Friday, January 19, 2007

To pay or not to pay? Part two

I guess it was an interesting enough topic judging by the comments.
Rob, I echo your thoughts on the Levites. Whole sections of whole books of the Bible describe what the Levites role in the temple was, and how they were to be supported. And no, the fact that Paul supported himself does not negate God's original purpose. But I have to wonder if Jesus' time on earth did? Those books of the Bible describe in great detail what kinds of animals to sacrifice, the killing of these animals, the proper spilling of their blood, what the Levites were to wear while doing it, and finally who and how to enter the Holy of Holies...The place where God was. Only a chosen few could approach God. When Jesus died, the curtain to that place was ripped in half to "allow all believers access to the Father." Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and an ultimate end to the use of the Levites and all they did in regards to sacrifice.

As for the Acts 13&14 story my Dad shared, he was wrong on some details. [If it sounds like I'm always argumentative with my Dad, we just debate in the same form. We do have a great relationship.] Paul was only persecuted/stoned in one city. The others he left in anger after he heard the Jews were mad at him. "So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium." Acts 13:51. And he didn't appoint a "pastor" in chapter 14; he appointed "elders." Plural. I checked in two study guides and neither translated that word into pastor in that specific reference. The elders were leaders of all kinds and were indeed very important. But they weren't necessarily pastors.

I get the impression that some people think I'm bashing the pastor's role. Please know I am not in any way saying that the pastor's role isn't super-duper important. But as Andrew said, a paid pastor that is expected to do all roles simply makes a congregation lazy. A pastor's role is to teach. According to later New Testament teaching it is the deacon's [which is not another word for pastor despite denominational usages as such] job to do the visiting and cleaning and cooking and praying and so much more. I know, believe me I know, that preparing a sermon or a teaching is hard work. That's what the job entails. God demands it from only the people that He knows are capable of doing it. But does that automatically mean it deserves a paycheck? If so, why it more than something else that takes just as much skill and is designated to specific people?

I truly feel that called pastors are mighty men of God who have specific roles within the Body of Christ. Whether they are paid/not paid does not justify or negate that calling. Period. God does not place calls on people's lives and then lay out their 401k and health plan at the same time. That's what we humans do with it after God gives it. God only grants us the gift and asks us to use it.

In closing [now that sounds like a pastor] I want to share with you something I heard this morning: The Chinese population in Communist China from the 1940's to the 1970's grew from 2 million to 60 million. That was without church buildings or paid pastors or seminaries or programs or larger groups than 15 or anything we can't seem to do without here in the states. Wasn't that God? And wasn't that exactly the New Testament church?

Did I make you think? Did I stretch you? I hope so. I'm not trying to redefine anything, I just think we should do as the scripture says and, "question everything."


Blogger Kyle said...

i think the society we live in puts pressure for pastors to get paid. The more someone has to work to get a job, the higher they feel they deserve their wages should be. You said that preparing sermons is very difficult. I couldn;t agree more. Pastors have a very difficult job and society's standards push a salary because of it. Plus, in most churches (i'm assuming) pastors have to go through years of education before they're ordained... more reason for monetary compensation. In a perfect world, pastors wouldn't need paid, but in our world, they do.

1:42 AM  
Blogger drifter said...

I love this topic. It is so very interesting to me. I have to agree with sam that the temple veil being torn in two makes the Levite argument about as mute as rallying against pork chops.

The thought underlying the discussed topic is where I think the meat of this discussion is. Not just to pay or not to pay, because the job description that we have set up as the modern pastor needs to be paid. If fulfilling his expected role he would have little extra time to provide for his family. My question is this, "Is the role that we have set up for the Pastor in the modern church advantageous or detrimental to the growth of the church (Christ's Church - not an individual gathering)"

9:27 AM  
Blogger drifter said...

o.k. just a little more. With God's gift of technology, we have weekly video access to everyone from Rob Bell to Robert Schuller. Would it not be a better use of a fellowship's resources to spend the week doing the type of thing that separates the sheep from the goats (see Matt.25:31-46 if you need it) and then On Sunday we worship and sing and listen to the word delivered via video. Deacons of the church could handle teaching and clarification if it is needed. I realize this is only one way, one idea but it is a way to solve a major problem. On average, in the modern Protestant church, 80% of the money received goes to buildings, utilities, and salaries. About 20% on average is left for all ministries. It is just my opinion (I won't add ..and God's) but it seems we should be doing everything that we can to reverse the ratio's where we are spending 20%+- on building and salaries and 80%+- feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the stranger, comforting the HIV infected, uplifting the discriminated and disenfranchised - I could go on, but you get my point. I hope for many comments and more posts from sam on this issue.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Papa D said...

Be very careful here - the early church and the Chinese church grew as a direct result of persecution. When the church - ANY church - is persecuted, only the truly committed Christian will stick it out, and the truly committed are the ones who are the most reproductive Christians who ever existed. Why do you think the church in America is so weak and weak kneed - no pressure. Are you ready to accept the consequenses of your desire to grow - those consequenses include persecution and pain, even in America.

One last thought on the paying a Pastor thing, and the question is not about money, but respect. I believe a good pastor would sacrifice his paycheck any day if his people would respect what he says so much that they actually become closer to the Lord, more committed to the cause of Christ, and more of a disciple-maker / reproductive child of God. Please do not think this is in any way a boast, but when I was a Pastor I got a very small paycheck - and it never fully covered the expenses. So, being a pastor for 10 years actually cost me money. I have no regrets. I would do it all again given half a chance. A good pastor is in it because of the Call, and he stays because of the Call. And no amount of money on the planet can make him deny the Call and do something else. But I also note the scripture that says "you don't muzzle the ox that is grinding out the grain". A person doing a job - whether for the Lord, for the bank, for the electric company or the local carpenter shop - deserves to be paid for their labors. Just because a person happens to preach does not mean he should then be destitute. Sam, would you go to work at the bank just because you want to help people with their financial lives without getting your paycheck?

Finally, you are mistaken in one area - elders are the spiritual leaders of a church, and the Pastor is the leader of that small group. Deacons ran the every day business affairs of the church (money, helping, feeding the poor, etc). In our context, elder is not limited to, but certainly would include Pastors.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where at in the bible does it state, "to question everything"? Or where does the bible teach to question everything?

12:44 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

My thoughts.........

I do not think questioning God is wrong, as long as the question is baked by the right attitude, an attitude that wants an answer and that will act in that.

I don't feel that supporting a pasor for his calling is a bad thing. However I do feel that money in the church is. Yes, I agree that to many people through there 10% in the offering basket (if even that) and think they have done enough to be like Jesus. And it is a shame that most (steve said 80%) goes to right there in that church. Stop with the new buildings. Stop with the new projectors, stop with the pot luck dinners. There are orphanges that don't have beds for kids to sleep on, and we are complaining because the church isn't big enough. Yes, I understand that only 75% of the church will be filled on average, so if we were to build a bigger church more people will come. The non christians aren't coming to chruch anymore, even on bring a friend week. If your church is growing it is because other "chirstians" are leaving the church they were at and joining yours. It is rare that someone comments there life over to God every sunday. That is why the mega churches are surving (from memebers leaving small churches to go to the megachurch) and the small ones are not. Change will have to happen. I love the idea of church being a time of worship, a recharge, but it is no longer what an unbeliever wants. I am not even sure we want the unbelievers to be there. I am not convinced that we want gays, lesbains, democrates, cigarette smokers, etc. in our churches. We can debate all we want what "God's opinion" is, and what he would want us to do, but all I know is when I stand before him on judgement day, and when He askes how I have been a servant of him, I don't want to say, "I supported the Pastor". I would rather say I feed the hungry, our neighbors, I did clothe the naked, I was a light in the darkness, and I did lead people to you, not to my awsome pastor.

Sorry Sam, didn't mean to switch topics.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Excuse all the spelling errors,

6:00 PM  

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