My friend Jason at “Second and Content” is currently in South Africa for a year working in tribal villages. He wrote a very good post called “Some Thoughts on Elders” in response to an older post that I linked to on twitter and Facebook.
His post is long, but well worth reading. He discusses elders from both a scriptural perspective and from his experience in both traditional and less-traditional church structures.
In this post, I want to highlight one thing that Jason talks about. The way the elders serve can affect how (or if) others in the church also serve.
Here is part of what Jason writes:
I’ve always been a firm believer that every Christian is responsible for doing ministry. Sometimes I feel like there is such a distinction between clergy and laymen today that ministry has been localized only in the hands of pastors. Or if the body does do some sort of ministry, its once a year, on one gigantic day of lets-help-people-and-wear-t-shirts! Often times the response I’ve gotten from people when asked whether we should pay ministers or not was that the church paid pastors so they could do ministry more effectively. Yes, this motive has great intentions, but unfortunately it creates a mindset that further widens the gap between the two fictional distinctions of clergy and laymen. The biggest influence on my life in regard to ministry was a particular Dr. who showed me that it was possible to do ministry and carry on a job at the same time. His particular gift was teaching, and he utilized that. When an elder (and when I say elder, read your conventional definition for pastor, one who teaches and guides the flock) displays the example that it is possible to do ministry and work a full time job (i.e. work just like you do) it shows people that they can be doing ministry as well.
What do you think? Does Jason have a point? Can elders serving and working a job be more of an encouragement and example to others than elders who serve and are paid by the church?
(And, yes, I’m sure my readers will have differing opinions on this. I would love to hear your opinion, otherwise I would not have asked.)