A couple of weeks ago, in my post “Do pastors have their cake and eat it too?” I linked to a post by Eric (and “A Pilgrim’s Progress“) called “Cake.” In that post, Eric suggested that the work of being a vocational pastor is easy or “cake.”
I’ve followed various posts that have been written in response to Eric’s post, some agreeing with Eric and some disagreeing. (You can find links to those responses in the comments on my post, in the comments on Eric’s post, and in the comments on some of those other posts.)
Now, if you’ve followed my blog for very long, then you probably know that I do not think that Scripture supports the idea of paying someone a salary in order for that person to hold the position of pastor/elder for a church (i.e., a group of believers). However, that does not mean that I believe that all vocational pastors are evil or that they have chosen their position for personal gain or in order to control others.
That said, I have been surprised by the rhetoric involved on both sides (or all sides, I suppose) of this discussion. It has been interesting to notice how intricately people automatically associate being a vocational pastor with many other things. Some automatically associate being a vocational pastor with very positive things, while others automatically associate being a vocational pastor with very negative things.
It seems that it is almost impossible for people to discuss the concept of salaried pastors/elders without venturing into those other topics. (Again, I’ve noticed this on all sides of the discussion/argument.) Granted, we all have a bias in this discussion – and, since I’ve already stated my bias, you know that I’m including myself when I say, “We all have a bias.”
I’ve noticed that automatically associating the concept of vocational pastors with other aspects of our relationship with Christ and with one another often leads to extreme rhetoric. (Yes, I’m sure that I’ve been guilty of this same thing in the past.)
Is it possible for believers to discuss this concept without the rhetoric? I honestly don’t know. I know that it is a very personal issue for people on all sides of the argument.
Over the next few days, I plan to write a series of posts looking at various aspects of this discussion. I do not plan to present my own case. That’s not the purpose. Instead, I want us to look at the state of the discussion itself.
I want to ask you to help me get this discussion started. This is what I’d like for you to do… answer the following questions:
1) Do you believe that Scripture supports the concept of paying a salary to someone in order for that person to be an elder/pastor (or other kind of leader) for a group of believers (i.e., a church)? (Simple a statement of what you do or do not believe concerning this, please.)
2) Why do you think people who agree with you (NOTE: people who AGREE with you) sometimes immediately jump to other issues that are not related to salaries and pastors/elders? (Do not turn this into a defense of your position.)
For this post, I’m asking you to stick to the questions above. There will be other opportunities to discuss other aspects of this question in the later posts. (I will be strict with the comments on this post.)