98 thoughts on “SFL Back To School Day 5 Bonus: Signing Your Life Away”

        1. LOL – Vomit – yes~ & at least the spelling is closer! Comit is actually spelled “Commit” – you’d think that such a short form regarding school would have been checked for spelling errors! Not that I can live without spellcheck – but just sayin’ that’s a hint right there about the quality level of “education” ~ ๐Ÿ˜•

      1. re “comit”: I’d be tempted to circle it in red, hand back the paper (unsigned), assign him to write “commit” 30 times, then have the agreement corrected and reprinted before I’ll sign it.

      1. That depends. (I am an accountant. “That depends” is probably the most used phrase in accounting.) It really is dependent on the following:

        1 – Does that include extra services when my teacher workload is extra heavy? (it happens)
        2 – What is in the church’s constitution?
        3 – Define “regular basis”.
        4 – Define “honor” and to what extent does this “authority” encroach on my personal life?
        5 – What if the result of those decisions are abusive to staff or students or parents or anyone else?
        6 – Truly Christ-like or YOUR definition of “Christ-like”?
        7 – Reasonable. Can’t really argue with that one.

        1. All of these are why my wife does not teach in a Fundy Christian school. She could easily walk into a Fundy school, and walk back out with a teaching job, but neither of us wants that. She taught 4 years in a public middle school, and though it was a little rough on her after a couple years (ever-increasing workload and dealing with other teachers/admin.), she still would go back to public before ever teaching in a Fundy school.

  1. “Providentially hindered”
    That’s a splendid phrase I heard altogether too much growing up ๐Ÿ™‚
    I remember going to one missions conference when there was a blizzard. My mother drove through an icey puddle and proceeded to drive the rest of the way to church looking through a 2 inch hole in the ice covered windsheild. ๐Ÿ™„

  2. Thank God for number one.
    “Yeah, I was totally gonna be at church Wednesday night, but I was providentially hindered by a dry martini…”

    “Sorry about missing Sunday School, I was providentially hindered by sleep…”

    “What, we had a revival this week? Oh man, I was providentially hindered by WOW all week…”

  3. I teach at a public high school and Iโ€™m a Christian. I have to say that as a public school teacher, we have to agree to #2 (if you substitute school for church) and #7.

    As a Christian I agree with point #6.

    The others tread into funny, man centered kooky land. (God given authority of the principal? Ummm โ€ฆ. I donโ€™t remember that verse)

  4. I’d like to see this:

    Fundamental Baptist School
    Pastor/Principal Agreement

    1. We commit to providing church services that feed the flock of God and faithfully exegete the Bible instead of reflecting our own personal opinions.

    2. We commit to not requiring burdensome, extra-Biblical standards in our church constitution and to follow the doctrine of Christian liberty in areas which some Christians find questionable. We will choose to believe charitably toward each other when we disagree. We likewise commit ourselves to lives of integrity.

    3. We will endeavor to never pressure you to perform in ways you are not gifted realizing that some plant, others water, but God gives the increase. Recognizing that your family is your first responsibility before God, we will not require Thursday night visitation.

    4. We will honor our faculty and staff as joint-heirs with Christ and fellow laborers with us. As equal members of the body of Christ, we will not lord it over you but endeavor to serve you.

    5. We will make decisions only after prayer and counsel from others. We will seek your honest input and listen to your opinion knowing that our school will best succeed when we are all a valued part of the team.

    6. We will exemplify a Christ-like attitude toward students, parents, faculty, and all others in our community.

    7. We commit to providing you a living wage. We will clearly delineate your duties and not add to them during the school year.

    Signatures:
    ____________________________________________

    1. Pastor’s Wife, I love your posts. They are some of the most though-filled, kindest, truthful posts on this site. I have a lot of respect for you, and am sorry for what has happened to you and your husband in the fundy world. I, too, would LOVE to see an agreement worded EXACTLY as you have worded this one. I do have to say, the entire time I read it, while tears did come to my eyes because it is SO to the point, I was shaking my head. I was saying to myself, “It will never happen.” Not in this world, anyway. Thank God, there is a better one coming! (With a few surprised fundies in it?)

    2. How about this addition? “We promise to recognize that by teaching in our school instead of a public school, you are already giving up more than 10% of your salary, and we will never pressure you to give more. That’s between you and God, and we’ll keep it that way.”

    3. where do I sign up!

      I especially like the joint-heirs and fellow laborers clause – I use that one to describe how my marriage works to people who don’t understand what submit to one another in love means.

    4. Unfortunately, I understand all that you wrote in that post. I was a school principal’s wife until 3 years ago. We left that ministry. He’s selling cars now….our 7 kids are still “reeling” over the whole thing. It’s hard to find a sense of equilibrium when 1/2 of the married couple is understanding grace and the other 1/2 has one foot in IFB-land. Would appreciate response if you have the time.

      1. It’s hard to see your children hurting and it’s very hard when one spouse isn’t viewing the IFB the same way as the other. If you want to talk, you can join the forum and private message me or start a thread. Hoping your family heals and grows in grace!

      2. Momofmany,

        My husband and I did not agree about fundystan for quite a while. It was a very hard time. He was worried about our kids going to the devil if we left and I was tired of dreading going to church because of all the bad stuff there.

    5. It seems in fundy land, it’s always about what you can give the mog. It’s not about supporting the teacher, training the staff, making sure they’re at their best. The fundamental baptist school is probably the best example of the man-centerdness of the fundamental movement. Read the handbooks- compare how much they talk about academics to how much they talk about dress code. “Numbers are for sissies, reading is for Liberals! As long as you gotta tie on, you BLESSED Haymen?”

  5. Wow. That is nothing compared to the one I had to sign to become a CHURCH member at a baptist cult church I attended several years back. It was three pages long…oh how I wish I had kept a copy!!! Anyway, it went into styles of dress (no pants on women EVER!), hair length on men, no movies, no rock music especially CCM, mandatory attendance FOUR times a week (the soulwinning service was MANDATORY) PLUS times you had to arrive for each service to be considered “on time” which usually meant arriving and SIGNING IN no more than 15-30 minutes before the service began (depending on the service, they each had their own rules), etc. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ I really did not want to sign it but hubby did so I went along for a while. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

    It was worse than torture to attend. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ Thankfully we’ve been gone from for quite a while! :mrgreen:

  6. A simple twisting of Scripture about a slave/master relationship or the powers that be being ordained of God gives the principal (and anybody else that feels they deserve it) plenty of “God given” authority.

    1. My first year teaching (somewhat fundy christian school with a VERY fundy principal) I asked a question during faculty meeting. It wasn’t done rudely or in a mean way. The next day I had a note in my mailbox to be in the principal’s office after school. I was given a 45 minute lecture on why it was wrong to question him. He used Proverbs 30:10 as his prooftext. It says, “Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.” He proceeded to tell me that he was standing which meant he was not to be questioned. But if he was sitting then he was on the same level with the faculty and could be questioned. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ I wish I was kidding! This man was so full of himself. One time he followed me up the stairs and took me into the faculty room to chew me out. Told me I owed him an apology. I apologized outwardly but didn’t mean it and hated him for it. He was such a pompous arrogant jerk!!

      1. Frankly, I have personally been acquainted with at least a dozen principals of fundy schools. Of those, only two could NOT be described as pompous arrogant jerks. The two soon got out, both going into public school education, where they are very successful and happy. Of the rest, most were also cheating husbands.

  7. I’d whole-heartedly sign off on #2 and #6 (assuming that the church constitution doesn’t actually have anything questionable in it), and I would make a reasonable effort at #1 and #3, although I suspect my interpretation of “providentially hindered” and “regular basis” may differ from theirs. #7 I suppose is a reasonable thing to have in a contract, so long as no one tries to change it on me.

    #4 and #5, though, we might have to disagree on. Severely disagree.

        1. What it really means (Truth in employment):

          1) You are not able to worship at a church other than your employers. We will also tell you how many church services to attend. We say it is three services per week (3 to thrive!), but it also includes a fourth service: Sunday School. Four times a year you will have to attend 6 services per week (plus some daytime workshops)because of special conferences, plus staff conferences and ladies conferences. We will run your calendar because we basically own you.

          2)Not only will you follow the church constitution (Do we even have a copy of that around here?), but you will also follow all of our extra unwritten rules/standards whether they are biblical or not. If the pastor decides to ban something, you will immediately stop doing it – without question, and your entire family likewise. Mrs. Smith, did we tell you your shirt collars can not be under two finger spaces below your clavicle bone? Well, now you know.

          3) You will have to go soul-winning in crime ridden neighborhoods each and every week. You will have to turn in an activity form and show just how many doors you’ve knocked on, how many tracts were handed out, how many cards were mailed out, and how many phone calls were made. Family time is time spent together at church…or soul-winning together. Your family really does not need an entire day off at home together. So get busy!

          4)Under no circumstances will you question the pastor. It does not matter what he says or does, he is always right – just because he says so. If last year facebook was outlawed, but this year he allows it but requires the kids to turn in their passwords, and next year he bans it again; he just had another special revelation from God and you will support it unconditionally. The principal is merely the pastor’s mouthpiece, but this means you must obey him in the pastor’s place.

          5) See #4. You are to stand 100% behind the administration no matter how wretched or immoral our decisions are. We understand that in our state you, as a teacher, are a manditory reporter; But if a student brings an accusation against an upstanding member of this church, you are to report it to the principal ONLY and then let us handle it. You are NEVER to bring it up again. We will be sure it is “properly handled”. ๐Ÿ™„

          6) Now matter how you are feeling, you will appear chipper and joyful and just plain happy to be here at all times. No matter how unfairly you, your family, or your class is treated, you are to paint a permanent smile on your face.

          7) As you have placed serving God about serving self you have agreed to accept a very low salary. Yes, we know public school teachers earn twice what you do, but they did not make God their #1 priority the way you have. If you ever find out the pastor makes about 16 times your salary, do not be dismayed. He makes what a CEO of a similar size secular corporation earns and he is worth it. Oh, and this parking space is reserved for the pastor and his new luxury SUV. Please park your 1989 Toyota Tercel in one of the spaces out behind the school buildings. By the way, have you been praying for our annual building banquet? Remember, it is not equal giving, but equal sacrifice.

  8. #4 needs to be spelled out in detail as to what that authority is and how far it extends into the students, faculity, and staff’s personal lives. If it is a carte blanche declaration then you are signing up with a cult.

  9. For a number of really hard to explain reasons, this post is very apropos for me today.

    The ones I have seen personally have been much less succinct than this. Mostly they explain in detail what they mean by each point, but the basic premise is the same.

    Those who work for ministries should consider what they do to be service in addition to employment, many times the salary vs. work makes it clear that it is in part service, but a servant is not the same thing as a slave.

    @ Frustrated – I loved the phrase :”don’t attribute arrogance to God” ok in reality it makes my stomach hurt, but its so true it hurts.

  10. The fundy church that I was song leader at didn’t consider my son’s weekend baseball tournaments which I wouldn’t miss for those sour mugs as “proventially hindered” and I was replaced. I’ll bet that I gained more than they did on those week ends.

  11. What it really means (Truth in employment):

    1) You are not able to worship at a church other than your employers. We will also tell you how many church services to attend. We say it is three services per week (3 to thrive!), but it also includes a fourth service: Sunday School. Four times a year you will have to attend 6 services per week (plus some daytime workshops)because of special conferences, plus staff conferences and ladies conferences. We will run your calendar because we basically own you.

    2)Not only will you follow the church constitution (Do we even have a copy of that around here?), but you will also follow all of our extra unwritten rules/standards whether they are biblical or not. If the pastor decides to ban something, you will immediately stop doing it โ€“ without question, and your entire family likewise. Mrs. Smith, did we tell you your shirt collars can not be under two finger spaces below your clavicle bone? Well, now you know.

    3) You will have to go soul-winning in crime ridden neighborhoods each and every week. You will have to turn in an activity form and show just how many doors youโ€™ve knocked on, how many tracts were handed out, how many cards were mailed out, and how many phone calls were made. Family time is time spent together at churchโ€ฆor soul-winning together. Your family really does not need an entire day off at home together. So get busy!

    4)Under no circumstances will you question the pastor. It does not matter what he says or does, he is always right โ€“ just because he says so. If last year facebook was outlawed, but this year he allows it but requires the kids to turn in their passwords, and next year he bans it again; he just had another special revelation from God and you will support it unconditionally. The principal is merely the pastorโ€™s mouthpiece, but this means you must obey him in the pastorโ€™s place.

    5) See #4. You are to stand 100% behind the administration no matter how wretched or immoral our decisions are. We understand that in our state you, as a teacher, are a manditory reporter; But if a student brings an accusation against an upstanding member of this church, you are to report it to the principal ONLY and then let us handle it. You are NEVER to bring it up again. We will be sure it is โ€œproperly handledโ€.

    6) Now matter how you are feeling, you will appear chipper and joyful and just plain happy to be here at all times. No matter how unfairly you, your family, or your class is treated, you are to paint a permanent smile on your face.

    7) As you have placed serving God about serving self you have agreed to accept a very low salary. Yes, we know public school teachers earn twice what you do, but they did not make God their #1 priority the way you have. If you ever find out the pastor makes about 16 times your salary, do not be dismayed. He makes what a CEO of a similar size secular corporation earns and he is worth it. Oh, and this parking space is reserved for the pastor and his new luxury SUV. Please park your 1989 Toyota Tercel in one of the spaces out behind the school buildings. By the way, have you been praying for our annual building banquet? Remember, it is not equal giving, but equal sacrifice.

    1. When I began teaching in a fundy school in 1980, the pastor told me I had to get my unlisted phone number changed to a listed one. I refused. He told me I was not allowed to be gone ON SATURDAYS, in order to drive a family member three hours each way to visit her spouse who was IN PRISON. I did it anyway. The principal was a lecherous oaf who made improper advances to me. The pastor covered it up. I had to share my tiny apartment with a roommate, to make ends meet; he and his family lived in the most expensive subdivision in town, and drove a new car.
      Sadly, in 31 years, I doubt much has changed, there, or in any fundy school. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

      1. So sorry to hear your story. It angers me what a pastor enriches himself at the expense of his people. I have friends who go to a church where the pastor has a luxury custom home in a great neighborhood, with satellite TV and a wide-screen TV, while many of the members struggle and live in trailer homes. I think their pastor lives better than the richest member of the church.

      2. “I was in prison, and you would have visited Me, except that somebody who claims to speak for Me said that you should do unpaid menial work for him instead.”

        1. Thank you, Jenny. I thought of the original of that verse so many times, back then. Also, since that time, but in a different location, that pastor had an affair, had to leave pastoral ministry, etc. I am not saying I never sin, or that I am somehow above that, but or pete’s sakes, my “sin” was obeying the promoting of the Holy Spirit. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

  12. The “providentially hindered” phrasing reminds me of another one I heard a lot of: “Lord willing.”

    e.g., We’re going to get lunch at Inn-n-Out today, Lord willing.

    Really? Lord willing you’ll walk to your car and turn on the ignition and drive to the Inn-n-out and order your lunch?

    1. 1 Corinthians 4:19
      But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have.

  13. If I was applying to work at a school (and it did happen several times over the past year) and saw that contract, I’d run away. That is scary. Other than the point to be Christlike, everything on there tells me that I’m going to get screwed by the institution. Way to keep your teachers in line.

    On another note, I did apply to a Christian school out here in SoCal and a point on their contract that frightened me was, “I will not engage in any behavior that ANY Christian may find controversial.” I can’t think of any behavior that some Christian wouldn’t have some issue with. Needless to say, I saw it as an obvious trap to give the school leverage to fire you for something trivial if they did not like you. I declined the rest of the application.

  14. as for #6… and the “Christ-like attitude”… I assume turning over tables at the open house (for the parents/teachers/students whom are taken advantage of) would be seen as acceptable!? It is fun to fantasize.

  15. I’m enjoying what I’ve read here. I like the form proposed by “pastor’s wife”; perhaps I should design forms for everyone that makes me sign a form with a form of my own. My thoughts to the original:

    1) Agree, but “providentially hindered” means that my God-given authority (pastor or principal) has loaded me up with more work that can be reasonably accomplished. I will use church time to work such tasks. If you don’t like it, stop “providentially hindering” me.

    2) Agreed, but “questionable practices” must be shown to be wrong from Scripture, not someone’s preferences; you may PREFER than women not wear open-toe sandals, but it is not a “questionable practice”.

    3) Neat! Can “regular” mean twice a year?

    4) Agreed, but let us remember that the God-given authority of the Pastor and Principal have limits (that is, they are not absolute authorities).

    5) Agreed, but it will be very hard if your decisions go against Scripture.

    6) Agreed. You do know that Jesus Christ rebuked the Pharisees, right?

    7) Agreed. Do not change my salary or jobs I need to do during the year without re-negotating the contract.

  16. I had to sign something similar to this (it was called a covenant) when I was in choir. We had to sign it because the choir and church were so small, and it was a way to get people to show up … out of guilt. This was just prior to me leaving my fundy church.

    I have a guy friend that told the MOG that he wasn’t going to sign it because it was ridiculous. I still admire him for that. Not long after this covenant stunt, there was a mass exodus (relatively “mass”) of “college/career” Sunday School members. It was truly the beginning of the end for me because this covenant was used against me a few times. I shouldn’t have signed it, but looking at the MOG and telling him I wouldn’t would have taken everything I had.

    This takes all focus off the Word and puts all the focus on “Pastor/Principal” obligation. Showing up to church/school is no longer about glorifying God, it’s all about “because I signed the covenant”.

    1. Similar memories here. Not only were we supposed to go “soul-winning”, we had to fill out slips each week. I remember multiple occasions being chased down by staff people or their assistants because I didn’t fill out my slip. I told them I had nothing to report, but they still insisted that I fill one out, even if I didn’t go. They would pass out quarterly reports showing us what we reported.

      I refused to be “shamed” into going out on their Thu night “manipulate the innocent/nice” runs.

      So glad that I’m not under that anymore.

      1. Yup, we were hunted down if we did not turn in our forms too. Sunday school Dept heads had to give a public announcement to the congregation about their dept statistics each Sunday night right before the official start of the Sunday night service, so they needed everyone’s stats.

  17. I remember everything my old fundy church/school put my mom through. They used and abused her. She was never home – always planning another banquet, teaching another class, decorating for another higher-up’s kid’s wedding etc. She is extremely talented with event planning and cooking and they used that. My dad finally got fed up and started answering her phone whenever they called and telling them “no” for her before they could manipulate her anymore. I was in elementary and I knew it was wrong.

  18. Are these the types of schools that require job applicants to put the date they were saved on application forms? I still remember the shock, outrage, and almost physical disgust I felt when I saw that question on a job application for the local Christian school. I’ve said before that from a Lutheran/Anglican perspective, this is like asking job applicants to describe exactly what they do in bed with their spouses.

  19. Fundie schools- where I learned to sign contracts with no intention of following through.

    I just began working at a magnet schools. They actually told the new teachers we CAN’T take on extracurricular clubs/ etc. until we are settled so we can focus on family, health, and *gasp* TEACHING. I love it!! And many Christians work there too.

  20. Just this past Wednesday I got a similar form that I will have to sign in order to continue teaching Sunday school for this next year. I will not be signing it and I will not be teaching Sunday school. It doesn’t say to go “soul winning” regularly but every week and that if you miss a week you have to make it up later on. Of course it has the dress standards and that you have to be at every service unless “providentially hindered” by sickness or your job, so I guess they mean God hindered you. It says though we as leaders are better than no one we have to set a standard above everyone else’s in order to be an example. I don’t want to be above everyone else, I don’t want to be looked to as an example. I don’t want to go to church there anymore. I want out of there so bad. I think this next week will tell the tale. By this time next week we may be out. I sure hope so. I’d appreciate any prayers since there is bound to be a painful showdown with the pastor. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

  21. A couple more or less random thoughts to accompany this. Who would actually contemplate signing a piece of garbage as cited above? Anyone who would even consider this course of action has no self respect and is probably high into the bargain.
    Point 2. In these times, when everyone has access to just about anything if (s)he wants it, how can people continue to delude themselves into following along in the footsteps of the ancestors?
    I am well aware not everyone shares my atheist-agnostic viewpoint. That is not much of an excuse for enslaving oneself. AND, no one is even pointing a gun!! Just venting some steam, folks.
    Back tomorrow, in a better mood.

    1. I signed one for six years that was way worse than this. This is how I did it:

      Year One: It’s a job. After sending out over 90 resumes, it was the only offer I got because I was applying for high school positions and I don’t coach sports.

      Year Two: It might get better. And I love my students.

      Years Three-Six: I am a horrible person and a bad teacher and I am lucky to have a job at all so I have to stay here or be unemployed.

      See, I had self-esteem in the beginning. They beat it out of me over the first two years.

      1. I signed a contract because it was the only job I could find. Would have been better off working for Wal-mart.

        Stayed four years because the kids were great and I thought I was making a difference. About killed me, and really put me behind financially.

  22. Of course they need to make sure you’re working hard and keeping all the rules so you EARN that big pay check they hand you every month; now, if you’re a female – especially a married one – yours will be significantly lower than that of your husband and the other males who work there. We all know you’re not quite as valuable and should soon be at home getting pregnant and eating twinkies.

  23. The school I went to required all high school students to sign an agreement each year. It included:

    No secular music (only specified stations)
    No movies
    No dating unless doubles
    No kissing
    No drinking

    You get the idea. Two students, one a teachers daughter, were suspended for 3 days because he gave her a kiss on the cheek in the hallway. I never knew if the teachers had to sign something, but it would make sense.

    1. I’d guess that most of those students become dishonest: signing it because they have no choice but breaking these rules and others behind people’s backs. Others keep the rules and grow proud and self-righteous.

      Christian schools keep trying to add more specific rules to keep their young people chaste and innocent, but the only way to reach that goal is for each individual student to allow the Holy Spirit to control him or her. Rigid external rules cannot produce what only God Himself can do.

  24. Thirty some years ago my good old Dad asked if he could read through all the job offers I was getting back then from Christian schools. I said sure, wanting to get his advice. He was a speed-reader and could assimilate large volumes of written material quickly. He expressed several concerns after reading information from some 30-50 schools–maybe even more than that.

    Here they are:

    1) I think these places are cults; you better be careful about going into these schools.
    2) Sounds like most of these places are using the school as a gimmick to build the church and get free labor from the teachers as they are required to serve in the church on top of their job teaching.
    3)Sounds like most of the “contracts”–if they can really be called contracts–require you to sign your life away to the church.[My Mom was a public school teacher and he dug out her contract to show me just how different a “real” contract was in relation to the ones being used by Christian schools.]
    4) He warned that most of the schools were under the ultimate authority of a pastor–who LACKED BOTH educational training and credentials to even run a school–not even the public schools could put together a quality program with all their funding and Masters and PhD level superintendents and principals. So what made these pastors really think THEY could do a better job than the public schools with NO training??
    5) His final assessment–Son, I am afraid that if you spend 30 years of your life in these kind of cult schools, because that is all they really are; to indoctrinate kids in what their church teaches; you will find yourself tossed aside like an empty can after spending 30 years of your life working for a pittance, sacrificing yourself for their church and school cult, and end up with nothing to show for it–not even a retirement pension. After reaping the benefits of your life, they will toss you out with NOTHING.

    Here I sit 30 years later with a part-time job, no retirement, and nothing to show for 30 years of sacrificial teaching. I don’t blame God; I blame the men who perpetrated the scam we call “christian education” –think I am too harsh? Just take a look for yourself at what most ‘christian’ schools have become. Most have closed–good riddance. And most of the ones still struggling ought to close because they have fallen so far from the original plan of real Christian education . . . IF there really ever was a plan in the first place extending beyond the personal empires of the pastors who started the movement.

    Well, all I can say now is this: I cannot say I was not warned. I miss my Dad. He was a Christian with an uncanny ability to see through the phony shams–I didn’t listen and I wish I had. ๐Ÿ˜ณ ๐Ÿ˜• ๐Ÿ™„ ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

  25. Hey guys, I know this is almost a year after the original post, but I just wanted to say thank you. I am sitting here contemplating signing on for a third year at my fundy Christian school, and reading this post really cemented in my mind what I already knew – I have to get out. Thanks, thanks, thanks for this website and this post.

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