wages, health benefits, retirement security, employment rights, safety, etc.). Without limiting the foregoing, Discipleship Students and all Staff must be guaranteed payment at least equal to minimum wage for all employment activities unrelated to their study/duties with Master’s Commission. (This one is worded tricky. It appears to say that Master’s Commission Staff members will be paid at least minimum wage, but it’s saying “all employment activities unrelated to duties with Master’s Commission. Therefore, the labor issues aren’t fixed, making Master’s Commission a playground for unethical treatment and labor law abuse. Also, Master’s Commission staff members MUST be paid a salary, in my view, since they devote more than 40 hours a week to running a ministry they rarely get paid to run. They often volunteer for several years of their life, with their parents supporting them financially. This is WRONG!)
18. Must be a full time Master’s Commission program. (Trainees not able to work at a job) (Considering the above, this is NOT good!)
You can read the Affiliate Requirements in full here.