the weblog of Alan Knox

Should pastors/elders be paid a salary?

Posted by on Mar 3, 2010 in blog links, elders | 38 comments

Dave Black linked to a good article called “Should Pastors Be Salaried?” The author of the article (Darryl Merkel) covers all of the related passages of Scripture, even some that are not normally considered. He concludes that Scripture does not support paying a salary to a pastor/elder.

Since I agree with his position, I won’t say that I think he interprets the Scriptures well. ;)

However, I do think he does a good job pointing out that the “honor,” “respect,” “sharing,” etc. that we see in Scripture is not synonymous with “paying  a salary.”

Also, this is a very important point that is often overlooked in these discussions:

If our churches truly implemented New Testament patterns of ministry, one wonders whether there would be any real need to support one, full-time pastor? If the local church had a functioning priesthood (as opposed to the passive, spectator event that is the mark of most churches) and an equally shared eldership, there simply would not be the urgency or necessity to hire someone on a full-time basis. This is because (1) leadership responsibilities would be shared; (2) one man and his gifts would not become the focal-point of the meeting; (3) corporate teaching would be shared and not left to one sole pastor; and (4) each member would actively participate and contribute to the meeting.

By the way, the paragraph above is absolutely true. I’ve seen it in practice.

What do you think about the article?


38 Comments

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

  1. 3-3-2010

    I just read it, great stuff.

  2. 3-3-2010

    Ah, now I see the source of this quote that’s floating around. ;)

    As I commented here (though it’s still awaiting moderation), I think his points number 2 and 4 don’t contribute much to his argument, 2 being a false assumption and over-generalization and 4 being similar to 2 and also possibly meaning more work for the elders in discipling/training. I’ll give Merkel points 1 and 3 though, even though they’re essentially the same.

    What do you guys think? (And please keep in mind that my reasoning is more fleshed out in the other comment.)

  3. 3-3-2010

    Alan,

    I came across Darryl’s article soon after it was published and agree with what he writes. At the time we were embarking on ministry in the same manner as he describes.

  4. 3-3-2010

    I think the points in the article are well made, and to me it underlined once again that the only way in which people can try and defend the paying of a salary to pastors/elders is if they make sure to carefully aim certain verses at “leaders”, but yet other verses at the so-called “laity”… Real effort must be put into artificially dissecting the epistles in order for pastors to deftly step around the call to “work with your hands”…

    But to me the most important point that was emphasized was this, “Even if, for the sake of argument, Paul refers to some form of monetary assistance, he probably intended elders to be periodically compensated for their work and not necessarily a permanent, full-time wage.”, because in conversations with people on this topic, it always seems to come down to a matter of adequately explaining that specific point…

    It is the difference between “assistance” and a salary that is the game-changer… It is when you start paying someone a salary that you are effectively creating a job or position, (which of course must come with a job description), and there must be some form of “infrastructure” that must exist for that to work. It seems to me that going from “support” to salary is where the seed of the institution is planted. That is the where the shift from organism to organization happens…

    And it is so interesting, that as I have engaged with many people in salaried positions, that they have unfailingly resisted being categorized as simply having a “job”, but instead insist that they live on “support”. The line is continuously and intentionally blurred by borrowing terms, and at this point it makes me wonder why… Why do so many pastors that I speak to seem to be so averse to the idea that in reality they are simply getting paid to perform a task? Do seminaries strive to dispell this as myth? (How are pastor’s salaries typically determined anyhow? Are they sometimes oriented so that they proportionally grow with the incoming donations? Are they usually a flat amount? Does it depend on the denomination?) Anyways… The more I have these conversations, the more it seems that the blurring of this distinction (between support/salary) is crucial to the effectiveness of using the usual proof-texts to try and defend salaried pastors. They seem to go hand in hand. Does anyone else encounter this kind of reluctance from pastors to discuss the distinction between support and salary? Anyone have any thoughts?

  5. 3-3-2010

    Arthur,

    I see you posted a link to it also. Dave always has good things to read.

    Adam,

    I’d love to hear more about why you think 2 & 4 don’t add much to his argument.

    Aussie John,

    (hmm… that’s three ‘A’ names in a row…)

    I wish I could sit down with you and learn from your experiences.

    Daniel,

    (I almost changed your name to Adaniel so that your name would start with an ‘A’ also.)

    Yes, I think you’re right about the blurring between “support” and “salary”.

    -Alan

  6. 3-3-2010

    Alan, I’d love to discuss it with you. We should do lunch soon!

    The short of it is that I don’t think 2 or 4 necessarily make less work for a pastor. And I don’t think 2 is valid at all. Having a pastor/preacher does not equate to having a service focused on one man. But again, where the service/gathering is focused is sort of tangential to the amount of work or time an elder must spend shepherding his flock.

  7. 3-3-2010

    I think that what we should do, and what we are willing to do in today’s church are 2 very different things. The NT church may not have paid full-time church leaders, but I suspect they also did not pay full-time school teachers, or various other positions that have currently replaced what were volunteer or familial positions. I suspect that the NT Church was a much closer and co-dependent community than we maintain today. I bet that the congregation made sure that the leaders they chose to spend vast amounts of time caring for the flock were fed, clothed, and had a place to sleep. Furthermore, I’m confident that education and care for the less fortunate were responsibilities shared by the community, not funded by the government.
    OK, I’ve rambled a bit, but suffice it to say, I think the modern church has chosen to pursue a different lifestyle, and pay certain people to do the things we’d rather not bother with. I’d be very interested in seeing an attempt to rebuild a modern variant on a NT congregation/community.

  8. 3-3-2010

    Jason… I’d totally agree, so much of it boils down to willingness… Today, most people have so accepted the kind of “civil servant” approach to anything the church does, that they view living as they did in the NT as not very realistic… But even so, it’s still happening all over the place…

  9. 3-3-2010

    Adam,

    I agree that neither item 2 nor item 4 necessarily means less work for pastors/elders. I think, though, that for many churches, item 2 is the norm while item 4 would be abnormal. But, you’re right that these items do not necessarily reflect on the amount of work expected of pastors/elders.

    Jason,

    Yes. In fact, I think that a decision not to pay a salary to pastors/elders would have to parallel a decision for the church to care for one another as you described. And, you’re right, this is not normal today.

    Daniel,

    What you call “civil servant approach”, I’ve called “representative obedience.” :)

    And, I agree… it is happening all over the place, but I still think it’s far from the norm.

    -Alan

  10. 3-3-2010

    Exodus 23:8

    Wouldn’t “support” be more like a gift than salary (worthy of his reward)?

    If then they are paid a salary (so they aren’t taking “gifts”) and double honor = full-time salary, shouldn’t we “honor” widows indeed with part-time pay? ;)

  11. 3-4-2010

    Alan, when church really happens nobody needs to get paid because everyone is participating as a follower.

    The issue with payment for me is essentially the assumption that the professional is also being paid to think for people. It’s not intentional but it does happen.

  12. 3-4-2010

    Came across this quote today, thought it applied to this discussion. (even though I realize this isn’t scripture or anything, I think it makes a very true point)…

    “Teachability is often confused with subservience. A person is wrongly thought to be teachable if he is passive and pliable. On the contrary, teachability is an extremely active virtue. No one is really teachable who does not freely exercise his power of independent judgment. He can be trained, perhaps, but not taught. The most teachable reader is, therefore, the most critical. He is the reader who finally responds to a book by the greatest effort to make up his own mind on the matters the author has discussed.”
    ~ Mortimer Adler, How To Read a Book, p. 140

  13. 3-4-2010

    Alan,

    As much a sit would be great to sit and have fellowship together, I doubt I would have much positive input regarding our experiences and the outcomes.

    We were very much in kindergarten, regarded by some as quite aberrant, as well as seeking to work with folk who wanted to join with us but very careful of letting go their traditional habits.

    As well we were not wise in understanding that some folk, although claiming to be otherwise, were working against us, especially with new converts, and when found out went on to do so in at least three other small congregations, actually destroying two.

    The congregation slowly grew smaller through folk moving away from our region, mainly for reasons work, marriage, and family.

    Traditional folk found it very difficult to openly discuss their personal spiritual lives and concerns, and when my health forced retirement they found it easier to return to the old ways.

    I don’t want you to see my encouragement and agreement with yourself as an indication that I have a great story to tell.

    I was convinced a long time ago that the direction you and others are taking is Biblical, and was delighted to come across the writings of yourself and others. I believe it is the only way of the future for those who are serious about their position in Christ, as children in God’s family..

  14. 3-5-2010

    I don’t really see a prohibition to either the payment of salary to elders, nor do I see that one’s profession cannot overlap with their role in the church (or that the church provides a paid service as an overlap to their biblically-ordained ministry). An outright prohibition would merit such heavy debate on the matter, but I just don’t see it. As much as I think that we should model ourselves as a church as much as possible toward the early church, I don’t think we should become divisive over such debatables – there are many, many more things that are higher on the pecking order than this one. For example, marshaling the church at large to do the things that they have outright been commanded to do.

    I just came out of a situation where dogma was all too often created out of debatable doctrine, and I highly admonish all brethren to avoid such a trap. It is legalism incarnate.

  15. 3-5-2010

    Jeremiah,

    It is funny that you say that. Here are some other things to consider.

    1. There is no prohibition nor is there an example of sermons in the church; however, every church I have been in has a pulpit and a stage and people preach from them. Would you be upset if you walked in a church and there was no preaching ever?

    2. There is no prohibition against not meeting once a month. Would you say it was okay for a church to meet once a month since there is nothing in scripture that prohibits such a perspective?

    3. Shouldn’t we pay every member who serves in the church since we are going to pay a couple? That would be fair right? We can see how many hours it took them to prepare find a comparable salary and make some type of run rate so that we can pay the Sunday school teacher, small group leaders, people who sing in the choir, the deacons, the child care providers and the people who run the sound system/recording. Wouldn’t that only be fair?

    4. Finally define debatle, what would you believe would be nondebateable doctrine, can you be as concise as possible. Because I am sure no one here wants to be divisive or fall into the “trap of legalism”.

  16. 3-5-2010

    Hey Lionel,

    I’m obviously not Jeremiah, but I do agree with what he’s written here. Here’s how I’d answer your important questions.

    1. Yes, because (good, biblical, and especially in my case expository) preaching personally stirs my heart and helps me to understand and follow God and his Word better.

    2. I’d say Heb 10:24-25 at least strongly suggests we ought to meet together more than once a month. Acts 20:7 makes it seem like it sure ought to be at least once a week. I think Scripture on the whole does prohibit meeting only once a month.

    3. No, that does not follow. And see 1 Cor 9. Paul says he has every right to take pay and every right not to if he thinks it best for the gospel. Especially see 1 Cor 9:14, “In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” Keep in mind he is writing this about his ministry to a church. I don’t think he’s only saying evangelists/those who preach to people outside the church have a right to take a salary. What you propose might be “fair,” but that more than paying one or two teachers would, I think, breed greed within a church. No servant of God’s church ought to serve out of a desire for money, but it does not follow that pay for such teachers is unbiblical. Matt 10:10; Gal 6:6; and 1 Tim 5:17 (where “honor” in the context of the whole chapter seems to refer to an honorarium, i.e. money). Jeremiah is right that Scripture doesn’t prohibit pay for teachers. It establishes their right to it as well as to decline it.

    4. Debatable: Any point on which Scripture allows for debate, one way or the other. For example, whether an elder takes pay or whether a church buy a building or whether a Jewish Christian can eat pork, etc. Non-debatable: Any point on which Scripture does not allow for debate. E.g., there is one triune God and the only way to be reconciled to him is through the Father’s Son Christ Jesus. And, I’ll add a definition for divisive: making a debatable point of doctrine a test for orthodoxy or grounds for pride.

    I know you asked Jeremiah, but since I agreed with what he wrote, I thought I’d chime in. I’ll stand by what I said in our discussion a few (tens of) posts ago: the way we do church is not equivalent to whether we are true Christians.

    I’d love to hear your and anyone else’s thoughts in response. And I’m looking forward to seeing how Jeremiah answers. – Your brother Adam

  17. 3-5-2010

    Adam,

    1. Is your personal opinion which makes it debateable. There are many others who disagree with your point especially in relation to what has been labeled the Sermon. See David Norrington’s work “To Preach or Not to Preach” and Viola’s “Pagan Christianity” to name a few.

    2. Is your personal opinion which make it debateble. The bible doesn’t give any hard or fast rules about how often a group of believers should meet together, so based off of the logic of there is no “prohobition” or biblical text to actually support such a rule I can make it up as I go and be perfectly fine (though I think Acts 20 seems to be very clear about Elders working with their own hands which seems to suggest some type of imperative, if they followed the commands of Paul)

    3. I never said they should desire money, but if you compensate one memeber (and Alan has written extensively on the difference between traveling ministers of the Gospel and elders) why not compensate them all? I don’t follow your greed statement at all.

    4. Why discuss anything besides the obvious? Why debate the extent of the trinity, why debate modes of baptism, why debate innerancy or textual criticism? Finally I don’t think ANYONE here has been divisive by the definition you have provided. To say I disagree with something and to defend it from scripture doesn’t seem to be divisive, it just says I disagree and if somone doesn’t like the point of contention they shouldn’t respond because then they will be the ones being divisive. No one is refusing fellowship with anyone, I think everyone who agrees with the no salary position are saying here is why we think it is important and here is what we the scripture says about it, but to throw the “divisve” tag out seems to be more of a low blow. If you don’t want to engage the conversation that is fine, but to label somone divisive means they are sinning against other Christians and God Himself which is a big statement to make.

  18. 3-5-2010

    Lionel,

    I didn’t say anything here has been divisive, and I don’t think this post or this discussion is. Just offering a definition (and admittedly not a great one) for a term that you, my friend, put on the table. :) Didn’t mean to make a low blow and wasn’t calling names.

    You can disagree with my experience on point #1, that’s fine. #2 I think is more a matter of exegesis than opinion, but I can’t convince you of mine here. I don’t even know you except through your blog and these comments!

    As for point 3, again, I didn’t say you did say that and wasn’t accusing you of anything. That said, I don’t follow your logic of “pay one and you might as well pay them all.” That doesn’t appear to be what Scripture teaches, and it doesn’t seem practical, either. Maybe you could link me to a post you’ve written on this point so I can better understand?

    I apologize for having offended you brother! It was not my intent. Perhaps we can resolve this over a more personal medium. Feel free to email me at adamdarnell1 at gmail dot com.

  19. 3-5-2010

    Adam,

    I wasn’t offended, dang gone internet loses tone :o . I still believe that exegetically you would have a hard time proving more than once a month would be “unbiblical” but I still believe that at least the Ephesian elders didn’t receive pay just like I believe Philemon let Onesimus go, the Ephesian elders could have disobeyed Paul’s admonition and soon as they got back demanded a salary so that they could do the work of ministry, but I believe, based off of their response of weeping on him in Acts 20 that they did not receive salaries and I believe this is exactly what Paul wanted all elders to do. Just like I believe Philemon under the weight of the Gospel and from his relationship with Paul did exactly what Paul asked him to do in reference to Onesimus, I could be wrong on both but if you agree with my Philemon piece it would be only logical that you agree with my Acts 20 position, just like I agree with your more than once a month position I think exegetically we can build a case for elders working with their own hands so that they could be a blessing to others.

    But no offense at all brother, I am sorry if I gave that impression, I enjoy such conversations. My low blow statement was more in reference to Jeremiah who said to debate an issue is divisive, I would have to disagree as being divisive is a serious issue in the church.

  20. 3-5-2010

    Lionel,

    Thanks for clearing it up for me! I certainly agree that “we can build a case for elders working with their own hands so that they could be a blessing to others.” I also think we can build a biblical case for elders blessing others while working with their own hands and taking pay or an honorarium from the church.

    Debate vs. decisiveness is indeed a fine line!

  21. 3-5-2010

    Adam,

    I was once told a story by a friend about Orthodox Jews arguing, man he said it looked like they were going to get into some hand to hand type stuff, spit was flying they were yelling hands going everywhere and he said about 5 minutes later they embraced and went and got something to eat. Divisiveness means I value myself more than others, rather that is my: opinion, rights or goods. We should be able to debate vigurously and put our arms around one another and get some food because after it is all said and done we are one in Christ and that trumps EVERYTHING else, our ecclesiology, soteriology, pneumatology and any other ology that is out there. Christ died so that we may be one in Him and that is the most important thing. That doesn’t mean that we should hold our convictions and make people pry them out of our hands, but it does mean that no matter what we are to receive one another in love and too often that is not the case brother.

  22. 3-5-2010

    I appreciate the discussion here. I’ll only add a few things.

    I think that Paul’s instructions to the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20:33-35 are very important to this discussion. Paul commands (a very strong command) the elders to work hard with their hands like he did so that they would be givers more than receivers. I think it can be shown through several passages that Paul sees “work with your hands” as different from “ministry work”… and he calls all believers to do both, even elders.

    Even beyond this command, Paul gives the Corinthians his reason for not accepting support from the believers in the cities where he worked. (He accepted help from those cities after he left, but not while he was there.) Specifically, he says that he sees this as a hindrance to the gospel. We need to recognize that this same hindrance still applies today, and we should take Paul’s reason seriously.

    Finally, I would never say that it is a sin for a church to pay someone to be their pastor. However, I do believe that it can be a sin in some instances, and I also believe that it can be unhealthy for the church in many situations.

    -Alan

  23. 3-7-2010

    A couple of comments here related to the tangential points that have been made:

    1. If paying Sunday School teachers would lead to “greed”, then we must address paying elders with the same caution. Interesting how the assumption seems to be that pastors are pure of heart, but everyone else is sinful and susceptible to greed. Why do pastors ever leave their church for bigger churches? If greed doesn’t play into that, I’m not sure what does.

    2. If Acts 20:7 is to be used to say that meetings should likely be weekly (a very bad application of that passage, by the way, if you read it in context), why do we not use Acts 2:46 by the same standard and say that our meetings should at least be daily? Using Acts 20:7 as a proof-text for weekly meetings is not exegesis at all. It is proof-texting out of context.

    3. Whenever this discussion about paying pastors/elders comes up, the discussion always revolves around paying pastors only. I have yet to find a church that has both a pastor and elders and pays them all. It’s always the one man (or staff of men) that gets paid and the rest of the elders are expected to serve as volunteers. One would be hard-pressed to find a distinction between pastor and elder in the New Testament, and so anyone who defends paying the one must, in order to be consistent, defend paying anyone appointed as an elder in a church. I have never found a church that does that, nor have I found a pastor preaching about money who encourages his church to pay all of the elders on the board.

    4. The notion that certain things in scripture are debatable and others are clear-cut is always way more subjective than anyone wants to admit. The things I think are clear-cut are debated by others. The things I think are debatable are actually thought to be clear-cut by others. And many times, the things “orthodoxy” holds to be clear-cut in scripture are not clear-cut because scripture teaches such, but because later church councils and their resulting creeds have stated them to be such. A little historical perspective can be very helpful in keeping those two things distinct.

  24. 3-8-2010

    As always Steve, your comments always make me think

  25. 3-9-2010

    I was pleasantly surprised to find our bro Jon Zens commenting today in another discussion about this same topic, and I’ll unashamedly link to his words here… (http://prayeramedic.com/2010/02/those-who-preach-the-gospel-should-receive-their-living-from-the-gospel/comment-page-1/#comment-1253)

    I think my favorite part is where he says, “viewing the ekklesia as spiritual ‘family’ seems to be a springboard perspective for everything — elders (Greek, ‘presbuteroi’) are simply older, mature men of wisdom in the family of Christ who are viewed as ‘fathers,’ and there are also older women (Greek, ‘presbidas’) who are viewed as ‘mothers’; *you don’t have ‘offices’ that are filled in a family, instead you have loving functions worked out among the members…

    If the Body of Christ is really, truly regarded as a family, (not just in some trite metaphorical sense, but literally…) then much of the ambiguity is taken out of this whole conversation from the get-go….

  26. 3-10-2010

    Daniel,

    Thanks for the link. I hope to be able to read it soon. By the way, I agree 100% that the way we view ourselves as a family is extremely important to this discussion.

    -Alan

  27. 7-5-2010

    Hello,
    Perhaps I am a bit late but I would like to offer my two cents to the debate. I myself have written a couple of articles on my blog concerning the position of pastors in todays churches. If we look at Eph 4:11-12 we see that there are several different “offices” of elders but in todays churches it is as if only the pastor fulfills all these different roles of prophet, apostle, evangelist and teachers. But this is clearly not scripture intended. However confidence is invested in the pastor especially if he has attended seminary and so is regarded as a professional in his field. But where are the seminaries for these other offices? Could this be why these offices are either ignored or summed up into the pastor’s role? There is nothing in the NT scriptures which suggests that a pastor should be salaried – but within reason his needs just as the needs of everyone else in the church should be met by the church. We have gone away from scripture in how the church should function hence why we have now come to this debate of whether a pastor should be salaried. Pastoring is essentially a gift of God (Eph 4:11) and what is freely received should be freely given (Matt 10:8). The emphasis should be on need.

  28. 7-6-2010

    Henry,

    Thanks for the comment. I agree with much of what you said, especially about the necessity of all gifted individuals working among the church. I wonder, though, why do you think Eph 4:11-12 describes elders?

    -Alan

  29. 7-6-2010

    Allan,
    I guess it was me reading into the text. By elder I don’t necessarily mean age but someone who is somewhat mature spiritually. I was thinking that perhaps an immature Christian would not necessarily be operating in these gifts without having been guided by other elders. For example, the disciples spent some time with Jesus learning from Him before being sent out as apostles. Similarly Timothy who was a young man spent some time as a sort of an apprentice with Paul, and travelled with him rather than to dive straight into ministry on his own. I think although there is no need for a pastor to attend formal seminary I think “descipling” is nevertheless important.

  30. 7-6-2010

    Henry,

    Yes! We need more mature (spiritually mature) believers to help us understand how God can use our gifts.

    -Alan

  31. 2-27-2012

    Great post and linked articles. Thanks so much!

    Here’s a brief video on “Simple Church” I posted to YouTube yesterday which advocates the same.

  32. 2-27-2012

    A related thought to Erkel’s article reasoned from a slightly different angle:

    The prerequisites for being an elder include blamelessness (or faithfulness) as a husband, father, provider, leader, manager and instructor of one’s household, as well as having a good reputation in the community and church.

    Which of these “must be” qualifications should be removed or retired once a man is appointed as an elder? Should he quit being a faithful husband? Or an effective father? Of course not. Then why should he cease being a reliable provider for his family and make himself and his family dependents who burden the church and drain its resources?

  33. 9-12-2012

    I do not know where to start. I will agree the American Model of church has many flaws. Also the house church movement has many flaws. What concerns me is this. So many abandon the church which is in a ditch and run opposite not realizing they are so different from church but they are still in the ditch, just the other side. These types of tweet is dangerous because it attracts rebels like house churches attract renegades and churches attract religious spirits. Only 2.7% of Christians tithe. If you post tithing is not a NT principle watch how many are drawn. First, let me ask do you tithe? If not, you should be silent. Second, granted you have a phd, you are a student. Who do you submit your new theology to for authenticity of truth? Third, you absolutely do not know Scripture.
    We have had traditional church & house churches. I love both & there are issues in both. If you are going to make salary an issue then why not make signs, wonders, and miracles an issue. Are signs, wonders, miracles following your organic group? I really believe this is a deeper issue in your heart than you realize. It’s not a spiritual issue but a heart issue.

  34. 9-12-2012

    PT,

    I’ve written several posts examining various passages of Scripture related to this topic. If you’d like to discuss those passages, let me know, and I’ll be glad to add some links to the posts here.

    -Alan

  35. 9-15-2012

    Alan,

    I have to file both this post and the article it references under “Here We Go Again”. It is a poorly written article filled with questionable interpretations of passages, personal opinions and the occasional “authoritative quote” to confirm the author’s opinion. No, I won’t offer specific examples (although the author’s lashing out at pastors today living lavish lifestyles and “religious hucksters” in point 2.B. illustrates the author’s underlying gestalt), because the article needs to be refuted as a “whole cloth”, and that would require an article of equal or greater length.

    Having labored in the organic house church movement for some 12 years now, I am well familiar with an attitude among many practitioners which essentially says “no one should be paid for doing anything”. Much of this attitude is based not upon Scripture (except when poorly argued), but represents an over-reaction against the excesses we have all witnessed among institutional churches. I understand. In a related writing project on this topic I recently made the following observation:

    A 2010 survey by the Leadership Network of salaries paid to megachurch pastors found that the average salary of a megachurch senior pastor was $147,000. According to the survey, “Salaries – or total cash compensation – for senior pastors ranged from over $80,000 to more than $260,000, though most of the salaries for megachurch pastors were in the $100,000 to $200,000 range”. Compare this with median family income for a typical American family of $49,445 for the same year. In the 1st Century AD the daily wage for a worker was a “denarius” which in today’s currency would be approximately $4.14. This would equate to an annual wage of roughly $1,461 (Based upon a “Jewish common year” of 353 days). How far we have come from those humble beginnings of an itinerant Jewish Rabbi and his twelve disciples along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

    But to bend Scripture into an argument that everyone should work and no one should get paid for ministry (which is the underlying agenda at work here) is to use such abuses as an unbiblical exegetical tool that paints a distorted picture of Scripture and will do the organic church great harm in the future. Did the Apostle Paul engage in “tent making” when churches were too spiritually immature or too financially poor to support him financially? Yes. But consider the following passage, written to the believers in Corinth:

    “I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.” (2 Corinthians 11:8-9)

    Here Paul, the great “tent-maker” in Corinth (Acts 18:1-3) gives the Corinthian believers a “gentle tongue lashing” by telling them that he robbed other churches – specifically the Macedonians – by accepting (financial) support from them in order to minister in Corinth! Imagine how that must have made the Corinthian believers feel, especially when Paul had told them earlier that the Macedonians were living in “extreme poverty” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2)! How’s that for a “not-so-subtle” hint that the Corinthians really needed to get their own act together and step up to their responsibilities to support Paul’s ministry. Simply put, Paul only “made tents” when he had no other choice.

    OK, that’s enough for now. But to posit a principle that no one (yes, including elders who rule well) should be financially compensated or supported for doing so is to impose an outside agenda on the biblical text that misrepresents the full teaching of Scripture.

  36. 9-15-2012

    Maurice,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Actually, your statement “no one should be paid for doing anything” could perhaps describe my view. It depends on what you mean by that. While I did not analyze any Scripture in this post, I have written several other posts in which I examine various passages that are related to this topic. If you’re interested in discussing those passages, I’ll be glad to provide some links.

    -Alan

  37. 11-4-2012

    I think that the tithings received from the members of the church should be spent on maintaining the church with regards to the utilities etc. I think that no salary should be paid to anyone including someone to clean the church or mow the lawn. Members of the church should be willing to assist with the daily maintenance of the church. The monies collected should be to take care of the utilities, purchase educational material for all the members. Setting up a special offering for a food bank where monies would be used to purchase needed food for a members family or someone in their community in need. Share in the responsibilities of the church, no sermon is really required, have members get up and give talks about salvation, repentence, forgivness etc.

  38. 11-5-2012

    LaCoyia,

    Yes, sometimes there will be corporate expenses, and the church as a whole should take care of those together. We also encourage people to use their finances to help anyone in need who God brings into their life. We don’t treat the church as a clearinghouse to funnel everyone’s money to different ministries. It’s usually a new but freeing proposition for people.

    -Alan