Money and Ministry

Posted: November 14, 2014 in Thoughts on art ministry and life
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last week I did a small series on the question most ministry folks hate to answer, “How much do you charge?” To me this reveals a fundamental problem with the understanding of money in the church. You see, I think there’s a stigma with money in ministry. There is no other profession which really faces this issue. It seems only ministry folks have to worry about being accused of being “only in it for the money.” I have a few things to say about that.

1. No one goes into ministry for the money. Oh I know there’s that “reality” show about the rich preachers, but most of us who go into ministry go into it because we want to help people, make a difference in the world, serve God and people, etc. That being said…

2. Unless you’re Catholic, your pastor has not taken a vow of poverty. One of the favorite verses people like to quote around church budget times, is “You can’t serve both God and money.” Strange that we only seem to want to apply that verse to pastors. That verse is for all of us, and for our pastors, the church could easily take that issue off the table, by meeting their financial needs so money is not even on the radar. Ten tithers should be able to cover the financial needs of a pastor, bringing them to the level of the rest of the congregation. Since the tithe is sort of the minimum expected giving, (expected by God) this should never be an issue. No pastor called by a church should ever have to worry about being able to pay his or her bills.

3. Your pastor is not your employee. This might be the most fundamental misunderstanding of them all. Yes, the pastor receives his or her income from the church, but this does not mean he/she is your employee. I’ve seen many pastors and especially youth pastors who’ve been fired by their congregations not or any moral failure, or sinful behavior, or heresy but simply because the church wanted to fire them. Youth pastors bring in the “wrong kind of kid,” you know, kids who need Jesus. Pastors preach messages that step on too many toes, and make people uncomfortable. Umm, isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? You see, a pastor is not an employee to be hired and fired at will. A pastor is not an employee hired by the church to take the congregation where they want to go. A pastor is called by God to take a congregation where God wants it to go. The worst thing a congregation can do for itself is turn on a pastor for doing the will of God. Pastors are not called to make us comfortable, they are called to make us like Jesus (see Ephesians 4).

4. What’s most important? When I go to a surgeon, I am okay if he’s rich. As a matter of fact, I kind of expect it. I want the guy who cuts me open to have evidence in his life that he is really good at what he does. Why then is it such a problem to pay the person who brings the message of eternal life? If God is truly first, as most Christians claim, then the job of pastor should be regarded top priority, should it not? I’m not saying we should put them in mansions, most pastors wouldn’t want that, but I am saying that we in congregations should give generously so that their full concentration can be on bringing the Word to the people and that giving should not be dependent on whether or not the pastor’s teaching makes us happy and comfortable. No pastor should ever be concerned about whether or not a message from God’s word will upset someone. Conviction is our friend, meant to take us from darkness to light. That should never get a pastor fired and if it does, shame on the church.

It’s not an accident that Jesus spoke more about money than about heaven and hell. Money is something we need to get right in the Church. It’s not the root of all evil, that’s the love of money. Used rightly, money is a powerful resource for ministry, a tool to accomplish our mission in this world. Those who lead us should never have to worry about it, nor should it ever be held over their heads. No true minister is in it for the money. Let’s take that stigma off the table, let them do what God has called them to do and support it. Muzzling the ox helps no one. The workman is worthy of his hire.

Take care of your pastor.

  1. As you know, this subject is part of the book a friend and I are currently writing. We have a very interested agent and are working with him to fine tune it and focus it to the needs of our specific target audience–Christians who are called to ministry, and yet realize that it takes money to do ministry, especially when it goes beyond our own community and church walls. After all, we may consider ourselves in ministry, but once money is in the picture on either side (coming in or going out) the IRS considers us in business. Money changes everything.

    Thank you for writing on this difficult, but necessary topic, Dave.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s