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The Vocational Pastor: keeping on topic

Posted by on Jun 5, 2012 in elders | 16 comments

The Vocational Pastor: keeping on topic

In my previous post “The Vocational Pastor: an interesting discussion,” I said that whenever I’m part of a discussion about the relationship or connection between salaries and pastors/elders in Scripture (or when I just read other discussions), it seems that the discussion rarely (if ever) stays on that topic. Instead, the conversation seems to automatically drift into other topics and almost always ends in extreme rhetoric.

In fact, in that previous post, I asked my readers to comment only by answering these two 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.)

Now, like I said in that post, I know that we all come into this discussion with certain biases and presuppositions. That’s true of almost any position. For example, my own position is that it is not possible to support the practice of paying someone a salary in order for that person to be an elder/pastor. I know that my belief in that area affects the way that I interact with other people concerning this topic.

However, because of various aspects of this issue, this particular topic is extremely personal and causes emotional responses on both (all) sides of the issue.

Those who agree with me that Scripture does not support paying someone a salary to be an elder/pastor often assume that a person who is paid to be an elder/pastor is controlling or abusive or that the person is greedy.

Those who disagree with me and instead believe that Scripture does support paying someone a salary to be an elder/pastor often assume those who disagree want to do away with any kind of leadership or do not care whether or not people are shepherded/discipled.

Are the assumptions above true in some cases? Yes. But, none of the assumptions (or the actions/beliefs involved) are actually related to the topic of the connection between salaries and pastors/elders in Scripture.

Then, of course, the rhetoric gets even stronger. In fact, I’ve heard people on both (all) sides of this discussion suggest that those who disagree are out to destroy the body of Christ.

People on all sides of this issues are followers of Jesus Christ, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, growing in maturity in Jesus Christ, and helping others grow in Christ. Obviously, people on all sides of this discussion think that their position is God’s desire for his people and supported by Scripture, and, in the same way, people on all sides of this issue think that those who disagree are somehow harming God’s people.

But, we must learn to stay on topic, friends. And, we must remember that the brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with you are NOT your enemy, that God loves them just as much as he loves you, and that God is using them to further his kingdom.

So, how do we help one another keep this discussion on topic? (I will be a little more lax with these comments than I was with the comments on the previous post.)


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

  1. 6-5-2012

    This is a very interesting exercise. I will think more on this.

  2. 6-5-2012


    I think one of the reasons these discussions don’t stay on topic is because we don’t stand up and call emotional appeals what they sometimes are; sin. Many assumptions are founded in sin because we are not thinking the best about the motivations of our brothers and not esteeming them more highly than ourselves. When this takes place sin has happened or is crouching at the door. We need to hold each other accountable and call each other to repent, seek forgiveness, and be reconciled to each other when they/we venture off into the tall grass (sin).

    As that sage from the 60’s said repeatedly, “Andj (Andy) you got to nip it in the bud. Nip it. Nip it. Nip it.” (Barney Fife from the Andy Griffith SHow!).


  3. 6-5-2012

    Brother…as a guy who went to college for ministry it has always seemed an odd concept to me even as a paid staff person the things that come with pastoring being a “job” as in paycheck job. There become certain expectations, limitations (both to get things done and what not to do…because you are paid the ppl “get to” decide what you should and shouldn’t do), high burdens at times (the idea that the pastor should do a bulk of the work), and the possibility of losing that job because of not meeting ppl’s expectations despite doing what the Gospel says.

    I didn’t answer your questions…but, it’s a thought I want to explore more. Thanks for posting this. As always you post in love and just desire pure conversation to explore things. I appreciate that.


  4. 6-5-2012

    Alan said
    that God loves them just as much as he loves you, and that God is using them to further his kingdom.

    Yes Absolutely, so we the believers in Christ are led and sometimes led by our own deceptions, thus we learn for their is no condemnation for those that seek after Christ the spirit there of that we receive through belief. And ALL things work toward the good of our heavenly Father for the eclesia. But unfortunately not all have or necessarily will change their mind from unbelief to belief as the Jewish and religous leaders of Jesus’s day did not do, For the division is flesh or Spirit Genesis 6:5 and John 4:24 God can only be worshipped in Spirit. God loves us yet our own way gets in the way and continuously devises evil in God’s sight. It went on then and still today goes on, taking advantage of grace which I have myself been guilty of of woe is me. without receiving life this is all but head knowledge

  5. 6-5-2012

    Oh and I did not stay on the subject at hand. Because all I knoiw is life or death, either one has it or they do not. So I always lead and connect all things to this. either you believe or you don’t which is the most important of all

  6. 6-5-2012

    Hi again Alan

    Wow!!! I’ve been officialy moderated. I guess I should appologise.

    Since you say…
    “I will be a little more lax with these comments” I hope I can post this here?

    1 – No…
    In the Bible – I can find NO “mere fallible human” as a….
    Paid – Professional – Pastor – in a Pulpit – Preaching – to People – in Pews. ;-)
    I can find NO “mere fallible human” called pastor – or – shepherd.

    I can find warnings about those who are…
    Hirelings – and NOT the shepherd… John 10:12 KJV.
    Elders – Feed the flock of God… NOT for filthy lucre… 1 Pet 5:2 KJV, Tit 1:11 KJV
    False prophets… False teachers… Who… Through covetousness
    shall they with feigned words make *merchandise of you:* John 10:12 KJV.

    2 – Not sure what you mean -“immediately jump to other issues that are not
    related to salaries and pastors/elders?”- for those who agree with me.

    Can only speak for myself. (And even I’m subject to change.) ;-)

    IMO – Salaries are a non-issue – NOT even a reasonable topic for discussion…
    Because Pastors, as we see them today, and most of what they “do” today…
    does NOT exist in the Bible.

    I mean, when you realize in the Bible there are NO professional pastors…
    NO one called pastor… NO one hired, or fired, as a pastor…
    NOT one congregation “Led” by a pastor…

    Salaries become a moot point.

    So, maybe these folks “jump to other issues” so they can talk about Jesus. ;-)

    The “ONE” Shepherd and Bishop of our soul. :-)

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – One Leader

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  7. 6-5-2012


    Much agreement when you write…
    “the brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with you are NOT your enemy,
    that God loves them just as much as he loves you”

    There was a time I desired the “Position” of – Pastor/Reverend/Leader.
    I was ordained… I was in leadership… I was deceived…

    Bread of deceit is sweet to a man;
    but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.
    Pro 20:17 KJV

    When searching the Bible for what a pastor does – I had a rude awakining…
    NOT much of what my Elder/Overseers taught – was in the Bible. :-(

    I also realized I didn’t meet the qualifications for Elder/Overseer. Oy Vey!!!
    And my Elder/Oversers didn’t meet the qualifications either. :-(

    It took a few years – but – I finally cut up all my papers. Aaahhh – Liberty.

    Should someone ask for a salary – when they do NOT qualify as an Elder?

    So, in my experience, those who desire to be a Paid Professional Pastor…
    Are NOT my enemy…

    IMO – They are in bondage to the “Traditions of Men” just like I was…
    The teachings of men who thought more highly of themselves and desired the –
    Power – Profit – Prestige – Honor – Glory – Recognition – Reputation, that comes
    with the “Title/Position” of todays – “Pastor/Reverend/Leader.”

    Those “Traditions” that make void “the Word of God.” Mark 7:13.

    And I have no idea how – “we help one another keep this discussion on topic?”

    Jer 50:6 KJV
    *My people* hath been *lost sheep:*
    “their shepherds” have caused them to “go astray”

    1 Pet 2:25 KJV
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

  8. 6-5-2012


    Thanks. I hope that thinking on this subject will be beneficial.


    I agree. On the other hand, we must also be careful not to respond in a sinful way ourselves.


    This has always been a difficult topic to explore, for various reasons.


    Remembering there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (even those who disagree with us on this topic) is a great way to begin a discussion on this topic. Thanks.

    A Amos Love,

    Yes, like I said in the previous post, I was very strict on the comments there. If you come up with ideas to keep this conversation on topic, I’d love to hear them.


  9. 6-5-2012

    I know this is tough, and coming from someone who writes from a very emotionally expressive perspective it may seem a bit hypocritical, but the best way to discuss these issues honestly is to discuss them strictly as concepts, removed from our experiences. Of course this is impossible, but you’ve got to be able to divorce your emotions from your perspective sometimes to discuss it logically. Emotions sometimes dilute our own views and the reasons we have for holding them, they can blind us from being able to hear contrary views and reasons for those views, and they can even confuse us as to what our own reasons are for believing something. This is ultra practical, but sometimes it can be helpful to use new words or even symbols to represent parts of the discussion. This sometimes helps me. Instead of “pastors” we could say “dudes” or “x’s” Super lame, I know, but sometimes this helps me work through stuff in my head, and it can help remove the emotional charge from my brain when discussing issues that are particularly close to my personal life. So yeah, just some practical thoughts from a debate/discussion perspective.

  10. 6-5-2012

    Amos i agree been there done that as well. Then i remembered Jesus was not allowed in the clergy of his day and he taught where? Highways and bi-ways

  11. 6-5-2012

    Dan I say yes to that dude!

  12. 6-5-2012


    Awesome comment! Thanks for thinking through this topic so carefully. I think you’ve brought out some very good points to consider when discussing this issue.


  13. 6-6-2012

    I think 1 Corinthians 9, 2 Corinthians 11:7-12, and 2 Corinthians 12:11-15 support the idea of regular financial or material support for someone in the work of the gospel (esp. 1 Cor. 9:14). I take this as applying not only to evangelists but also to pastors/elders. However, Paul did not take advantage of it so as not to hinder the work of the gospel. It is much better, if possible, for a pastor/elder to be able to support himself in other ways if he can, but it’s not wrong to receive a paycheck from the local assembly. (And getting monetary support for something doesn’t necessarily mean the person should be viewed as a ‘professional’.)

    There are disadvantages for those in ministry to receiving a paycheck, just as there are disadvantages for the same to get married. A regular salary can be a burden to the church. (That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. It may be a congregation’s joy to provide for the needs of those in full-time or ‘most-time’ ministry.) It can also possibly create a link in the mind of the leaders or flock that ties apparent performance with pay (i.e. ‘You’re doing a good job – we’ll pay you more.’). Etc.

    Perhaps one of the things to distinguish between good and bad here is whether a salary is viewed as helping to meet a pastor’s personal and ministerial needs versus providing him status or financial ‘security’. A pastor/elder is not in the ministry for the temporal benefits, but he is a member of the body of Christ and does have needs. Just as we all are to meet the needs of each other, we should be willing to help meet the needs of those serving us.

    (Note: I see no practical difference between pastor and elder. An elder is someone who pastors (shepherds) the flock – 1 Peter 5:1-4. I also don’t like to use the word ‘pastor’ (or any other office) as a title. It’s just a function within the Body.)

  14. 6-6-2012


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic.


  15. 6-8-2012

    Are we allowed to post scripture in this discussion about whether scripture supports the concept?

  16. 6-10-2012


    I’m sorry that I couldn’t respond earlier. I only limited the comments to answer the 2 questions on my previous post.