Thursday, January 18, 2007

To pay or not to pay? That is the question.

In our group on Tuesdays we are studying Ephesians. This week we were in the beginning of the fourth chapter. Specifically the verse that says (ph) "to some were given to be pastors, to others prophets, to others evangelists, to others teachers," etc. Nowhere in that passage, or anywhere else that I've found, does it say that out of that group the pastor is the most important role. Now I've kinda had that thought in my mind my whole life. When I was a kid and my Dad was still doing concerts, he used to share an example about the fact that God gave us all a job to do. Even down to the janitor, every job is just as important as the next. You know, the whole "parts of the body" analogy from Corinthians. Each part has a purpose. No part can do the job that is another parts job. The body only works when all parts are doing their own job. It all makes perfect sense. But why don't we really believe that?

What I mean by that question is why do we place the pastor as the number one person within a church? I know we need leadership and all that; but is the pastor actually supposed to be the leader? I don't find that written anywhere. The pastor is the one that shares his heart and the Word of God with the 'members' of the body. I find no reference to a pastor being a do-all-end-all. But yet that's what happens in most every church. With all the talk about the hand being no more important than the ear, why do we make the pastor the head? It's gotten so bad in some churches that if you cut off the head the body would die. You know what I mean?

One of my brothers threw out an interesting question on Tuesday along this same vein: Is it right that we pay pastors? A paid pastor is set up to be supported by a church. As being [most of the time] the only paid person in the church, their 'job' is to be the head of all things. The church expects it b/c they are paying him. And why shouldn't they? To give you have to get something in return. The fact that even suggesting a no-pay pastor is just ludicrous and stupid. But is it really? Without name-dropping, there are some denominations that don't pay their pastors. The pastor has a 'day job' and is only responsible for doing the preaching on Sunday. The members of these churches, as well as their leaders, do what we would consider the rest of the pastor's role. Visiting the sick, office work, setting up meetings, etc. Those churches are thriving and growing and are in no danger of crashing without a pastor at the helm. So the arguments that people immediately throw up against this concept fall on deaf ears to these organizations. Is there something there we should take a look at?


There is a lot more to this idea than I can fit into one post and I promise to write more soon. But this is enough to get people talking and thinking.

7 Comments:

Blogger Rob Osborn said...

I don't know if you're asking for answers here or not, but here is what my response would be to this line of thought.

There is stong Biblical precedence for paying people to be full time ministers. In the old testament, God set apart the entire Levite tribe for ministry, and mandated that they be financially supported through the tithe of the other 11 tribes. In the new testament we see Paul supporting himself through a day job, but that doesn't negate God's original system. I think that many of today's churches use a mixed system where some people are paid for full time work, and some are volunteer. I don't have a problem with either system, if it is accomplishing God's will through the church.

Good thoughts, Sam. I'm looking forward to digging into some of these quesions with you.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Yeah Rob, that was actually one of the areas that needed cut to make the post shorter. I agree with you and at the same time have other opposing thoughts. If more people are interested in this I'll write about it. If not, we'll talk!

12:40 PM  
Blogger Kyle said...

this is really interesting. please write more...

8:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Awsome topic, I look forward to more thoughts. I myself am considering both sides and would like to throw some thoughts out, and would love peoples thoughts as well. These are just some ideas that I think may start some more discussion.

If a pastor has a day job, and maybe even a family, you could probably expect alot of "friday-saturday night" written sermons. Where as a Pastor who is paid, can, and is expected to dedicate more time in prayer and preperation of a sermon.

If the pastor is paid, he is expected to visit the ill, answer the questions, prepare everything else and etc. Maybe a paid pastor actually makes the rest of the church lazy. If a congregation saw a pastor having a day job to support his family, and spending a lot of time in the Word to prep for a lesson/sermon, it might actually encourage the congregation to spend more time in ministries.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Sweet Peripety said...

Interesting discussion, Sam!

9:30 AM  
Blogger Papa D said...

I hereby add my 2 cents - and God's, too. I speak from experience but base what I say on scripture - I'd be glad to share those if you want or need them.

1. God instructs us to pay our pastors because a laborer is worthy of his hire. Good study and intense prayer is HARD WORK and very time consuming. If a Pastor prepares to preach so that people will remember and follow, he works very hard and should be paid well.

2. No, the pastor is not more important than the janitor or the singers, etc. But he is expected to be well educated, in the 'olden days' probably the most highly trained professional in town.

3. Every person has a job to do in the church, and God is crystal clear that the pastor is NOT supposed to be the 'be all do all'. In fact, if a Pastor is filling all those roles, HE is sinning because he is taking from others their joy in service and the fulfillment of using their giftedness.

4. Sadly, people have gotten lazy and think that if they throw a few bucks at a problem they've salved their conscience. Missions, for example, is to done every day in the workplace, on the streets, in offices and showrooms, on bus rides and during lunch hours. To think we can throw a few extra bucks in the plate and feel we've done our part is a lie from the pits of hell.

Now you've got me preaching! Occupational hazard, I guess.

5. On the other hand, we are to hold our pastors in high esteem, to honor them as called out by God for the task of leading and teaching God's people how to get to heaven and how to live on earth - HUGE jobs! The Bible also places a protective ring around the pastor when God says "Touch not my anointed one" and then follows it with dire consequences like death and destruction. It is serious business to mess with God's called out ones.

6. Furthermore, the Pastor IS the leader of the people in a spiritual sense of the word, and as such should be listened to and obeyed (if he is teaching Biblically) as "one who must give an account to God." Yes, God is going to stand your Pastor in front of the throne of God and ask him to give and account FOR YOU, so please, listen to him carefully.

7. Finally a church works best when we work together. Each of us has been given spiritual gifts and they are to be used for the betterment of the body of Christ. When I use mine and you use yours, then we ALL benefit, and THAt is god's way of getting the job done. Giving respect and dignity to both Pastor and janitor, to the singers and the teachers and the givers and the visit-ers, and the visitors and the learners and the seekers - we are in this thing together and the church is at its best when we DO it together.

And that's my 2 cents.
Dad

11:59 AM  
Blogger Papa D said...

OK, 3 more cents.
I've been thinking about this subject and I would refer you to a fascinating story in Acts 13 & 14. Paul is on one of his journeys and he goes to Antioch. There he establishes a church but is persecuted so terrible that he is physically "expelled from the region"
Then he goes to Iconium where he establishes a church and is persecuted so badly that he has to run for his life.
Finally he goes to Lystra where he establishes a church but they catch up with him, stone him, and leave him for dead.

Then he finds himself in Derbe recovering from the ordeal, and then, under the anointing of God, he GOES BACK to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch for only 2 reasons - first to encourage the believers there, and second to appoint a pastor for each church.

We must, then, ponder the implications of a God who would risk Paul's life, in places where he has already almost died, just to make sure the church survived by giving them a Pastor. What does that say about God's view of the role of a Pastor? What was Paul thinking! He could have DIED out there, but he believed it was THAT important that these churches have a pastor that he was willing to take that risk. I guess the Pastor's job IS pretty important after all...
Dad

1:09 PM  

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