Updated 5/13/19: I’ve been doing a lot of research and am on a major learning curve about how business practices have been conducted within this organization. Situations have been brought to light that are not regional and cross the board into the various roles that place a significant amount of liability on individuals who, in general, I do not believe are prepared to accept that risk. Everyone should do their own research but I can no longer support with my original assessment that it depends on the area and individual situation. I cannot recommend stepping into leadership or staying in leadership unless there is a MAJOR overhaul of the current setup.
UPDATED 5/7/19: I was contacted by someone who read this post and was shocked that I would write anyone could still lead within the organization. “I’m not trying to argue,” she wrote, “I’m genuinely baffled by the whole situation. I don’t see any way for someone to direct, at least at a F/E community, in a way that is compliant with CC without violating some code somewhere… and SRs and ARs are given the task of recruiting those directors…” As we teased through her concerns it became clear that she, in a different area of the country, has experienced expectations and mandates that were different from my area. In her case, her assessment is spot on. So, as you read this, realize that what I assessed as “sketchy but doable” in my area is not possible to do with compliance to federal laws in a different geographical area with different leadership expectations.
I was contacted by someone this morning who is aware of our, ahem, recent homeschooling change of direction, and she asked a really simple question:
“Based on what you know, can I still be in leadership? Can anyone?”
My answer, unequivocally?
You see, I categorize things into sin issues and preference issues. I can see preference issues all over the place but I don’t have to act on them. But if something turns into a sin issue, I believe that according to James 4:17, you simply cannot sit by and do or say nothing.
What has moved me from just fading away into silence has been that I see sin issues – but I also am realistic and rational enough to see that these sin issues might not affect everyone in the organization!
Can you still serve in leadership? Absolutely. Should you still serve in leadership?
Only you can decide based on your personal situation. Only if you have thoroughly vetted the contract and feel comfortable with the enormous amount of liability you sign up for with the contracts.
I have a sort of pro/con list that I wrote out of points of contention I have identified. There are 13 items on that list that are active, current issues that have crossed the line into sin (in my assessment) because of unlawfulness in their enactment or abusiveness from a relational perspective.
Of those, six of them are items that land on the sin of abuse of power in my state that might not be transferable to other states or leadership structures.
Then, the corporate body has their fingers in 11 of the items (yes, there is some overlap) from a corporate philosophy, lack of transparency regarding liability, or lack of communication standpoint.
So, yes, I believe there are significant items. I believe there are things that need to be addressed by both every leader through self-scrutiny and by the organizational structure through change of policy.
The issues that drew the line in the sand for our family are transferable to other areas but not blanket for other locations. I do believe they could be resolved with
integrity a major overhaul of the existing structure.
These are things that can be managed by someone who is willing to do the extra legwork and take on the mantle that their involvement is with a business, not a ministry! (Yes, ministry is often a byproduct, but that’s not the main goal.)
(But, let’s just take a moment to point out that a Matthew 18 conflict resolution philosophy and PERPL only work if people are willing to talk to you. I’ve only had success reaching out to two of the five people who were in my team line… over the course of 10 months.)
But see, friends, after going through all of this and the sorting through sin versus preference, following through with Matthew 18 conversations that don’t actually resolve the issues… I am weary. I don’t want to be the clingy girlfriend in a relationship that will never work out. I don’t want to be the dog that goes back to its own vomit.
The sin issues make me furious. The multitude of preference issues make me weary. In my weariness, I now trust that God has moved our family away from anything involving corporate oversight in our homeschool. Our goal initially in participating in this organization was for it to make it easier to home school – that’s not what it looked like for us at the end.
That doesn’t mean that leaving is the right decision for everybody.
One person who is precious to me is in the process of pursing a Director role in another state right now. I’m excited for her! She’s looking into this because of being introduced to it by my family and I wish her well!
But I told her that she cannot skip the step of talking to her accountant and seeing an attorney to be certain that her family is protected in a worst case scenario. (Bring the contract!)
(The corporate organization has been recommending this forever! It’s just that the team support has not pushed it, not emphasized how important it is in far too many cases. Community members largely have no idea how much liability is taken on by the Directors.)
My recommendation is that anyone look carefully at the legal aspects of what they have signed and the liability that comes with that signature. (In retrospect I would never, ever sign anything as a sole proprietor again, the risk to my family of the what if is far too great.)
If you’re in middle management, carefully tread the line of what expectations you can have of your folks that are actually permissible by law versus what is expected by the organization as “best practice” and clearly articulate those things to those you oversee. Be really cautious using the word “required” in almost every circumstance.
Contact the officials of your area to explore the tax implications of for-profit classified businesses being hosted by non-profit entities. There may be NO ISSUE in your area because this is decided locally, but you won’t know unless you ask.
And finally, but really primarily and throughout every single bit of this, pray, pray, pray. There is sometimes a large gap between what you could do and what you should do. Only God through the discernment provided by the Holy Spirit will be able to guide into what’s right and accurate for your family.