an encore presentation
Stewardship or Sales? The Means of Ministry
The Scriptures forbid charging for ministry (worship, preaching and teaching of God's Word, evangelism, fellowship of the church, psalms/hymns or spiritual songs, discipleship, etc. in any circumstance or situation. It is that black and white. Here are some important Scriptures to ponder in this matter (all verse quotations taken from the ESV):
Matthew 10:8-9, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers,[a] cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts" (emphasis added).
1 Corinthians 9:7-18, "Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? 8Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9For it is written in the Law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain." Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 15But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel" (emphasis added).
2 Corinthians 2:15-17, "For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ."
3 John 5-8, "Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, 6who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. 7For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles [nonbelievers]. 8Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth" (emphasis added).
God's people through faithful giving are to supply the financial support for ministry.
Ministry being: 64. Ministry is defined as service to God and His creatures as we employ our Spirit-given giftedness, according to the instruction of Scripture as good stewards of the manifold grace of God for the advancement of His kingdom; that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 4:10-12)
65. God has designed genuine ministry to be inseparable from the life and leadership of the local church. Any ministry that does not strengthen one's commitment to the local church is inconsistent with the purposes of Christ. (Acts 2:42-47; Hebrews 10:23-25) (source: from the 107 Theses by Steve Camp, part five, #'s 64-65).
All genuine ministry for the Lord cannot have an advanced price tag to pay before the ministry is given. Why? Because then it is no longer ministry, but commerce, employ, trade or entertainment.
With ministry being defined above as service to God and His creatures; and with Christ as our example, we are to give all that we are for all that He is. I used to charge honorariums and tickets to my concerts. It was wrong and I have repented. The Lord deeply convicted me after studying His Word that there ws no justification for every charging for the work of the gospel. Think of what I was doing: charging people to pay a ticket to come to a church or civic venue to hear the gospel and worship the Lord. I was ashamed. How grateful I am to the Lord for His severe mercy and restorative grace over my sin of charging tickets for that which is eternal.
I now receive love offerings from churches; and I am very grateful for those that stand with this ministry in its convictions in this area and becoming "fellow workers in the truth."
One Final Thought in Closing
The greatest proof-text people will misuse out of the Bible to try to “justify” charging for the ministry of the Lord is this familiar phrase: "the workman is worthy of his hire."
I fully agree with that phrase for it is God’s Word; but they wrongly applied when trying to condone treating ministry like a business, trade, or entertainment.
It doesn't mean we have the right to charge for “hire”. More appropriately it means those "who proclaim the gospel should receive their living by the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:14b) and do so in a manner commensorate with the gospel.
The only question is how?
Answer: by not requiring a set fee or charging tickets for people to hear genuine ministry by those who want “go into into all the world and preach the gospel.” But, biblically, genuine ministry should be supported through the cheerful, faithful giving of God's people. Aren't you glad that the Lord didn't charge any of us to hear about the good news of the gopsel unto salvation? Aren't you glad that the Holy Spirit doesn't charge any of us for the spiritual gifts He gives to the church?
Money, beloved, should not be a prerequisite for ministry. Amen?
Please pray for CCM artists, pastors, authors, speakers, and evangelical leaders who are still trapped by the allure of a market-driven ministry; parroting worldly techniques rather than emulate the humility and servanthood of Christ. This principle should even effect Christian retail bookstore outlets and how they “sell” their items; but that is for another time.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
an encore presentation