Thursday, April 19, 2007

Paid Clergy: An Act of Separation

As one who has been there and done that, I think there is something lacking when a paycheck is attached to ministry. I am not saying that those who are receiving a salary for ministry are corrupt.

It’s more like a negative symbiotic relationship that is created. I pay you so now I can control you. I’m your leader and therefore I can control you back. In some circles there are poor people living vicariously through their pastor, while he drives his Cadillac.

It would be difficult picturing Jesus accepting a weekly salary for what He was doing.

It also makes giving into either a mindless process where I give in such a way that I don’t know how the money is being used. Or my giving is done in order to pay someone to look after my spiritual well being. I can’t imagine Paul speaking to a slave who has just received salvation, saying to them, “OK, now that I’ve led you into this way of life, you get to pay me for that experience.”

The sad reality is that most money taken in through churches goes into buildings, programs and salaries. Very little, percentage wise, (10-20%) is actually given to those who are truly in need.

Paul was speaking to the elders in the churches of Ephesus telling them how they were to live there life regarding the care of the churches that they were in. This is 4 years after planting the church in Ephesus.

Acts 20:32 (NIV) "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: `It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

This is an established church with established elders. What does Paul instruct them in? He said he worked hard to support himself and those that were with him. He then looks at the elders and says this is what they are to do as well. Get a job and help the weak.

He didn’t say, “Teach the weak, tithing, so they can pay your salary.”

Sadly, what has happened is that when a salary is given there is a separation between clergy and laity. Some ministers desperately fight to feel like normal people not wanting that separation. Some ministers like the separateness. No matter which way it is done, there is definitely a separation when money is exchanged.

One of my deepest regrets when getting paid is that I accepted a salary that was paid, in part, by beautiful people who were in even more desperate need than I could have personally dreamed of. I am not saying that those in need should not be able to enjoy the grace of giving. I am saying that there giving should not have gone to my salary.

I repent of ever having received a salary for ministering the free gift of the gospel that was given to me. I fall on the mercy of God and ask His forgiveness.


Jamie A. Grant said...

Now there's a confessional if I ever saw one...

Robin Cecile said...

Could it be there is another aspect to this whole issue as well?

As the church evolved out of the Roman authoritarian system the positions of Priest/Pastor/clergy were created and given elevated status. This system purposefully created the seperation between clergy and laity.

Now as our society has evolved? We have become a people that don't know how or don't want to take the time to learn new things or how to do new things. We're busy doing other things that are more important to us. We now pay other people to do those things for us.

The seperation the system created has given us an out. We can pay someone to do the things we don't want to take the time to do. We can abdicate our responsibilty by paying a ________ (insert your choice, Priest, Pastor, Reverend, Minister.) If I pay them to do it for me, to do what I really should be doing, then I don't have to, and my conscience is clear.

Perhaps we have looked at our personal spiritual life in the same vein as other aspects of our life. We can just hire someone to do it for us.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

nice............. but i am sure ya would still take the check. feeding your family and all, no different than taking food or clothes your still getting paid.

David Grant said...

Nope, I'll stick to working at other things. Thanks.

I do recognize the tremendous bind that many are in who are in the profession. In fact many would leave if they felt they had other options.

Anonymous said...

it would be sad to be stuck in a job that paid little and treated you badly...........

David Grant said...

Even worse. One that puts you in a golden cage of a great salary and you are truly loved but still separated from being normal.

Anonymous said...

if you wieghed the 2 i am sure you would choose the golden, you'd never know you were different.

Mike said...

Anonymous comments. Weeeeeak.

So no full time ministers, then? Sniffs of anarchy, to me... which is not a criticism.

David Grant said...

Nope, no full time ministers. People are quite capable of loving God together. That doesn't make it easier, just more meaningful.

Elysia said...

Great work.