the weblog of Alan Knox


Posted by on Dec 28, 2006 in elders, office | 23 comments

A few days ago, we were discussing employment at work (of all places). I asked some of my coworkers the following question: If this company stopped paying you, would you still come into the office and do what you do now? (This assumes that they are working.) No one would continue doing their job if they were not paid.

So, I asked the follow-up question: Would your pastor continue to do what he does if he were not paid?

So, I ask this to my readers… What are pastors responsible to do because they are believers and followers of Christ? What are they responsible to do because they are pastors – examples, teachers, and leaders to God’s flock? And, what are they responsible to do because they are employed by a church organization? Which of these responsibilities does God allow them to stop doing if the pay stops?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 12-29-2006


    That is an interesting question. Without naming any names, let us just pretend that I know someone who knows someone who knows someone who is a paid pastor. He is not a full-time/vocational pastor, but he does receive some renumeration. He does however believe that he should be paid a full-time wage and will admit that he is unable to do a lot of things expected of him because he has to work a separate full-time job. The things he is unable to do include many types of visitations. For some reason pastor-visitation seems very important. I am not really sure what else he cannot do and should according to his “job description.”

    Frankly, I’m not sure what part of the Bible that description is in.

    I hope you had a good Christmas – see you Tuesday.


    P.S. I yelled at a Church in a dream the other night – they kicked someone out because he was late for his “job” and told him to go somewhere else if he wanted to do that “job.” *grin*

  2. 12-30-2006


    Don’t you think you are comparing apples to oranges here? Isn’t the reasoning for pay for ministers fundamentally different from any other paid position, secular, public, etc.?

    And are you prepared to exercise this same logic to other ministerial “employees”; denominational workers, church staff (secretaries, custodians, etc.), collegiate ministry, and so on?

    I know I am new to your blog, and I do not like being a voice of dissent, but it sounds like you are invalidating a lot of the makeup of our churches. Several things may need overhauling, no one would disagree there; but if I am following your line of reasoning, invalidation seems to be where you are leading.

    Every good blessing in Christ,

  3. 12-30-2006


    Thanks for the questions. I certainly do not mind voices of dissent. In fact, I would love to hear biblical validation for “a lot of the makeup of our churces.” Unfortunately, I haven’t heard it yet. I am not attempting to invalidate anything. I am attempting to be as scriptural as possible.


  4. 12-30-2006


    I must admit, this post touches a nerve, so please forgive me if I came off harsh.

    My simple fear is that in trying to be more biblical and saying that paying pastors has no NT foundation, may I ask, is the practice clearly prohibited by the NT?

    Sorry, I am new to your blog, so I haven’t gotten my arms wrapped completely around your line of thinking.

  5. 12-30-2006


    Thanks again for commenting. Please re-read my post. I never said that paying pastors is non-biblical. I asked three questions concerning pastors and their responsibilities (God-given responsibilities according to Scripture). This post is not about whether or not it is biblical to pay pastors.

    That may come later though.

    Thanks again for your comment.


  6. 12-30-2006

    I’m currently in the full-time volunteer pastor camp. I guess my answer to the question “Would your pastor continue to do what he does if he were not paid?” I really don’t know… I believe that he would. Speaking for myself, I guess the answer is obvious. I have to say that for all the things the church demands of me it is VERY hard to run a business, be a father, husband and pastor.

    The business is no small part of my scheduling challenges. And although it does provide a great living it really demands a great amount of my time, thoughts and energy. Were the time I spend running the company free to be used for ministry I could do much more. That time will not be free until a church (or some other source) can replace the income needed to meet my responsibilities as a father and husband. My ministry and the call to serve the Lord is a great passion and priority in my life. But God’s call on my life to be the father and husband He would have me be is a higher priority to me… I’m currently working at starting our men’s ministry. As a pastor, example, leader and example to our men and church body I must be the man God has called me to be in my own home first.

    If I were on a salary and the pay stopped I would do whatever is needed to provide for my family first…

    Great question!
    Be blessed…

  7. 12-31-2006


    Thank you for the comment. I certainly understand the feeling of being pulled in many different directions. I also agree that my first responsibility must be to my family as a husband and father.

    You said, “For all the things the church demands of me it is VERY hard to run a business, be a father, husband and pastor.” I think I understand what you are saying, but could you be more specific? What things does the church demand from you? Are those biblical requirements of a pastor? Are they things that the church expects but are not biblical expectation?

    Could it be that being the husband, father, and business owner that God has called you to be is the best way to be a pastor?

    Thanks again for commenting. I would love to continue this discussion.


  8. 1-4-2007

    Hey Alan,
    Sorry for the delay in responding. We’ve been out of town most of this week.

    Good follow up questions-
    I guess the “demands” of the church were more of a problem for us in the early stages of our church start. This was really an issue when I was the youth pastor. I LOVE student ministry!! If it weren’t for parents that job would be much easier… And quite possibly unecessary. (Don’t get me started on youth ministry) (smile)
    Basically part of the problem is this mindset that ANYTHING the church does must be led by a pastor. I’m talking about even something as simple as painting the playground at the apartments across the street from the church. (A local school we meet in) The expectation to be there every time the doors are open. And having the doors open more than two days per week. No big deal if you don’t have a job in addition to your ministry…
    These days it’s Sunday AM service and Sunday evening home groups. (we host one at our home) Tuesday night service. Thursday mornings I meet with a group of men to disciple them. The schedule has improved dramatically… More because I’ve only done “so much” and been unwilling to sacrifice my family on the altar of the institutional church. My pastor is okay with my current level of service and knows that when I can leave the business behind I’ll have more time for ministry. (back to that money thing)

    You asked”Could it be that being the husband, father, and business owner that God has called you to be is the best way to be a pastor?”
    Well, I know I’m called to the husband, father and pastor roles… Business owner? I’m not really sure about that. I think that this business is simply a vehicle God is using to provide for us financially until the church can support us. I have NO passion for this business whatsoever. Basically I do it exclusively for the money and the fact that I’m good at what I do. However, being a father, husband and pastor are things that I am extremely passionate about. If money were no object I would leave the business and never look back. I’ve only been a pastor for 4 years now and I cannot imagine being able to spend the time I spend at work in the ministry.

    Be blessed…

  9. 1-4-2007


    Thank you for the reply. I understand about travelling. We were out of town for a week ourselves.

    One of the things that I’m struggling with is whether or not I (as a pastor) should do things that are other people’s responsibilities. For example, you mentioned that parents should be raising their children and young adults (what we normally call youth). But, like you said, that is usually left to “youth pastors”. What would happen if “youth pastors” stopped doing what parents are responsible for? God certainly doesn’t expect pastors to do what he holds others responsible for.

    Or, you mentioned that your pastor is required to be at certain locations at certain times, but are these requirements from God? If he did not show up, perhaps others would take their God-given responsibility, and the pastor would be able to do his God-given responsibilities. Or, perhaps that task would not be done. But, if it is not God’s responsibility for the pastor, then is the pastor helping or hindering others by doing it?

    These are mostly rhetorical questions, but they are questions that I am dealing with in my own life.

    Also, I have been studying Acts 20 recently, where Paul gives instructions to the elders from Ephesus. It seems there are requirements for elders (or pastors as we call them). Interestingly, one of those responsibilities seems to be working with their hands (not “ministry work”) in order to provide for themselves and others (Acts 20:33-35). This always seems to be Paul’s model, and he expects all believers to follow this (2 Thess 3:6-12), and it seems he also expects pastors to work with their hands for their own support as mentioned in Acts 20. I’m trying to figure out how this works out with church organizations paying pastors a salary.

    Thanks again for the reply. Feel free to chime in if you have any insights on what I mentioned above. I was hoping that others would join us in this very pertinent conversation.


  10. 1-5-2007

    I understand the point about you not having passion in your current employment. Doing something that you are passionate about is wonderful. However, is being passionate about your work a scriptural or cultural mandate?

  11. 1-5-2007

    Mandate? Not at all, I’m not saying it’s a “mandate” from our culture or from scripture. I’m simply saying that my passion for ministry is not a fruit of the flesh, my passion for ministry is a God given desire to see His kingdom increase. My passion for ministry is to see God receive the worship that He deserves from those He created to worship and fellowship with Him… 40+ hours per week is a big part of my time that could be spent more effectively ministering to the people of our church if money were not an issue.

    I hear you loud and clear on that! Like I said, if parents were….well, parents their kids would have far less “issues” that need to be dealt with in a specific ministry for youth… I understand the ideology that if we just stop doing what we’re doing that the parents would actually step up and raise their kids…(or whatever area of ministry) This assumes that youth ministry as a whole is actually accomplishing something more than entertainment or church funded babysitting. Honestly, I don’t think much would change. These kids are (generally speaking) doing everything the kids “outside” of church do. I’d have to say the same could be said for several other areas of ministry as well.

    As I’m reflecting more and more on your questions I’m thinking that perhaps a portion of the perceived “expectations” of the church are, to some extent, a desire to be there for the people God has called me to minister to. There are simply times that I WANT to be available to minister to someone in a time of need that I just cannot make it to be with them. Now when my being unavailable is due to family obligations it’s easy for me to say, “Hey, I can only do so much”. But when my work gets in the way it really grinds my gears that i’ve got to keep this money making maching online rather than being available to minister to someone in need…. Does that make sense?

    I also agree that sometimes we do more harm than good by running to people in an effort to minister to them. Sometimes this can result in people looking to people (pastors) to meet needs in their lives that only God can meet. (I’ve been there) This can end up getting in God’s way rather than helping them to see Him as sufficient to meet their needs.

    I guess on some level it could simply boil down to individual churches deciding just how much of the pastor’s time they want. If it’s important enough to them that he be present and available for anything and everything then they will simply have to pay him to be able to meet those demands.

    Honestly it’s at this point that I sometimes wonder if I’ll accept the pay when it is offered. At that point you’re obligated to be there whether you feel God is calling you to be or not.. after all, “we’re paying you to be a pastor”… That’s the flip side of the being paid issue…

    I was reminded of something I read by R.T. Kendall in his book, The Sensitivity of The Holy Spirit. He asked the question. (not a direct quote) “If The Holy Spirit were to remove Himself from our midst, how much of what we do in the church would just continue happening without Him?” Good question… Probably most of the “stuff” we do…

    Good conversation.


  12. 1-5-2007

    Alan and Brandon,

    I have enjoyed reading your conversation on this important topic. Brandon, I do have one question for you. Do you view your business as an opportunity to be able to minister to others?


  13. 1-5-2007


    You make some very intereting observations. For example, you seem to indicate that, in your experience, “youth pastors” do not accomplish much. Could that be because they are focusing on things that they are paid by a church organization to do, but that are not their God-given responsibilites?

    I thought your next to last paragraph (beginning with “Honestly…”) was very interesting. If we are doing things only because we are paid to do them, are we truly being obedient to God? If we are doing things that God does not want us to do – he wants others to do them – are we being disobedient and helping others to be disobedient?


    That is a very interesting question. I know you asked Brandon, but I will answer for myself. I understand that God has called me to minister (that is, “serve people”) in any situation that he has placed me in, including my occupation. For me, no situation or location or time is more “ministry” related than any other.


    Thanks for the great discussion! Please, keep commenting!


  14. 1-5-2007

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that youth pastors don’t accomplish much. I will say that youth ministry in general has been a failure based on the fruit (or lack thereof) beared. During my brief experience (2-1/2 years) as a youth pastor we had some great breakthroughs with several students. Dealing with issues like pornography, drugs, pre-marital sex, alcoholism and homosexuality. These students were VERY open and transparent about the real issues they were facing. We were able to get to a place of ministry with them where they were not just dealing with what I call “church sins”… You know, unspoken prayer requests and such. I would attribute this to being very real with them and NOT being entertainment driven. I have also worked under youth pastors that simply refused to challenge students with the deeper issues and doctrines for fear that someone might feel “left out” or because a parent would complain that their child wasn’t getting enough events… Anyway, it’s not a hopeless or useless ministry. It’s just often not life changing for the students. That could indeed be linked to their being paid to do as the church tells them to do… interesting point. Most fellow youth pastors I have spoken to often complain about their senior pastor as much as the parents. It’s hard to be effective when you’re being micro managed by someone not CALLED to youth ministry.

    If we are only doing ANYTHING because of the pay alone then I’m not sure how that is being obedient to God other than when we are submitting to the authorities He has placed over us (Senior Pastor or elders)and where we must provide for our families… Interesting thoughts.

    You asked “Do you view your business as an opportunity to be able to minister to others?”
    Well, you’d have to know more about my business. My only real interaction with my clients is to send them a bill and get a check for the services my crew does each month. There is an occaisional phone call but for the most part it’s a very non-relational service business… If I misunderstood your question please let me know.

    Be blessed…

  15. 1-5-2007


    My statement “youth pastors don’t accomplish much” was based on your statement, “This assumes that youth ministry as a whole is actually accomplishing something more than entertainment or church funded babysitting” and your statement that if youth pastors stopped doing what they would doing, nothing much would change.

    I agree that these concepts are interesting. The question is, are they biblical and if they are, what do we do about them?


  16. 1-6-2007

    Sorry for the confusion, I was just trying to say that many of the areas of ministry that the institutional church is so fond of are largely ineffective. I’m not trying to single out youth ministers or youth ministry alone. That’s just where the majority of my experience in ministry is. It could be that a portion of the problem stems from paying pastors a salary but I’m not sure to what extent that is true.

    I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking when you said “The question is, are they biblical and if they are, what do we do about them?” It’s late and I’m a bit slow from time to time…

    Be blessed…

  17. 1-6-2007


    I almost missed your comment. I’m glad that you are continuing this discussion. It has been very encouraging for me.

    I also did not mean to imply that there is no benefit to youth ministry, or that only youth ministry is ineffective, or that paying pastors is the root of all ineffectiveness. I believe that many of these symptoms have the same root cause, though. I think that root cause is a misunderstanding about what the church is and about the responsbilities of elders and other leaders compared to the responsibilities of all believers.

    This was the purpose of my originial post. We got off topic a little, but that is probably alright. I am still think about roles and responsibilities, specficially what does Scripture say and where does that differ from what our institutions (to use your term) say.

    If you have any further thoughts on the God-given responsibilities of elders and how those responsibilities change when the elder is paid, I’d love to hear it. Or, if you have a comment on anything else we’ve been saying here, I’d love to hear that as well.


  18. 1-6-2007

    Heather and I have been discussing this lately trying to figure out why we (the church, both institutional and body) do the things we do…whether the things we do are biblical or extra biblical.

    For instance, “visitation” or outreach or whatever you call it, it’s the one night per week that the church designates to go out into the community to spread the gospel. Where does that come from? Aren’t we supposed to do that anyway? Do we really need to pay someone to organize this and come up with a strategy to get the people interested???

    This speaks to the fact that Christians are babies (generally speaking) that WANT to be spoon fed everything from raising their children (youth/children’s ministry) to learning the Word of God to witnessing… “Here’s your FAITH outline and here’s how you need to present it…F, F is for Forgiveness….”.

    Sorry about the rant but this has been on mind for some time now. I guess with a new church start my expectation has been that we would make a totally new start…not a continuation of programs, formulas and spoon feeding. sigh…

    With all the spoon feeding it’s no wonder the church finds it necessary to pay people to minister full time…sheep eat a lot and constantly. That means the shepherds will be too busy to do anything else but FEED them.

    So, that does not have any biblical basis but it is at least one reason that we do things the way we do them…IMHO.

    Sorry about getting off topic earlier. 😉

    Be blessed…

  19. 1-6-2007


    I don’t think you got off topic actually. I think our topic took all of us to different implications.

    I’m glad to hear that you two are discussing these issues. Many people just accept the way things are, and assume that the way things are is the way they should be. I’m not upset when someone disagrees with me, if they have thought things through and present a biblical explanation. It does upset me when believers do things without thinking about them and without checking Scripture.

    I think many of the things that you mentioned fall into the latter category. I also think much of what we expect pastors to do falls into a category that I call “representative obedience“. We know from Scripture that God requires certain things of his children, but as long as we get someone to do it for us, then we’re okay… (sigh)

    I have a theory… if leaders stop spoon-feeding people, then one of two things will happen: 1) those who are God’s people will find that God will feed them himself, or 2) those who are not God’s people will not truly care. There may be other possible outcomes, but those are two that I’ve thought about.

    Thanks again for the discussion.


  20. 1-7-2007

    To run with your theory for a minute…I think you’re correct. The problem is, sheep can be VERY impatient too. If we stop spoon feeding them then they will just find another shepherd with a spoon in his hand. I do realize that where you said “we” in your last response you were referring to pastors collectively.

    Unfortunatly, apathy and nescience would seem to be the two driving factors behind “the way it is” today in ministry. I don’t believe that paying pastors in and of itself is a bad thing. I do think that it has lead to some bad things where the church is concerned today.

    And just being transparent here, sometimes thinking about this too much leads me to say, “well, that’s just the way it is…”. I think I come to that conclusion because it drives me crazy not to have a concrete solution.

    This discussion has helped me though. (smile) The first step in solving a problem is recognizing that there IS a problem. Hello, my name is Brandon and I’m a sheep spoon feeding pastor…Hi Brandon….

    I was just reminded of the “time to make the donuts” guy in the Duncan Donuts commercials. “Time to make the donuts…”. Sometimes spoon feeding ministry can become like that…Time to feed the sheep.

    I do want to clarify one thing for anyone who is reading this. I want to emphasize that I do love the sheep. I think that’s where my disatisfaction with the satus-quo comes from. It’s painful to see that they are “poor, blind, naked and they do not know it”. (Rev 3:17) I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t come across as if I’m looking down my nose at the body of Christ.

    So anyway, so how do we get from “here” to “there”? I’m not sure…

    Be blessed…

  21. 1-7-2007


    You asked, “How do we get from ‘here’ to ‘there’?” That is an excellent question. I do not know all of the answers yet. Some suggest that we should not attempt to change the way the church operates today – that’s just the way it is. Others suggest that we completely scrap everything about today’s church. I think the answer may be somewhere in between those two.

    For me, I am trying to determine what needs to change – that is, what is not scriptural. Then, I am trying to live and teach the scriptural model.

    I’d be interested in hearing other people’s suggestions in how to get from ‘here’ to ‘there’.

  22. 1-8-2007

    Alan, Brandon, and all others,

    I’m getting in late on the discussion. I would like to share a little about myself, but I will wait for another opportunity, but you ask how to get from “here” to “there”?

    I think the answer is both simple (not complex) and difficult (not easy). Do it.

    Model it, I mean. God has given both myself and my dear friend Dougald the opportunity to affect the way our church does missions. Rather than trying to challenge everyone to get on board or step aside, we have planned and accomplished goals toward a long term vision for church-based missions. We have a long way to go, but our pastor has been gracious and we have done things on our own time and money. (The trips have been supported but I mean other costs related to the process). So other trips have been planned, and been very successful, and so have our trips, but I think growth is taking root. Are we the great white hope for our church? No, but by trying to model the convictions we hold from scripture, people are taking notice and catching on. We have even changed from this.

    I am convinced we will understand more when we obey it! And this has proved true in my life. When others see that and try it, then we begin to get from “here” to “there”. Simple solution, but difficult (and long term!).

    Hang in there, and trust God! Cast your burdens onto Jesus for he cares for you!


  23. 1-8-2007


    Thanks for jumping into this discussion. You are not late.

    I think you are correct. We must be obedient to what God has revealed to us and what God has called us to. This is difficult when others don’t understand. But, we’re not responsible for how others respond, only how we respond.

    Thanks again,



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