Monday, October 28, 2013
When we look in the bible, we see nothing about pastors receiving salaries. The term "pastor" is rarely used ("elder" is much more common). None of the pastors or elders were part of a separate class (the clergy), and none received salaries that exempted them from regular work. Elders were spiritually mature members of the church in a city who came from that city and worked jobs in that city.OK, I think our friend here is missing all the places in scripture where a letter writer thanks a congregation for its financial support, or Pauls discussion about how he is making a living, etc. Clearly there is room in scripture for financial support of those in ministry.
Some professional pastors might respond to the title of this post by saying that they are certain God has called them to be a pastor. My question to them is, "How do you know that?" I've never heard a satisfactory answer to that question.
We know from scripture that God has gifted His children in various ways to serve His church. Some men have many pastoral gifts. God undoubtedly desires that they use these gifts to help others grow in Christian maturity. God's plan is that older, godly men will shepherd others in the body in the process of edification (of course, God actually uses everyone in the church for this process to one degree or another).
Many men who today are professional pastors have missed the mark on what God desires that they do. While God likely wants them to be a part of His shepherding model that we see in the bible, professional pastors have instead latched onto a man-created tradition. That tradition is the common model of today: the salaried expert from outside the body who is brought in to "do ministry."
So, are all tens of thousands of professional pastors wrong about what God wants them to be doing? The answer: Yes.
This may at first seem incredibly arrogant on my part. After all, how could they all be wrong? If I was simply using my own wisdom is coming to this conclusion, then it would be arrogant. However, that is not the case. Rather, I'm looking at what God has shown us about the life of His church in the bible. God's plan nowhere includes professional pastors.
Are the professional pastors, then, wrong about everything? Of course not. They probably engage in various types of shepherding activities that please God.
However, are they wrong about God calling them to be professionals? Yes. There is no room for it in biblical church life.
But I have also always made the point that there is no room in the Bible that I can find for a compensatory relationship. That is to say, the provision of services, even pastoral services with a defined monetary compensation. Such a relationship brings with it all sorts of issues, from the squelching of others int eh community perhaps equally gifted, but not receiving compensation to the handling of those that "under perform."
I do believe the the proper attitudes of gifting as opposed to compensating can be maintained in the compensation model that is forced upon us by commercial law. But only if we are willing to stare the problems in the face.