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 is the initial email I sent out! The next post will supply my response and appreciation to this pastor. I am gonna call him Pastor X cause I think it’s cool.
I am a Christian, having been saved at the age of 21 from a life of drug abuse and alcoholism. I have sought to walk with the Lord ever since. If I could take a few minutes of your time, I would appreciate it.
My question is this. Does the Word of God explicitly instruct any congregation to commit to a pastor a salaried position?
I have been a believer for more than half my life and have been involved (heavily) in Baptist church’s, but have been challenged lately in my studies to find clear direction for this issue. I would appreciate your assistance with this and await your reply.
The following text came from one pastor in a local church.
Thanks for sending us your email. The Word of God is clear that salaried positions within the church are entirely permissible.
OLD TESTAMENT BASIS
In the Old Testament, the Levites (those who worked in the temple) received support in the form of food, money, and even lodging. See, for example, Numbers 18:20-21 and Hebrews 7:5.
20 And the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.
21 “To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do, their service in the tent of meeting,
5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham.
THE RIGHT OF SUPPORT
In 1 Corinthians 9:3-15, Paul argued extensively that those who work hard to sow spiritual seed should be able to reap material blessing as well. However, Paul did not use that right (notice he calls it a “right”), but rather preached free of charge so that no one could accuse him of preaching the gospel for material gain, like so many false teachers did.
3 This is my defense to those who would examine me.
4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink?
5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?
6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?
7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?
8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same?
9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned?
10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.
11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?
12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.
13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?
14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting.
First Timothy 5:17-19 states that the elders who direct the affairs of the church, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching, are worthy of “double honor.” And why is this? Because the worker is worthy of his wages, and Paul uses the Old Testament image of the ox not being muzzled when he treaded out the grain.
17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
Clearly, the Bible teaches that it is permissible (and even wise) for a local church to pay those who work hard at shepherding the flock, preaching, and teaching. In some contexts (like Paul’s), it may be wise for a pastor not to accept a salary. Bi-vocational work may advance the Gospel further in some instances. Paying salaries to pastors allows them to concentrate all of their mental and physical energies on doing the work of shepherding, preaching, and teaching, thus allowing them to do these tasks most effectively.
I hope this helped.
Our next post will include my response and appreciation for this pastors desire to help me understand. Hope you can visit and comment.
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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.