A challenging piece over at A Pilgrim’s Progress today. Eric writes:
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.
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.
In light of this, what should professional pastors do? They should make plans to gradually refuse their salaries and look for regular jobs. This is a process that may take a few years and involve additional vocational training. Their churches could even help with this process. Since they will be working regular jobs, the work of the ministry will have to be spread out among the church body. This will help everyone grow in maturity. Also, the money formerly used for pastoral salaries can be put straight into missions and care for the poor. In the end everyone wins.
OK… all you paid ministry staff people out there… what do you think?
Too hard line a stance?
Or right on?
I do think that money gets in the way of vocational ministry many times. I’ll write a blog post on that sometime.
But do you agree that all paid pastors should gradually refuse their salaries and look for regular jobs?
Leave a comment.
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