Quite awhile ago I sent out an email to a number of prominent pastors (8 or 9) within the area I live in. One out of the nine responded in an effort to minister. The following conversation is with that one pastor who sought to help. I appreciate his willingness to enter into a discussion with me.
This third post is simply some wanderings and considerations I have had after my discussion with the Pastor! Give me some feed back if I’m way out of line.
Consider 1 Corinthians 9:12
Remember that the topic of this passage is support (not salary) of an apostle, a traveling minister. These verses, IMHO, do not apply to elders and pastors of local churches, who are able to maintain outside employment to assist the local body if in need.
1 Corinthians 9:12
If others (referring to other apostles – check the context!) share this rightful claim on you, do not we (Paul and his party) even more? Nevertheless, we (Paul and his party) have not made use of this right, but we (Paul and his party) endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.
Is not Paul stating that using this “right”, (that is, support from a body of believers) actually hinders (places an obstacle in the way) the gospel? This is an apostle (not an elder or pastor) teaching this truth about an apostles right to support, which Paul is refusing to exercise.
How can local pastors refer to this same passage (1 Corinthians 9) to establish this right they believe they have, and yet miss this verse?
One important item that I need to clarify, for I know what some may be thinking. I am not advocating abandonment of the Christian minister. Support and salary are two completely different topics, and the New Testament exhorts believers to support those who are ministering among them.
Support for a Christian minister, coming from those blessed from his ministry, is a direct relational blessing. If believers would remove themselves from unbiblical obligations, they could freely give funds, gifts and blessings to Biblically directed recipients, such as:
- The poor (including widows, orphans, etc)
- Travelling missionaries (those in a similar situation as the apostle in 1 Corinthians 9)
- Christian ministers that trust in God.
An additional verse that some may appeal to, to justify the salaried position within the family of God is Galatians 6:6.
6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.
Two things to notice
- The context of this verse is general Christian living, not the requirements of a contractual obligation to a separate group of specialized Christians. I once asked how this verse justifies the salary of a pastor but does not apply to a Sunday School teacher, or a “lay” Christian teaching in some manner.
- The good things are just that – good things. Encouraging words, financial help, a bag of groceries, an invitation to supper, a new car, etc.
I love the opportunity to assist those I know of that are in need, or that I “sense” may need a “blessing”. I believe the Lord is able to direct His people to assist His people. Is that wrong? Too simplistic? Too ideal?
It is becoming obvious to me, that salaried positions for local elders/pastors seems to be foreign to the New Testament.
Help me find justification for the salaried position, so that I can sense that the modern church is still somewhat on track.
Although not scripture, it is interesting to review what an early church document reveals how Christians treated this topic.
Notice what the Didache (Also known as “The Teaching of the Twelve.”) teaches.
Chapter 11. Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and Prophets.
Let every apostle that comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain except one day; but if there be need, also the next; but if he remain three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges; but if he ask money, he is a false prophet.
A little later in chapter 11…
But whoever says in the Spirit, Give me money, or something else, you shall not listen to him; but if he says to you to give for others’ sake who are in need, let no one judge him.
This topic, since I have been considering it for a period of time, was on my mind this morning, when I was visiting with a brother. He mentioned that the church he belongs to is putting on a Christmas pageant and that they had sold 14,000 tickets, ranging from $8 to $14 each. I mentioned that, at an average price of $10 per ticket, that church pulled in $140,000, and that this should pay for the minister’s salary.
Oh no no, he says – Our pastor makes $200,000, plus benefits, vacation and a yearly month-long sabbatical. Oh and this particular church has a $20,000,000 capital budget for renovations and building projects.
Silver and gold have I none – Peter – 1st century
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.