by Rainah Chambliss
Anyone who does not know that the church is a business, and in America, a big business, is living somewhere cut off from society. Churches are advertised on billboards, at bus stops, and even on entire television networks dedicated to all church, all the time, programming. Some ministry-related programs, if you are not careful, resemble an infomercial format. So, with all of the advertising and marketing done to bring in revenues from sales, offerings, and donations, what qualifies someone working for the ministry to be paid as a staff member or serve in a volunteer capacity?
Churches are filled with people doing a variety of things. Many of the tasks would provide compensation if done in a company instead of a church. Initially, the church itself was founded to be a place of worship to God and the priests who took care of the temple and ministered to the people who utilized it, were provided for by the offerings that were given.
As times have changed, people have changed, and so did the duties of those involved in ministry. How does one who supports a ministry with their time, talent, and treasure partake in the bountiful harvest that the ministry earns? Should they? Some would argue that the work of the church is much like doing chores in your home. Your participation covers your room and board and you respect the head of the household (the pastor) in the process.
So, what about the pastor? Should he be paid for his service even though he is honoring God and working in the house as well? Should more importance be placed on his work than on others who work in the church? Are the ushers worthy of pay? Why do some sextons (janitors) receive a stipend and others who help to keep the facilities clean do not? An administrator might be on the payroll but the stewards are not. The Minister of Music receives a salary, but the praise and worship leader is expected to minister for free. What are the determining factors in this process and how are these decisions made?
The first church in the book of Acts (2:44&45) tells us that everyone brought their things together so that all would have the same. Yes, Paul would probably be considered one of the first pastors, if you will, of the Christian church, and while he may have been given offerings, I find no evidence of him collecting a regular salary. However, times have changed and financial matters are handled differently today then they were two thousand years ago. While there are no clear cut answers on what churches should do about those who render their services, individually we can seek God’s face (pray) and search the Bible for instruction.
“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” (Galatians 6:9, MSG)
It is good to work in God’s House and serve your local church. There is always much to be done and with everyone lending a hand, the work will get done and there will be less weariness. Plus, it is our reasonable service.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25:21,)
We should not be look to man for our rewards, blessings, payment, etc., that is God’s department.
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-12, KJV).
We often apply this scripture to money but think of it in accordance with you time and talent as well.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (I Peter 5:7-11, NIV)
The enemy will use anything to divide us and money is one of the top reason marriages end in divorce, so imagine what is does in the House of God. We should not overly concern ourselves with the decisions made by those who are in authority over us. Our loyalty is to God and we should seek Him first so all things can be added unto us. Pray for your church leaders and the congregation alike so that the body of Christ is working as a healthy, functioning, well-oiled machine and the in everything God is glorified.
Rainah Chambliss is a writer and photographer based out of Philadelphia, PA.