the weblog of Alan Knox

Advantages of non-hired, local leaders

Posted by on Aug 24, 2007 in blog links, elders, office | 47 comments

Advantages of non-hired, local leaders

Dave Black posted this on his blog today at 6:27 AM:

Three of the four closest Baptist churches to our farm are currently without pastors. Again. In our area most pastors last about 2 years. Then the cycle begins all over again: a pulpit committee starts looking for the ideal new “preacher.” Even though the Bible makes no distinction between “layman” and “minister,” most Baptists do. Thus most of them would never consider choosing more permanent, stable leaders from among their own congregations. But the advantages of non-hired, local leaders are numerous:
  • the fact that the pastor/elder is one of the brethren magnifies the sense of brotherhood
  • his lack of financial dependence on the group issues in independence of thought and judgment
  • it preserves the priesthood of all believers
  • the supported minister is subjected to enervating competition bidding for his services
  • a professional ministry causes a loss of identification with the people (the pastor is considered a “hireling”)
  • the congregation feels tremendous instability due to a frequent change in pastors
  • the non-hired pastor is not considered a member of a class separate from the rest of the fellowship

I wonder if rural churches caught up in the viscous cycle of revolving pastors are not just shooting themselves in the foot.

I have learned first-hand that Dave’s “advantages” are real. Are there “disadvantages” as well?


47 Comments

  1. 8-24-2007

    Alan,

    I suppose that one “disadvantage” for some would be an increased feeling of lack of comfort if there is no paid pastor. Many people have a desire to be able to look to one man as the person who will get things done and make sure that nothing slips through the cracks. The paid pastor, then, justifies his salary by taking care of those things and also doing a great deal of the ministry of the church.

    The problem with all this, of course, is that it strays so far from the biblical model. We know that the pastor/elders should be equipping the body for the work of the ministry, not doing it all by themselves.

    In reality, I think the disadvantage of discomfort (if there is no paid pastor) is actually an advantage. Why? This causes the body to all be ministers, and forces everyone to look to Christ as the real Senior Pastor.

    Ironically, most churches pay their senior pastor, when our true Senior Pastor (Jesus Christ) paid the price himself for the sin of the redeemed.

    Eric

  2. 8-24-2007

    Hi Alan-
    We’ve been part of a “non-professional pastor” (non-Baptist) church for 7 years. It has been a real blessing to to see how God works outside our cultural criteria for “church”.
    We have an attendance of about 35 people–aged 1 to 71, preschoolers to teens, homeschoolers, public school teachers, farmers, builders, retirees, a pilot, an accountant, health care & food service workers, tech specialists, housewives and others.
    The Lord has raised up 3 Elders as leaders–a CPA/farmer, a builder, and a bus driver. Others are involved in children’s ministries and home Bible studies.
    There certainly are some disadvantages and challenges, though, that serve to keep us dependent on Him.
    FIRST–We have actually lost a number of families because the church didn’t meet their expectations. In many cases, our lack of size and unique vision for the church meant that we did not try to emulate the “big guys” programs, worship style, etc. And, for some, we were too unorthodox. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are free to explore what a church is, without having to fit a mold.
    Second–The surrounding community churches were a bit suspicious and weren’t sure we were a “real church” without our own building and paid preacher. Preacher culture doesn’t take kindly to territorial infringement. Visiters weren’t too sure about joining forces with “those people”, either. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we don’t have to compete. We have been able to work side by side with other believers without their feeling pressured to become us. We have to learn to love others unconditionally.
    Third–Not having a “paid guy” means that our people have to take time away from jobs to carry out ministry needs from death calls to arranging funerals to maintenance at the building we rent to prep time for teaching. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are experiencing ministry, not just financing it. We are thrown on the Lord when we face hard situations and we are blessed.
    I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
    Kat

  3. 8-24-2007

    Hi Alan-
    We’ve been part of a “non-professional pastor” (non-Baptist) church for 7 years. It has been a real blessing to to see how God works outside our cultural criteria for “church”.
    We have an attendance of about 35 people–aged 1 to 71, preschoolers to teens, homeschoolers, public school teachers, farmers, builders, retirees, a pilot, an accountant, health care & food service workers, tech specialists, housewives and others.
    The Lord has raised up 3 Elders as leaders–a CPA/farmer, a builder, and a bus driver. Others are involved in children’s ministries and home Bible studies.
    There certainly are some disadvantages and challenges, though, that serve to keep us dependent on Him.
    FIRST–We have actually lost a number of families because the church didn’t meet their expectations. In many cases, our lack of size and unique vision for the church meant that we did not try to emulate the “big guys” programs, worship style, etc. And, for some, we were too unorthodox. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are free to explore what a church is, without having to fit a mold.
    Second–The surrounding community churches were a bit suspicious and weren’t sure we were a “real church” without our own building and paid preacher. Preacher culture doesn’t take kindly to territorial infringement. Visiters weren’t too sure about joining forces with “those people”, either. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we don’t have to compete. We have been able to work side by side with other believers without their feeling pressured to become us. We have to learn to love others unconditionally.
    Third–Not having a “paid guy” means that our people have to take time away from jobs to carry out ministry needs from death calls to arranging funerals to maintenance at the building we rent to prep time for teaching. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are experiencing ministry, not just financing it. We are thrown on the Lord when we face hard situations and we are blessed.
    I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
    Kat

  4. 8-24-2007

    Hi Alan-
    We’ve been part of a “non-professional pastor” (non-Baptist) church for 7 years. It has been a real blessing to to see how God works outside our cultural criteria for “church”.
    We have an attendance of about 35 people–aged 1 to 71, preschoolers to teens, homeschoolers, public school teachers, farmers, builders, retirees, a pilot, an accountant, health care & food service workers, tech specialists, housewives and others.
    The Lord has raised up 3 Elders as leaders–a CPA/farmer, a builder, and a bus driver. Others are involved in children’s ministries and home Bible studies.
    There certainly are some disadvantages and challenges, though, that serve to keep us dependent on Him.
    FIRST–We have actually lost a number of families because the church didn’t meet their expectations. In many cases, our lack of size and unique vision for the church meant that we did not try to emulate the “big guys” programs, worship style, etc. And, for some, we were too unorthodox. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are free to explore what a church is, without having to fit a mold.
    Second–The surrounding community churches were a bit suspicious and weren’t sure we were a “real church” without our own building and paid preacher. Preacher culture doesn’t take kindly to territorial infringement. Visiters weren’t too sure about joining forces with “those people”, either. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we don’t have to compete. We have been able to work side by side with other believers without their feeling pressured to become us. We have to learn to love others unconditionally.
    Third–Not having a “paid guy” means that our people have to take time away from jobs to carry out ministry needs from death calls to arranging funerals to maintenance at the building we rent to prep time for teaching. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are experiencing ministry, not just financing it. We are thrown on the Lord when we face hard situations and we are blessed.
    I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
    Kat

  5. 8-24-2007

    Hi Alan-
    We’ve been part of a “non-professional pastor” (non-Baptist) church for 7 years. It has been a real blessing to to see how God works outside our cultural criteria for “church”.
    We have an attendance of about 35 people–aged 1 to 71, preschoolers to teens, homeschoolers, public school teachers, farmers, builders, retirees, a pilot, an accountant, health care & food service workers, tech specialists, housewives and others.
    The Lord has raised up 3 Elders as leaders–a CPA/farmer, a builder, and a bus driver. Others are involved in children’s ministries and home Bible studies.
    There certainly are some disadvantages and challenges, though, that serve to keep us dependent on Him.
    FIRST–We have actually lost a number of families because the church didn’t meet their expectations. In many cases, our lack of size and unique vision for the church meant that we did not try to emulate the “big guys” programs, worship style, etc. And, for some, we were too unorthodox. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are free to explore what a church is, without having to fit a mold.
    Second–The surrounding community churches were a bit suspicious and weren’t sure we were a “real church” without our own building and paid preacher. Preacher culture doesn’t take kindly to territorial infringement. Visiters weren’t too sure about joining forces with “those people”, either. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we don’t have to compete. We have been able to work side by side with other believers without their feeling pressured to become us. We have to learn to love others unconditionally.
    Third–Not having a “paid guy” means that our people have to take time away from jobs to carry out ministry needs from death calls to arranging funerals to maintenance at the building we rent to prep time for teaching. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are experiencing ministry, not just financing it. We are thrown on the Lord when we face hard situations and we are blessed.
    I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
    Kat

  6. 8-24-2007

    Hi Alan-
    We’ve been part of a “non-professional pastor” (non-Baptist) church for 7 years. It has been a real blessing to to see how God works outside our cultural criteria for “church”.
    We have an attendance of about 35 people–aged 1 to 71, preschoolers to teens, homeschoolers, public school teachers, farmers, builders, retirees, a pilot, an accountant, health care & food service workers, tech specialists, housewives and others.
    The Lord has raised up 3 Elders as leaders–a CPA/farmer, a builder, and a bus driver. Others are involved in children’s ministries and home Bible studies.
    There certainly are some disadvantages and challenges, though, that serve to keep us dependent on Him.
    FIRST–We have actually lost a number of families because the church didn’t meet their expectations. In many cases, our lack of size and unique vision for the church meant that we did not try to emulate the “big guys” programs, worship style, etc. And, for some, we were too unorthodox. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are free to explore what a church is, without having to fit a mold.
    Second–The surrounding community churches were a bit suspicious and weren’t sure we were a “real church” without our own building and paid preacher. Preacher culture doesn’t take kindly to territorial infringement. Visiters weren’t too sure about joining forces with “those people”, either. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we don’t have to compete. We have been able to work side by side with other believers without their feeling pressured to become us. We have to learn to love others unconditionally.
    Third–Not having a “paid guy” means that our people have to take time away from jobs to carry out ministry needs from death calls to arranging funerals to maintenance at the building we rent to prep time for teaching. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are experiencing ministry, not just financing it. We are thrown on the Lord when we face hard situations and we are blessed.
    I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
    Kat

  7. 8-24-2007

    Hi Alan-
    We’ve been part of a “non-professional pastor” (non-Baptist) church for 7 years. It has been a real blessing to to see how God works outside our cultural criteria for “church”.
    We have an attendance of about 35 people–aged 1 to 71, preschoolers to teens, homeschoolers, public school teachers, farmers, builders, retirees, a pilot, an accountant, health care & food service workers, tech specialists, housewives and others.
    The Lord has raised up 3 Elders as leaders–a CPA/farmer, a builder, and a bus driver. Others are involved in children’s ministries and home Bible studies.
    There certainly are some disadvantages and challenges, though, that serve to keep us dependent on Him.
    FIRST–We have actually lost a number of families because the church didn’t meet their expectations. In many cases, our lack of size and unique vision for the church meant that we did not try to emulate the “big guys” programs, worship style, etc. And, for some, we were too unorthodox. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are free to explore what a church is, without having to fit a mold.
    Second–The surrounding community churches were a bit suspicious and weren’t sure we were a “real church” without our own building and paid preacher. Preacher culture doesn’t take kindly to territorial infringement. Visiters weren’t too sure about joining forces with “those people”, either. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we don’t have to compete. We have been able to work side by side with other believers without their feeling pressured to become us. We have to learn to love others unconditionally.
    Third–Not having a “paid guy” means that our people have to take time away from jobs to carry out ministry needs from death calls to arranging funerals to maintenance at the building we rent to prep time for teaching. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are experiencing ministry, not just financing it. We are thrown on the Lord when we face hard situations and we are blessed.
    I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
    Kat

  8. 8-24-2007

    Hi Alan-
    We’ve been part of a “non-professional pastor” (non-Baptist) church for 7 years. It has been a real blessing to to see how God works outside our cultural criteria for “church”.
    We have an attendance of about 35 people–aged 1 to 71, preschoolers to teens, homeschoolers, public school teachers, farmers, builders, retirees, a pilot, an accountant, health care & food service workers, tech specialists, housewives and others.
    The Lord has raised up 3 Elders as leaders–a CPA/farmer, a builder, and a bus driver. Others are involved in children’s ministries and home Bible studies.
    There certainly are some disadvantages and challenges, though, that serve to keep us dependent on Him.
    FIRST–We have actually lost a number of families because the church didn’t meet their expectations. In many cases, our lack of size and unique vision for the church meant that we did not try to emulate the “big guys” programs, worship style, etc. And, for some, we were too unorthodox. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are free to explore what a church is, without having to fit a mold.
    Second–The surrounding community churches were a bit suspicious and weren’t sure we were a “real church” without our own building and paid preacher. Preacher culture doesn’t take kindly to territorial infringement. Visiters weren’t too sure about joining forces with “those people”, either. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we don’t have to compete. We have been able to work side by side with other believers without their feeling pressured to become us. We have to learn to love others unconditionally.
    Third–Not having a “paid guy” means that our people have to take time away from jobs to carry out ministry needs from death calls to arranging funerals to maintenance at the building we rent to prep time for teaching. ADVANTAGE HERE is that we are experiencing ministry, not just financing it. We are thrown on the Lord when we face hard situations and we are blessed.
    I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
    Kat

  9. 8-24-2007

    Alan,

    On the mission field among newly planted churches… we raise up plural leadership from within the local community of believers. The pastors/elders are insiders from the community and supported from within. The church planters/missionaries are outsiders that rely on a combination of inside/outside support… never stay… always move on to start new work elsewhere… follow-up from a distance to encourage and further develop local leaders. The local leaders usually remain with the same churches for as long as they live unless there is some unusual circumstance or tragedy.

    After a generation or two… where there has been gospel/church presence for a period of time… the churches institutionalize leadership, methods and structures… morphing whatever pattern was set in the beginning into something that will maintain the institution instead of expanding kingdom. All human organizations follow this universal pattern. Unless there is divine intervention and the spiritual organism grows and reproduces overcoming the human institutional organization.

  10. 8-24-2007

    I tend to agree with you and DB now. Do you think the proposed model of unpaid elders/pastors is strictly biblical? Is pay unbiblical? Or is it a matter of pragmatics (which is to be avoided)?

  11. 8-24-2007

    Howdy
    We do simple schurch with laymen rather than “professionals.” It’s an ideal model for the kind of ministry seen in the New Testament.

    I am a new reader. Looking forward to reading more.

  12. 8-24-2007

    Wow! What a thought-provoking post. I have been thinking about this for quite some time now and these points help a great deal to solidify my thinking and convictions concerning the inherent problems associated with the clergy/laity division in our congregations.
    I do still struggle with some feelings of guilt though when i think of voicing my convictions to men who make their living as local pastors……….my local pastors. Why is that? How do I answer them when they inevitably counter with……”The worker is deserving of his wage, and you shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” ???
    This is particularly relevant to our congregation as we are now in a “transition period” since our “full-time” pastor left 2 months ago after 2 1/2 years with our congregation.
    Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
    Jon

  13. 8-24-2007

    Alan, thanks for passing along Dr. Black’s post. Though provoking, yet hard to live out. As many have already mentioned, prevailing patterns of ministry haunt attempts to break free from the past. This is a priniciple in missions. False forms of Christianity/church inhibit the spread of the gospel, especially if the forms of worship are different.

    This is not to say that it can’t be done, but it would be hard to accomplish. However, our culture is so flexible, it might just work! The emerging churches are showing that different can catch on. Now when you mix different with biblical, watch out!

    It seems to me that our way of providing pastors, from calling to seminary to search committees and then to professional church-keeper, is laden with non-biblical baggage. Not necessarily un-biblical, because our forefathers had biblical and practical issues in mind, but non-biblical in that we don’t have a pattern that corresponds with what we’re doing.

    We need more local, un-paid pastors (and more than one per church, Amen!)

  14. 8-24-2007

    Eric,

    Lack of “comfort” is a very interesting motivator. I agree that people like to feel comfortable, and paid staff add to that comfort level. I also agree with you that discomfort is actually an advantage as it forces us to rely on Christ.

    Kat,

    Great comment! Well thought out! I agree that these “disadvantages” are actually advantages. In fact, I wonder if these “disadvantages” are actually showing us that we are relying on paid professionals instead of relying on God?

    Tim,

    Thank you for the missionary’s perspective. I think the human organizations are usually put in place by well-meaning people who want to reproduce something that the Spirit did in the past or is doing somewhere else. But this statement, “Unless there is divine intervention and the spiritual organism grows and reproduces overcoming the human institutional organization”, is exactly right. Thank you.

    Ed (tenjuices),

    First, its great to see you hanging around my blog again! I’ll be completely honest… I don’t know the answers to your questions. I think they are excellent questions, but I don’t have the answers.

    Kelly,

    Welcome to my blog and thank you for the comment!

    Jon,

    First, I would suggest that you tread lightly and use much wisdom and discretion. Second, trust the Spirit to tell you when to speak and when to keep silent. Third, trust God to teach others what he is teaching you. Don’t feel like its all up to you.

    I can tell you that around a seminary environment, these thoughts are not popular. Many people agree with them “in theory”. But, and this is often stated, “vocational ministry” is the way many are planning to make a living.

    Wes,

    Yes, it would be very difficult to change the current situation. Perhaps impossible. We do serve the God of the impossibles. I do not make it my goal to change the world or even change the church. I only want to walk in obedience to what He has revealed to me and is teaching me.

    -Alan

  15. 8-25-2007

    Alan,

    Jon said…

    ……”The worker is deserving of his wage, and you shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” ???

    It would seem Jon has pointed out an elephant in the room. Have you written your thoughts on this subject in a blog post?

    Jeff

  16. 8-25-2007

    Jeff,

    Good question. I’m not sure if I’ve posted anything here, but I’ll give my short answer.

    In 1 Cor 9:9, the believer who is travelling away from his home (and therfore his source of work and income) deserves support just like the ox deserves to eat the grain while pulling the plow. Pastors/elders/bishops are not mentioned in this passage at all. The context is about believers who are travelling away from their home.

    In 1 Tim 5:18, the elders who lead well and work hard in teaching deserve double honor, just like the labor deserves his wages and the ox deserves to eat the grain. Can this honor be in the form of monetary help? Certainly. But, I would say that giving someone money in response to their service is different than giving them a wage in order for them to carry out their service. By the way, previously in 1 Tim 5:3 (just 14 verses earlier) Paul had said to honor widows (same word in verb form). Why don’t we pay widows a salary based on that verse?

    I also think that we must consider 2 Thess 3:6-12 in this discussion. Here, Paul “commands” all believers in Thess (which would include pastors, right?) to work like he did so as not to be a burden to anyone else.

    Then, more specific to pastors/elders, we should also consider Acts 20:18ff, which Paul spoke directly to the elders of Ephesus. We all like to direct pastors/elders to follow verses 28-30, but why stop there? What about verses 31-35 where Paul reminds them that he worked hard with his hands in order to provide money for himself and those with him, and he tells them to follow his example.

    So, that is my quick answer – althought it is probably a little long for a comment. Do people disagree with me? Yep, and that is okay. I’m trying to take a balanced approach considering the context and what Scripture actually says, not what it is supposed to say.

    -Alan

  17. 8-25-2007

    his lack of financial dependence on the group issues in independence of thought and judgment

    I think that many would see “independence of thought and judgment” as a bad thing. I don’t, of course, but it just struck me when reading this that many would feel that way.

    A good friend of mine told me about a “vocational pastor” he knew who came under conviction of many of these things. He announced to the board of his church that he was going to give up his salary. One of the elders (or deacons, I forget which) immediately said, “But how will we control you?”

    Hmmmmmm…

  18. 8-25-2007

    Speaking as a (half-time) paid guy in one particular situation here in Southern California:

    There are distinct advantages both ways. You could say the same thing about hiring a plumber in your house. Sure, you might save a lot of money by doing it yourself, but sometimes it’s good to have someone who has studied it, knows the potential problems, and has all the necessary tools to do the job.

    I think if you approach it that way, having a hired pastor is okay. That’s why they hired me. I’m a musician who has studied both God’s word and music, and the church wanted someone to lead in this way. Now that I’ve been here 9 years, I’m more a member than a hired hand.

    In seminary, you get the tools (hopefully) to study the word and lead people. It costs a lot of money. Obviously, it would be better if elders within local congregations would teach the young people how to study the Bible, how to read Greek and Hebrew, how to live godly lives and encourage others.

    Alan, would you be willing to do that (get a side job to pay the bills in order to teach Greek at Messiah Baptist)?

    If being a musician were able to pay my bills, I’d do it in a minute. Part of our problem is the American standard of living. We impose it on the church. The church has throughout history responded to its culture in a similar way.

    Lots of wheat and tares to sift through in this subject. Thanks for approaching it, Alan.

  19. 8-25-2007

    Steve,

    Interesting story. Thanks for sharing it. I think that mindset is more prevalent than we may think.

    David,

    There is one difference between a do-it-yourself plumber, and a pastor who is not a paid professional. The pastor, by virtue of being indwelled by the Spirit and has walked with the Lord faithfully, has all the training necessary.

    By the way… yes, I would teach Greek without pay. I already pastor without pay. I work a full-time job in computers apart from teaching Greek or pastoring.

    -Alan

  20. 8-25-2007

    David, you wrote: Obviously, it would be better if elders within local congregations would teach the young people how to study the Bible, how to read Greek and Hebrew, how to live godly lives and encourage others.

    This is exactly the point, I think. If it’s better, than we should be moving that direction.

    What I can’t understand is why ideas like this are so often identified as “better”, yet not actively pursued by so many who acknowledge that they’re better.

    Several months ago I spoke with the dean of a reputable seminary who also was acknowledging that these ideas are so much better. He said, “If churches were doing their job, we wouldn’t need seminaries.”

    Yet those seminaries (including his own) continue to churn our graduates who believe that “vocational ministry” is the way to go, and I don’t see how the seminary is trying to combat that.

    If we keep just tipping our hat to the “better”, yet doing the “not as good”, will change ever happen on a wider scale? I fear not.

  21. 8-25-2007

    A more general question, not directed specifically at David (hence the separate comment):

    Is there anything at this point in the information age, access to the internet, wealth of books available, etc. that one needs to go away to seminary to learn?

    I realize it might take a bit more work to search out resources and materials and people willing to mentor, but guys like Dave Black have made themselves and their knowledge available to the world outside their seminary through joining in the conversations on the ‘net, writing books, etc.

    What if every pastor took on an apprentice or two? What if every elder took on an apprentice or two? What if…..oh, wait, that would be called “discipleship”.

  22. 8-25-2007

    Steve,

    With no disrespect intended at all toward Jeff – who I have learned to appreciate in the last few weeks of interacting with him – I believe that the questions in your last comment point out the true “elephant in the room” that everyone tends to ignore. Or, if they do not ignore them, they simply tip their hat – as you said – or stoke them up to “ideal”, then move on with the tried-and-true, comfortable, traditional approaches. However, from what I have been reading and the discussions that I’ve been having, the “elephant” has started trumpeting and charging around the room to such an extent that he will soon be hard to ignore.

    -Alan

  23. 8-25-2007

    Alan,

    After re-reading my previous comment I realized it looked as though I was singling you out as overlooking those verses(elephant). I hope you know me well enough to know that was not my intention.;) But rather, the Body as a whole has to reconcile those difficult scriptures.

    I think there is overwelming evidence to support the unified Body, not the clergy/laity separation. But, a few verses like these can SEEM to throw a wrench in that thought process if you mistakenly take them out of context.(Which A LOT of people do)

    I think you did an excellent job of showing those verses in context. I hope you were able to discern the context of my previous comment as well. I apologize if you thought I was calling you out.

    Jeff

  24. 8-25-2007

    Is it possible (I’m not saying it is, but seriously asking the question that came to my mind) that the axioms that Paul expresses (about the ox and the workman) are metaphors in themselves?

    It’s obvious with the ox, right? Vocational pastors don’t literally tread grain and eat some of it while they’re treading.

    But what about the workman and the hire? Is Paul really saying that people should be hired in the ministry? Or is he using another metaphor there, too?

    Again, with relation to this, though, I still find it significant that Paul instructs people to provide for the needs of those who are traveling in the ministry, but he never instructs those in ministry to ask for, demand, or in any other way expect it.

    In fact, he goes the other way and says that his example (as you pointed out, Alan) is to forego any “right” to support. And says to follow his example.

    Oh that the church would get to the point where leaders would learn to give up what they perceive as their rights. Isn’t that the example of Jesus as Paul explained in Philippians 2? And he says to have that same mind in us.

    Frankly, I’m a bit weary of the continued defense (not here, but throughout the traditional system) of paychecks for pastors hired from outside the body.

    If there is a pastor who has been chosen in a biblical fashion (i.e., from among the body) because of biblical characteristics (i.e., the list Paul gives), who leads in a biblical fashion (i.e., shepherding the flock among him)…then and only then do I think he might qualify for biblical support.

    But someone who is chosen from outside that local fellowship because of his degree or resume or personality or preaching ability (none of these are ever mentioned in qualifications for elders), which appears from my unscientific evidence to be >99% of paid pastors out there…sorry. I don’t see how that can qualify as consistent with scripture. And I find it hard to believe that Paul was in any way endorsing that.

    Speaking of which, I know many, many churches who have multiple elders on a board. But I never hear anyone arguing for providing those elders with a paycheck. Only the “pastor”. Why is that? That seems like a double-standard to me. Just once, I’d love to see a paid pastor instruct his church to give paychecks to all of the elders.

    Sorry, I need to get off my soapbox here.

    I’ve never eaten elephant before, but Alan, I’m all for chopping this one up and seeing what we can do with it on a nice gas grill ;)

  25. 8-25-2007

    P.S…

    I would much rather face the tiny annoying mouse in the corner than the 800 pound gorilla riding the gigantic elephant that the “churches” have yet to acknowledge is there.

    Steve…sounds tasty, I’ll bring the drinks!

    Jeff

  26. 8-25-2007

    Jeff, cool, brother…Elephant BBQ at Alan’s place! ;)

  27. 8-25-2007

    Jeff,

    I did not think you were singling me out. However, I would not have been upset if you had wanted to single me out. We need to deal with all of Scripture. One of the things that I’m excited about is that people are finally dealing with certain parts of Scripture that have been ignored for a long time.

    Steve,

    I’m okay with an elephant bbq, as long as we use real bbq sauce and not the vinegar stuff that they call bbq around here.

    -Alan

  28. 8-25-2007

    I think what Paul is teaching us in the passage in question (of the elder, worker and ox) is a principle rather than a command to pay our elders. The principle seems to be; ‘give to each what they are due. No more………….no less’. This appears to be the use of this phrase in Deut. 25:4.

    If we understand the over-arching principle then aren’t we able to understand the text in terms of its plain/literal reading? Now we can see that the ox deserves its food, the worker deserves his money, and the elder deserves his respect. Is my thinking too simple here??

    It seems that Paul wasn’t playing word games with us after all. He actually said exactly what he meant….imagine that.

    Jon

    p.s. Thanks to all for commenting on my earlier question. Your answers have been very helpful.

  29. 8-25-2007

    Jon, exactly. That’s what I was trying to get at. “honor” meaning “respect” and not “money”.

    At least I think that your latest comment is expressing agreement with me. Did I miss something? ;)

    Alan, but of course! I can’t stand that vinegar-based stuff. Give me real bbq sauce! (I learned to love bbq in Texas, so that’s why vinegar-based doesn’t work for me.)

  30. 8-25-2007

    Jon,

    I agree. Paul was not playing word games. He was saying (just like you said) that elders who lead well and labor in teaching deserve respect/honor. How are they worthy? In the same way that workers deserve their wages and an ox deserves to eat the grain. This doesn’t say that elders deserve wages nor does it say that elders deserve grain.

    Steve,

    I’m glad that we are of “one accord” on this! (the bbq, that is)

    -Alan

  31. 8-26-2007

    I am in 99% agreement with you Alan on this but I think you might go overboard to say that a pastor or teacher should never receive pay. I think that would be too far and seems about where this is going.
    But I do agree that the elephant with the gorilla playing the trombone with mouse on top clanging the tiny cymbals is hard to ignore in the modern church. It is the idea of a clergy and laity that has stuck around from catholicism, which needs to be done away with quickly.

    Ed (tenjuices) under Leah’s account

  32. 8-26-2007

    Ed,

    When you said, “but I think you might go overboard to say that a pastor or teacher should never receive pay,” I wasn’t sure if you were using “you” generally or speaking of me specifically. Because, as far as I know, I haven’t said that a pastor or teacher should never receive pay. But I would suggest that, according 1 Tim 5:17 and Gal 6:6, the money should be given by the person that is being taught and led in response to that teaching and leadership. This is a different concept from a wage or salary. We have had people “honor” us or “share all good things with us” in many, many ways, including money. But, these have been individual responses.

  33. 8-26-2007

    Alan,

    I have been greatly interested in this post and the responses to it.

    It has been my experience to be a paid pastor for 9 years and an unpaid one for 12 years prior to retirement.

    Being paid meant being regarded as an employee. One church secretary actually told me that mowing church lawns and tending gardens was my job because I was paid staff. In another church I was challenged by a deacon about something he didn’t agree with,and he reminded me that “You are an employee, employed by the church and the deacons are your boss. You do as you are told.”

    My years as an unpaid pastor were uneventful in regard to the aforementioned unpleasantness, and full of blessing as the congregation functioned as a family.

    During my long life as a Christian I have functioned as a deacon, an elder, teaching elder (pastor). I would need very strong leading from the Lord to ever again consider paid ministry.

    I believe it is Biblical for God’s people to support the ministry of individuals by anonymous giving to the individual so ministring. I do not believe it is Biblical to PAY those who minister.

  34. 8-26-2007

    John,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. It is encouraging to see that your experiences match what I’ve seen in Scripture.

    -Alan

  35. 8-27-2007

    The church I attend does have full-time paid Pastors (it is a Lutheran…in name) church. The Senior Pastor was ordained Lutheran though most of the Associate Pastors have been ordained by non-Lutheran organizations (one was an ordained Baptist Pastor). They have been trying to get us out of “the Pastor does all the stuff” mode for a while now. They have been teaching us that they are the trainers and equippers and we are the ministers. We have been reading things like The Present Future by Reggie McNeal, You Are A Miracle Waiting to Happen by Ken Houts and Red Moon Rising by Peter Grieg. These have made us look outward. They have also pushed us a little further from our comfort zone. We have been more encouraged to walk across the room and meet the new persons in our midst. It has been quite a life changing experience.

  36. 8-27-2007

    Alan,

    I’ve just started reading your blog and really enjoy it. I’ve been thinking about the ongoing discussion concerning vocational ministry and have just a few thoughts/questions. From what I have read from the comments it seems that those who favor non-salaried pastors somehow assume that by deciding not to have a paid pastor(s) the congregation will be better equipped and active in ministry. But does a congregation’s decision either to pay or not to pay their leadership really determine the likelihood of Ephesians 4:11,12 being fulfilled? In other words, is it really fair to assume that if a man drops his salary the church will be better equipped and discipled? It seems to me that while there are many good motivations for having an unpaid pastor(s), simply having unpaid leadership is not a magic wand that well solve many of the problems our churches face. True, our congregations do need to better understand that every member is to be active in using their spiritual gifts, but I fail to see the correlation between a man’s salary and his ability to equip, train, teach, and disciple the congregation. While I agree wholeheartedly that many in our congregations have become spectators and have not been adequately discipled and equipped for ministry, I fail to understand how an unpaid pastor would better fulfill Eph. 4. Could it simply be that our congregations have become full of immature, apathetic, and biblically illiterate spectators simply because they have not been adequately trained and taught by their pastors, regardless of whether or not they pay their pastors? This is just one of many things I have been pondering in regards to the topic of vocational ministry and I’d love your feedback.

    Ben Laird

  37. 8-27-2007

    Inheritor of Heaven,

    It sounds like you have pastors who are leading you in service and mission instead of doing it all themselves. That’s awesome!

    Ben,

    Thank you for your comment! I think you are correct. There is not a direct connection between paid pastors and immature believers. I think several of the commentors here have attempted to make indirect connections, which are probably still valid. However, it is possible to have unpaid pastors yet people remain immature and assume that all ministry is the responsibility of the pastor by virtue of his title or “office”.

    -Alan

  38. 8-27-2007

    Alan,
    This has been a great post, with some really provocative ideas being raised.
    I wonder if some of the problems seen in our churches (with either hired or non-hired pastors) might stem from our culture’s consumer-driven outlook. We demand value for our investment, whether it be in preaching & teaching or music & praise or the physical “plant” or the goods and services provided through church programs, etc.
    Have we come to the place where we view people as just another commodity in the church?
    What do you think?
    Kat

  39. 8-27-2007

    Alan,
    This has been a great post, with some really provocative ideas being raised.
    I wonder if some of the problems seen in our churches (with either hired or non-hired pastors) might stem from our culture’s consumer-driven outlook. We demand value for our investment, whether it be in preaching & teaching or music & praise or the physical “plant” or the goods and services provided through church programs, etc.
    Have we come to the place where we view people as just another commodity in the church?
    What do you think?
    Kat

  40. 8-27-2007

    Alan,
    This has been a great post, with some really provocative ideas being raised.
    I wonder if some of the problems seen in our churches (with either hired or non-hired pastors) might stem from our culture’s consumer-driven outlook. We demand value for our investment, whether it be in preaching & teaching or music & praise or the physical “plant” or the goods and services provided through church programs, etc.
    Have we come to the place where we view people as just another commodity in the church?
    What do you think?
    Kat

  41. 8-27-2007

    Alan,
    This has been a great post, with some really provocative ideas being raised.
    I wonder if some of the problems seen in our churches (with either hired or non-hired pastors) might stem from our culture’s consumer-driven outlook. We demand value for our investment, whether it be in preaching & teaching or music & praise or the physical “plant” or the goods and services provided through church programs, etc.
    Have we come to the place where we view people as just another commodity in the church?
    What do you think?
    Kat

  42. 8-27-2007

    Alan,
    This has been a great post, with some really provocative ideas being raised.
    I wonder if some of the problems seen in our churches (with either hired or non-hired pastors) might stem from our culture’s consumer-driven outlook. We demand value for our investment, whether it be in preaching & teaching or music & praise or the physical “plant” or the goods and services provided through church programs, etc.
    Have we come to the place where we view people as just another commodity in the church?
    What do you think?
    Kat

  43. 8-27-2007

    Alan,
    This has been a great post, with some really provocative ideas being raised.
    I wonder if some of the problems seen in our churches (with either hired or non-hired pastors) might stem from our culture’s consumer-driven outlook. We demand value for our investment, whether it be in preaching & teaching or music & praise or the physical “plant” or the goods and services provided through church programs, etc.
    Have we come to the place where we view people as just another commodity in the church?
    What do you think?
    Kat

  44. 8-27-2007

    Alan,
    This has been a great post, with some really provocative ideas being raised.
    I wonder if some of the problems seen in our churches (with either hired or non-hired pastors) might stem from our culture’s consumer-driven outlook. We demand value for our investment, whether it be in preaching & teaching or music & praise or the physical “plant” or the goods and services provided through church programs, etc.
    Have we come to the place where we view people as just another commodity in the church?
    What do you think?
    Kat

  45. 8-27-2007

    Kat,

    I think that there are many, many things that worked together to create the current entities that we call church. I believe that the consumer mentality is one of those. I agree that this has been a great comment stream, and I appreciate you being one of the people to kick it off.

    -Alan

  46. 11-14-2012

    Do you really think these would be considered advantages by most Christians? Just as Israel wanted a king to lead them like the other nations had, we want to be led by a credentialed leader like they have in business, politics and the military. That also relieves us of responsibility, since leadership/functioning requires training we don’t have.

  47. 11-17-2012

    Art,

    You’re right. There are probably many who would not consider these things to be advantages.

    -Alan

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