Friday, September 18, 2009

WE'RE STILL PAYING JOHN TETZEL
...should we be charging for ministry?







Should we be charging for ministry? It's an important question; and how we answer it will have tremendous consequences as to how we approach and do ministry... biblically.

As more and more Christian Publishers and CCM music companies are being bought out by non-Christian companies, have they now become unequally-yoked by surrendering their spiritual autonomy for the promise of more distribution, marketing, sales, and influence? What about corporate sponsorships for CCM touring artists or authors for their conferences and/or worship events? Should speakers and artists be charging tickets to the general public and Christian community for the purpose of worship and/or evangelistic outreach? Should pastors be charged heavy fees to attend another Bible conference designed to equip them for ministry? Has money replaced ministry? Has pragmatics replaced biblical thinking on these issues? Are those who have signed with a non-Christian company to release their CD's and books in sin or is it an a-moral issue; an issue of conscience? Has ministry been turned into big business? What's the balance in all of these things and what does the Bible say about these things?

This is an important discussion that is resurfacing today. I would like to know your thoughts on this important subject.

"Freely we have received; freely we must give..."
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7


Let's Begin Here With a Look Back in Church History
John Tetzel is not as famous as his counterpart, Martin Luther, but his role in the Reformation, though insidious, can be enlightening and a helpful warning to us all. Tetzel was Rome's chief fundraiser and one of its most politically savvy and influencial lobbyists. Money earned in the arena of faith owned his heart. Truth mixed with errror dominated his message and he profited from it significantly.

We are at a similar crossroads in our day. Faith is now big business; from publishing to Christian music money dominates the scenery which must produce big profits due to its almost exclusive secular owndership and executive management. Money--not ministry, is the passion of the hour.

Some very critical and important questions are facing us today: Has the evangelical church in America today unwittingly fallen prey to the methods and techniques of Mr. Tetzel? Does the contemporary church resemble more Tetzel's Rome than the New Testament? Has money become a prerequisite for ministry? Are we guilty of charging others for the gospel, worship, counseling, discipleship, reconciliation, music, Bible study, evangelism, etc.?

Let's take an honest look together at these important and revealing questions.

Who is John Tetzel?
John Tetzel, was Pope Leo X emissary; a braggart hired as Rome’s chief fundraiser by promising a “get out of jail free card” for the price of a financial offering to the Pope. He was ordered to sell the idea that buying indulgences would release sinners from divine punishment. "Indulgences" were printed permits or coupons listing the monetary value of a personal confession of sin. Bishop Albrecht of Mainz had authorized the sale of indulgences in order to pay Rome for making him an archbishop. The monies raised were used to assist in building St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. This became known as the selling of indulgences. Tetzel was the great mouthpiece, commissioner, and preacher of indulgences in Germany. His preaching raised enormous amounts of money which were sent to Rome. He had a very clever saying that he was infamous for when motivating people with the false promise of avoiding purgatorian punishment, playing with fear on the sentiments of many that by giving to him and Rome their friends and loved ones would be immediately released from torment to heaven's glory. He would "sing" this clever and effective little "jingle": "As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs."

Luther, who was outraged by this abhorrent practice issued a public call for theological debate on the sale of indulgences by posting his ninety-five theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on the eve of All Saint’s Day, October 31, 1517. He strategically trumped, by one day, Tetzel's influence over the people by challenging his unbiblical view of indulgences in a public forum. Printers distributed copies without Luther’s knowledge and permission. Within a few weeks, Martin Luther was known everywhere as the "voice of renewal." He began to see clearly that the church of his time stressed human merit—works righteousness, rather than trust in God alone for the salvation of men’s souls. It is no wonder that Luther and the other reformers gospel cry became: grace alone-sola gratia; through faith alone-sola fide; on the Word alone-sola Scriptura; because of Christ alone-solus Christus; to the glory of God alone-soli Deo gloria.

Just "Monking" Around
"This indulgence was highly respected. When the commissioner was welcomed to town, the Papal Bull (a written command or edict from the Pope) was carried on velvet or gold cloth. All the priests, monks, councilmen, teachers, pupils, men, women, maids, and children went to meet him singing in solemn procession with flags and candles. The bells tolled and when he entered the church the organ played. A red Cross was put up in the middle of the church to which the Pope's banner was affixed. In short: even God himself could not have been welcomed and received more beautifully.” [Source: Friedrich Myconius, Historia reformationis, p. 14.]

Here I Stand
"Although Rome wanted to silence Luther, powerful German princes, led by Elector Frederick of Saxony, Luther’s benefactor, secured freedom of speech for him. He debated with Cardinal Cajetan and the Dominican John Eck at Augsburg and Leipzig in 1519; he stated his case before Emperor Charles V at Worms in 1521 (where, standing before empire and church he said, "Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me."); and he published numerous proposals for reform from 1520 on. Nevertheless, Luther was excommunicated as a heretic and condemned as a traitor by pope and emperor in 1521.

Listen to Luther in his own words:
“When many people from Wittenberg ran after indulgences to Jüterborg and Zerbst, I did not know - as surely as my Lord Christ has redeemed me - what indulgences were, but no one else knew either. I carefully began to preach that one could do something better and more certain than to purchase indulgences. On an earlier occasion I had already preached here in the castle against indulgences, but was not very graciously received by Duke Frederick, who was fond of his collegiate church. Now, to speak about the real cause for the 'Lutheran scandal', at first I let everything continue its course.

Then it was reported to me, however, that Tetzel was preaching some cruel and terrible propositions, such as the following:
“Thus he said that if the Pope would forgive, God also had to forgive.”

“If they would put money quickly into the coffer to obtain grace and indulgence, all the mountains near St. Annaberg would turn into pure silver.”

“Such a marvellous thing was his indulgence. In sum and substance: God was no longer God, as he had bestowed all divine power to the Pope.”

“He had grace and power from the Pope to offer forgiveness even if someone had slept with the Holy Virgin Mother of God, as long as a contribution would be put into the coffer.”

“Furthermore, the red Cross of indulgences and the papal coat of arms on the flag of the churches was as powerful as the Cross of Christ.”

“Moreover, even if St. Peter were here now he would have no greater grace or power than he had.”

“Furthermore, he would not want to trade places in heaven with St. Peter, for he had redeemed more souls with his indulgences than Peter with his sermons.”

“Furthermore, if anyone put money into the coffer for a soul in purgatory, the soul would leave purgatory for heaven in the moment one could hear the penny hit the bottom.”

“Also the grace of indulgences is the grace by which man is reconciled with God.”

“Furthermore, it is not necessary to show remorse or sorrow or do penance for sins when purchasing indulgences or a letter of indulgence. He even sold indulgences for future sins. Such abominable things he did abundantly. He was merely interested in money.”
[Source: Martin Luther, Wider Hans Worst, 1541. (WA 51, 538.)]
Turnabout is Fair Play
“After Tetzel had received a substantial amount of money at Leipzig, a nobleman asked him if it were possible to receive a letter of indulgence for a future sin. Tetzel quickly answered in the affirmative, insisting, however, that the payment had to made at once. This the nobleman did, receiving thereupon letter and seal from Tetzel. When Tetzel left Leipzig the nobleman attacked him along the way, gave him a thorough beating, and sent him back empty-handed to Leipzig with the comment that this was the future sin which he had in mind. Duke George at first was quite furious about this incident, but when he heard the whole story he let it go without punishing the nobleman.” [Source: Luthers Schriften, herausg. von Walch. XV, 446.]

Out of the Heart the Mouth Speaks - John Tetzel’s Own Words:
“What are you thinking about? Why do you hesitate to convert yourself? Why don't you have fears about your sins? Why don't you confess now to the vicars of our Most Holy Pope? Don't you have the example of Lawrence, who, compelled by the love of God, gave away his inheritance and suffered his body to be burned? Why do you not take the example of Bartholomew, Stephen, and of other saints who gladly suffered the most gruesome deaths for the sake and salvation of their souls? You, however, do not give up great treasures; indeed you give not even a moderate alms. They gave their bodies to be martyred, but you delight in living well and joyfully. You priest, nobleman, merchant, wife, virgin, you married people, young person, old man, enter into your church which is for you, as I have said, St. Peter's, and visit the most holy Cross. It has been placed there for you, and it always cries and calls for you. Are you perhaps ashamed to visit the Cross with a candle and yet not ashamed to visit a tavern? Are you ashamed to go to the apostolic confessors, but not ashamed to go to a dance? Behold, you are on the raging sea of the world in storm and danger, not knowing if you will safely reach the harbor of salvation. Do you not know that everything which man has hangs on a thin thread and that all of life is but a struggle on earth? Let us then fight, as did Lawrence and the other saints, for the day it is well, but ill tomorrow. Today alive and tomorrow dead.

"You should know that all who confess and in penance put alms into the coffer according to the counsel of the confessor, will obtain complete remission of all their sins. If they visit, after confession and after the Jubilee, the Cross and the altar every day they will receive that indulgence which would be theirs upon visiting in St. Peter's the seven altars, where complete indulgence is offered. Why are you then standing there? Run for the salvation of your souls! Be as careful and concerned for the salvation of your souls as you are for your temporal goods, which you seek both day and night. Seek the Lord while he may be found and while he is near. Work, as St. John says, while it is yet day, for the night comes when no man can work.

“Don't you hear the voices of your wailing dead parents and others who say, 'Have mercy upon me, have mercy upon me, because we are in severe punishment and pain. From this you could redeem us with a small alms and yet you do not want to do so.' Open your ears as the father says to the son and the mother to the daughter . . ., 'We have created you, fed you, cared for you, and left you our temporal goods. Why then are you so cruel and harsh that you do not want to save us, though it only takes a little? You let us lie in flames so that we only slowly come to the promised glory.' You may have letters which let you have, once in life and in the hour of death . . . full remission of the punishment which belongs to sin. Oh, those of you with vows, you usurers, robbers, murderers, and criminals - Now is the time to hear the voice of God. He does not want the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live. Convert yourselves the, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, to the Lord, thy God. Oh, you blasphemers, gossipers, who hinder this work openly or secretly, what about your affairs? You are outside the fellowship of the Church. No masses, no sermons, prayers, sacraments, or intercession help you. No field, vineyard, trees, or cattle bring fruit or wine for you. Even spiritual things vanish, as many an illustration could point out. Convert yourself with all you heart and use the medicine of which the Book of Wisdom says, 'The Most High has made medicine out of the earth and a wise man will not reject it.'”
[Source: W. Köhler, Dokumente zum Ablassstreit, pp. 125-26.]

The above are quoted from The Reformation, by Hans J. Hillerbrand, published by Harper & Row, publishers, Copyright 1964 by SCM Press Ltd and Harper and Row, Inc., Library of Congress catalog card number 64-15480, pp.41-46.

We’re Still Paying John Tetzel
Tetzel used faith as a means to solicit money; and he used money as a means to promise God's blessing in faith. Unorthodox and heretical as his Pelagian theology was--his methods were cleverly pragmatic and devastatingly effective. Sadly, that has become all too familiar in the evangelical community in America today. The residue of Tetzelian methodology is now evident in almost every area of the Christian faith; for almost every aspect of our faith is now for sale. The promise of faith's blessing for financial giving is all too common. Shockingly, this is not just being done by heretics of John Tetzel influence (the "word-faith" movement, Romanism, etc.), but from mainline evangelicalism itself. Today, the "means of grace" command high fees for the salvation and sanctification of men's souls. We now have our own brand of "indulgences" in the evangelical world that people must pay before they can be ministered to and receive the promise of spiritual blessing from the Lord.

Need you think I'm being a gadfly or an alarmist, consider the following: the health, wealth, prosperity crowd is famous for saying, "send me a donation and God will give you your healing or prosper you," etc.; to hear the gospel in song or word these days, people are charged a pricey ticket or hefty honorarium totaling in the millions each year; worship gatherings and concerts are also high ticket items and are now owned by large multi-national corporations--it's "Worship, Inc."; reconciliation between disgruntled churches or disenfranchised believers can cost you in the thousands, at current hourly rates, just to bring restoration between others; psychological Christian counselors are the new "pastors of discipleship" and do charge you and your insurance company untold millions each year to "help you" deal with the deep problems of the mind and heart; the further training of pastors at Bible conferences can cost up to hundreds of dollars for the registration fee alone- plus materials; to find "the purpose" in "the purpose driven life" is also expensive--in order for churches to get to the material necessary to really equip their congregates more fully on the website and/or satellite broadcasts, they must pay a handsome fee based on size of church membership. Even for a small congregation those fees can total several hundred dollars; and finally at Christian retail stores-- Bibles, books, CD’s, tapes, trinkets, gifts, greeting cards, etc. are available for a pretty tidy sum as well - "ad nauseam ad infinitum."

Question: How are we better than the Tetzel Romanists of old on methodology just because we get it right biblically and/or theologically? Does that give us the right to charge God’s people and make retail merchandise of His holy Word and His gospel? And charge, mind you, for that which He has given to us freely?

Spurgeon saw the danger in his day during the Down-Grade Controversy when the Baptist Union was adopting, not a skewed theology mind you, but a worldly methodology for ministry. Spurgeon's concerns were justified; an abhorrent methodology will ultimately give way to a abhorrent theology - thus corrupting and polluting the entire church. Spurgeon was absolutely right on and history has proven him correct.

In like manner, the contemporary church today has adopted a worldly methodology--parroting worldly marketing techniques for ministry rather than biblical ones. Some will try to pragmatically justify these methods through "marketing and promotional language and values." Here's how the rhetoric usually goes: "if we can get more coverage in mainline stores and through the media, more people will hear the message... more people will get saved... more ministry will be accomplished... our churches will grow greater in number... and, therefore, more glory to God can ultimately be given. What's wrong with that, man? And after all, we're just trying to cover expenses; isn't a workman worthy of his hire?

Skubalon!

Such skewed rationale to justify our own lust for the "legal tender" by twisting God's Word is rubbish ladies and gentlemen. That kind of logic is dung, human excrement worthy only of the manure pile! It is foreign to Christ, the Apostles, the early church and church fathers. Fling it to the winds, for it is a stench in the nostrils of a holy God. This is not ministry beloved--no matter how you package it; it is but love of money (1 Timothy 6:5-17). Jesus said, "We cannot serve both God and Mammon..." How dare we turn the grace of God into industry? How dare we make Him the object of our fleshly lusts and worldly pursuits? How dare we make His precious gospel and Word something for personal profit? How dare we pretend to be heavenward in all our efforts, when our daily activity is only about amassing earthly things? How dare we place on the backs of God’s people a promise of healing, prosperity, salvation, a new promotion, a better station in life, any kind of spiritual blessing if they only give to such and such a ministry? How dare we promise spiritual insight and wisdom if they only would financially send money "our way?"

Money Should Not be a Prerequisite for Ministry
The Scriptures are clear that genuine ministry is to be supported through the sacrificial giving of God's people in and through the local church. Pastors who teach and preach faithfully are worthy of "double honor" - a financial term (1 Timothy 5:17-18). Travelling missionaries and musicianaries alike; doing the work of the evangelist--those spreading the gospel to an unsaved world are to be cared for by the people of God as well (3 John 5-8 and Philippians 4:15-19). Even the Apostle Paul says, "that if we are about the work of the gospel that we should eat by the gospel... Do not muzzle the ox while he is threshing out the grain... A workman is worthy of his hire" (cp, 1 Corinthians 9:7-18).

But we must never make it a fixed-demand up front in order "to minister" for the Lord and to others. We must never put a price tag for serving the Lord, His people or a lost world. And we must never promise spiritual blessing for the sake of soliciting funds. Both are wrong; both are sin. Money can never be a prerequisite for ministry... amen? Once again, "Freely we have received; freely we must give." I had to repent of this beloved. I was sinning against the Lord and His people for charging churches, concert goers, etc. a ticket to hear me sing, lead in worship, or preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was sin and nine years ago the Lord gave me the grace to walk away from the current CCM industry, and, to the best of my ability, follow a biblical model from that day to present for ministry instead. I don't even charge for CD's anymore either... they are available for whatever people can afford; and if anyone can't afford anything, they may get any item for free.

That is our policy with AudienceONE Music/Ministries as well. Though these days are leaner financially than before, the ministry has wonderfully deepened; and I wouldn't go back to the "old ways" for anything in the world. Why...? Because it's not about me and my music; and my fame; and my glory; and my income; and my influence; and my sales; and my airplay; and my recognition; and my noteriety; and my touring; and my press release; and chart action; and my celebrity. It is only about Christ and His glory; and His gospel; and His Word being honored; and His church being served; and this world hearing the gospel. It's not about us, it's all about Him!

Just By Faith
Oh for men and women of God that won’t buy into the spirit of the age and sell their souls for the pottage of prominence, prestige, power, or position. To give all for the sake of the gospel and not parrot the world; to "let goods and kindred go" and model the Master's life. May we repent of any Tetzelian tendencies that we may be gulty of individually or corporately in the church; and say with Peter. "Silver and gold have I none, but what I do have I give to you freely..." (Acts 3:6).

It was said of Luther that during the Reformation you would hear him preach almost exclusively from the book of Galatians—“the Magna Charta of Spiritual Freedom.” Listen to these powerful words of Paul and may they ignite your heart and life to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified—and to always offer freely the blessed gospel of grace and His divine truth.
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. I have confidence in you in the Lord, that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. Would that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves. For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:1-13).

this has been an encore presentation

43 comments:

Peter O said...

Top, top, post. Preach it loud Steve.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Amen!

HPJack said...

Steve, I purchased Consider the Cost on cassette and again on CD. I still listen to it and am not affronted paying for it. The songs are a treasure I leaned on during my beginning years as a follower of Christ.
Are you really saying that all musically talented Christians must fall into the career structure you outlined? Is there a place for Christians who entertain vs. minister?
Thanks.

HPJack

SavedandSure said...

There is nothing boring or dull about this blog!

Your choice of subjects is to be highly commended!

Persevere!

Carla said...

You know Steve...

one of the reasons I began reading this blog (last year?) when you first started blogging, was because I caught on right away that you have this astounding ability to completely sidestep the tough topics, the controversial issues, and the in-house debates; opting instead for fluff & stuff.

:o)

In all seriousness, this certainly is a timely and most important topic and this post is an excellent example of why I keep coming back.

Good words, good food for thought. Thank you Steve.

SDG,
Carla

candleman said...

Powerful post Steve, not sure if I agree with all of it (Tetzel selling indulgences, which clearly isn’t even remotely biblical vs. talented full time Christian musicians penning songs on biblical truth and finding a market place for them). But none the less, it was a powerful piece and has raised a lot of thought provoking questions. I know in my quest to more fully understand the Doctrines of Grace, it was the free MP3’s out there, and discussions on the Dividing Line that were freely offered via ministries that have helped me to more fully realize that salvation truly is not about us, but all about Him.

Grace and Peace to you!

{{{Candleman}}}

Bill Arnold said...

I can't blame you for changing your "career path" according to your conscience. I think you just have to be careful about what you expect others to do.

I think that "a workman is worth his hire." While I don't think the goal of a Christian artist should be to get rich, I think they need to be wise in the way they do business in order to support their family and their craft.

SJ Camp said...

"I think that "a workman is worth his hire."

Agreed. If you live by the gospel you have the right to eat from the gospel (1 Cor. 9:1-18). The issue is not about not getting paid--but how?

Do you charge tickets or massive honorariums or take offerings and trust the Lord to provide? (cp, 3 John 4-8). Could you imagine having to pay a "cover charge" to get into a church to hear the preaching or worship with God's people? Unthinkable.

One key word of encouragement for Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church: With all the criticism of late directed at the EC (and in part to Mark Driscoll), I do want to publicly say how grateful I am that Mark and Mars Hill do not charge for any of their sermons by MP3. THIS is a huge step in the right direction and an example that other ministries need to follow.

Thank you Mark for stepping out in faith brother--it is greatly appreciated!

Grace and peace,
Steve

Shawn L said...

Wow thanks Steve for this again. I have read something like this before from you

candleman said...

For me it is not so much that they offer them for free, which is nice when you can find it, but at least a reasonable price. Most MP3’s at Dr. Whites are $1-$3, depending on file size, which in my opinion is very reasonable. I was interested in getting the Mohler/Patterson discussion on Calvinism, at SBC this year, until I saw they were selling it for $10.

Steve:

Does this post have anything to do with why you don’t post your concert dates at A1M?

Any thoughts on genre of music? If biblical lyrics penned by the artist matches their passion for Christ in their daily walk, in your view is Christian Rap a viable genre of music as being discussed here?

{{{Candleman}}}

Bill Arnold said...

"Could you imagine having to pay a "cover charge" to get into a church to hear the preaching or worship with God's people? Unthinkable."

I agree. It's definitely something to be careful about.

donsands said...

Good stuff to read. The love of $ is truly the root of all sorts of evil. Jesus said beware of greed.

Thanks for taking the time to post such a fine article to read and think over.
And your sharing your own testimony is truly inspiring.

Alistair Begg talked about this subject one time, and he has a very similar testimony as yours.

Jimmie W. Kersh said...

Mr. Camp,

I still cannot force myself to call a hero by his first name. I am in the process of finishing a book for the church in general. I consider what I am writing a gift from God and can not imagine charging much more than my costs becasue it is a ministry for the church. I also know that if I were to do conferences concerning the book, that all I want is my expenses to be covered.

Ephesians teaches that we work for the purpose of providing for those less fortunate. God takes care of his own and those of us who have been blessed to minister should also take care of His own as well.

I know we have to live and should be paid appropriately, but we should not be fleecing the sheep we are sent to minister to as shepherds.

~Mark said...

Ironically, I just found out that Yolanda Adams floor tickets for her upcoming appearance are $50. I ain't payin' that much to see anybody! Plus I really can't afford to spend that much on a concert. I'm bummed 'cause my best friend is playing bass for her appearance and I wanted to surprise him. Guess I'll have to see if he has any comps. ;)

Which brings me to a question... how does one rightfully gain the money to pay for the hall, techs, labor and so on without offering tickets? I think that the love offering/personal support method is the most freeing for ministry, btu what about when you have people who must be paid "x" amount of dollars?

donsands said...

Way back I went to a Carman concert in Baltimore at the Civic Center.
It was free admission.

Half way through the concert Carman took at break. I was headed to the rest room, when he shouted no body move!
He then went on and on about how he needed $33,000 dollars for the rental, and he suggested that at least 33 people could give $1,000 each.
Man, was I upset. Very wrong for him to do all that.
Actually the Lord used that to help bring me out from among these Word of Faith types.

I went to see Mark farner way back, and it was only $9. I thought this was fair, and I enjoyed the way he honored the Lord and His Word. Very encouraging, and I imagine the $9 was just to cover the costs of all that goes with travel, etc.

Yankeerev said...

O.K. I have to pipe in here. I am a little frustrated that our local christian radio station is having quarterly events with the likes of Chip Ingram, Hank Hannegraph, etc. They are advertising a great night of instruction and worship, and the cost is $15. Now I know there is such a thing as overhead...but I it just doesn't settle well with me to encourage my people to go pay $15 to hear a man of God preach.

The next on the list is Alistari Begg, one of my favorites, and I am struggling.

Rod

Todd said...

Steve,

While I agree with your thoughts on the materialistic church of the United States, I think it somewhat of a stretch to compare Tetzel's selling of indulgences as a source of fundraising for the Roman Catholic Church with Christian musicians charging for concerts and CD's. As you know Purgatory is an official doctrine of the RC church. The deluded laity of the Middle Ages blindly followed Rome's heretical teachings and sincerely believed if they donated money to the likes of Tetzel they could shorten the time spent in purgatory. I don't think anyone who spends money to attend a concert, purchase a CD or attend a seminar thinks that by doing so will somehow help him to get to Heaven. Nor does any evangelical church sanction such a practice.

"He has never told us we shall be rich, healthy, and at ease in our habitations, but on the contrary, He has often told us we must expect troubles in the world (John 16:33), and that we must "through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22)."
-John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence

Todd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John Hollandsworth said...

Steve,
I'm not sure whether you got Piper's august letter, but if you didn't the title was "Faith Comes by Hearing: Why we are putting all of John Piper's Sermons Online for Free" an excerpt: "We don't just permit you to download for free. We ENCOURAGE you to do it! We could make more money if we sold the sermons. So why are we giving them away?...more people in love iwth Christ...serving the saints...removing obstacles to the gospel....quoting 1Co 9:6-12 "the issue for Paul was not what was rightfully permitted (charging), but what was most radically fruitful"

'nuff said.

Terry Rayburn said...

Todd,

I don't mean to speak for Steve, but the point is that Tetzel was purporting to *minister* to the people. If the indulgences were real (ridiculous, of course), then to withhold them from those who could not pay was the worst of sins.

Steve's point is contained in the simple statement, "Money Should Not be a Prerequisite for Ministry".

You can agree or disagree with that statement, but the relationship to Tetzel is a valid one: Refusing *ministry* to one who can't afford it.

Blessings,
Terry

littlegal_66 said...

Steve Camp said: How dare we turn the grace of God into industry? How dare we make His precious gospel and Word something for personal profit? How dare we place on the backs of God’s people a promise of healing, prosperity, salvation, a new promotion, a better station in life, any kind of spiritual blessing if they only give to such and such a ministry?

Fair enough, but doesn't this cut both ways? On the flipside of this, how dare I, as one of God's people, be an enabler of that type of activity? How dare we offer validation to such offenses by paying an admission just to get into a worship venue? How dare we encourage this type of mentality by willingly purchasing tickets to these types of events? How dare we grease the wheel by enabling a minister to demand an exorbitant amount of funds in exchange for his ministry?

Back 11 or 12 years ago, I thought nothing of forking over $40.00 a pop, just so that I could sit in the "artist's circle," at Christian concerts. Then, a couple of years later, I came to realize that I was contributing to the downgrade of Christian music ministry by blindly playing the part of "consumer," thereby doing my financial part to make it an industry. I stopped attending Christian concerts if I had to pay in advance or an admission fee at the door. Soon after that realization, a lone voice published his "107 Theses," and I knew that my perspective on Christian music and on Christian ministry would never be the same.
(Thanks, [again], Campi). :-)

Let's bankrupt John Tetzel!!

P.S. Oops-I guess I should have saved some of my thoughts on this important issue for Part 2. ;-)

candyinsierras said...

I think this is an excellent article but was bothered by one statement....the further training of pastors at Bible conferences can cost up to hundreds of dollars for the registration fee alone- plus materials. I don't think this should be included because I am assuming most of the cost is the cost of putting on the conference, but your statement sort of lumps all conferences together (or at least sounds like it). If you are going to make a statement like that, shouldn't you include the "Pulpit Crimes" cruise you are going to participate in shortly?

CalvinNo5 - Chris Allen said...

First, I think we should not ignore the teachings of those who have gone before us. We should understand that there should be nothing that hinders those who are lost from hearing the Gospel.

I don't mind paying for a conference that is geared for a more in depth study like @ John Mac's or RC Sproul's Conferences. (they also offer scholarships too!)


Hebrews 12
God Disciplines His Sons
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.


Hebrews 13:

5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
"Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you."[a] 6So we say with confidence,
"The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"[b]

7Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

9Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.


Amen! Brother Steve!!!

CovJack said...

I certainly am on board with you, Steve, regarding the ridiculous price some pay for an event that is ministry and outreach ("An Evening with Joel," anyone?). However, I think we need to be very clear about what is being offered at specific events.

I don't go to a conference on preaching, for example, to hear the gospel or be "ministered to." I am going to pick up tips and ideas from others in ministry. I have no problem at all paying a registration fee to attend such a conference, because I recognize that the cost of putting it on is significant. However...I would anticipate that ANY profit that is left over at the end is used to offset the cost of other such events or would go directly into ministry. In my mind, a teaching/resource conference should always be break-even for the church. There should be nothing left over.

Also, there's reference at the beginning here to Christian publishers whose companies have been bought out by secular companies, "surrendering their spiritual autonomy for the promise of more distribution, marketing, sales, and influence."

At my church we have quite a few people in the Christian publishing industry, including representatives of companies which were bought out by a secular publishing company. At no time, Steve, were the "promises" you refer to an issue. These decisions were not motivated by the pursuit of "more," but rather by undeniable realities in the business world. And at no time have they felt pressured to operate with any less autonomy than before. They operate with their own staff, their own budgets, and they make their own decisions. They do not need to get approval from anyone at all. At least not the companies I know of.

SJ Camp said...

I really appreciate the excellent interaction and thoughts represented here by all on this thread. I am tremendously blessed by the well thought out nature of these comments--thank you all.

A few brief thoughts:
James:
This is good news to hear. I have always appreciated Dr. Piper's ministry and this is a step in the right direction. For a long time he hadn't operated in this fashion; in fact, there were some fairly lengthy words he wrote trying to justify why they charge for their materials. I am delighted to hear that he has had a change of heart in this area.

Candy
You wrote: If you are going to make a statement like that, shouldn't you include the "Pulpit Crimes" cruise you are going to participate in shortly?"

No--the two are vastly different. One is covering costs that either an airline, ship, etc. set for their services. The other is in the local church's control--primarily charging a fee just for coming to the conference. The expenses usually associated with a large conference could be covered by offerings so that no one is prohibited from attending due to financial viability. The two are completely different scenarios.

BTW: Sovereign Cruises who organizes the cruises for James White, Tom Ascol, myself and others, without question offers the lowest prices in the industry. On the pulpit crimes cruise, a cabin that might cost well over a $1,000.00 with another cruise organizer, Sovereign Cruises offers for slightly over $400.00. How? Because Sovereign Cruises does not have any "hidden" fees that takes advantage of others and puts excessive profits into the pockets of their host organization by padding the per cabin price.

They (SC) do this as a ministry to the body of Christ. You can't stay in most cities in the U.S. for $400.00 for an entire week in an average hotel, plus meals, plus rent a car, and sightseeing ventures, etc. Almost impossible. That same money with Sovereign Cruises puts you on a beautiful cruise ship for seven days and nights visiting exciting and interesting ports in different parts of the world; the food is second to none; on board activities are fun for the whole family; and with Sovereign Cruises you get to hear solid orthodox bible teaching, Christian fellowship, discussion groups, late night theology talks, etc. It is pound for pound the best value for a week's vacation and conference found anywhere in the U.S.

Bible conferences, featuring most well known names, have a national average of about $175.00. per person. Some higher--some lower. If you add in hotel, food, rent-a-car, etc. you are massively over $400.00.

The two are vastly different.

Terry:
Thank you for your clarifying remarks--you are right on target.

Covjack:
Your information is a bit naive.

No Christian company (music or publishing) that gets bought out for millions of dollars is then free to do whatever they want to do--it doesn't work that way in business--not even between secular companies.

I have spoken, in past years, to most heads of the CCM music companies that have under gone these buy-outs, and without exception, they do not have the final say when it comes to bottom line performance that affects profitability. The secular companies are there for one reason only, to turn a profit--make money. I don't fault them for that--they don't know any better. But as you know, many times the ministry is not financially profitable. We see this in Scripture as well, don't we... People usually don't enter the ministry to get rich (unless you are part of the heretical Word/Faith movement).

Listen, when you are beholding to nonbelievers for the kind of material you generate and what pushes the buttons in the marketplace for consumers and what does not, then the first and foremost consideration is not what is true, honoring to the Lord, beneficial for His church, the most biblical, doctrinal or theological, etc. but what can generate the most revenue. I call it: "The Consumer Driven Church."

Again, I do not fault nonbelievers who have that agenda--I do fault Christians who sold out their companies for more money or to widen their market influence--they should know better. As one executive told, "I'll take the $40,000,000 now and repent later).

Q - What are the names of the publishers you have dealt with in this field of secular buy-outs? Who are the executives that you know that are giving this kind of spin? I would like to speak with them directly.

In Conclusion:
Aren't you glad the Apostle Paul didn't charge people to get a copy of Galatians or Romans? Aren't you glad that the early church could sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs as part of their worship of praise to the Lord without having to pay licensing fees or sell tickets to their concerts?

Could you begin to imagine the Apostle Paul charging hundreds of dollars for men of God to come together and learn how to be better pastors and preachers of the gospel? Unthinkable. Most wouldn't even attend; for Paul received the majority of his pastoral training inside a prison, being beaten with rods and whips, hated by countrymen and churchmen alike (2 Cor. 11); he had no earthly goods to speak of, no wealth, no retirement plan, 401k's, or even a small book allowance. The only "stocks and bonds" he knew came from being incarcerated; and at the end of his life no one came to his defense as he was rotting away inside a Roman jail before being beheaded by Nero.

Could you imagine some disciples charging people an admission fee for people to come to the "Sermon on the Mount Bible Conference" to hear the Lord Jesus Christ preach? What it must have been like to be there to hear God incarnate, Jesus Christ in the flesh, preach the very Word of God... and for free!

The times, they are a changing... Make no mistake about it, we are still paying John Tetzel.

Grace and peace,
Steve
Col. 1:9-14

Sparks said...

Being the "voice of one crying in the wilderness" has never been a popular position. God bless you Steve for standing up.

One has merely to walk into a typical Christian bookstore today and look around with open eyes to see what is most important. Two or three aisles of Bibles, Commentaries, Lexicons, Bible Dictionaries surrounded by aisle after aisle of books written by man, trinkets, art work, music books/compact discs/videos, small group study packages, etc. I was in a Christian bookstore not too long ago and the Bibles were on two small aisles in the very back of the store.

It has been over a year since I ran across the A1M.org web site and was stunned to read Steve's 101 Thesis. My heart and mind was opened to see so much going on in today's churches and ministries. I was led to begin comparing what was said and done in churches and by ministries against what is written in the Word.

I now question when people write their articles, books, sermons, etc that are considered to be important enough to the Body of Christ that these things must be read/heard - yet I must pay to read/hear their words of wisdom.

The narrow path is not popular. The narrow path is not easy. The narrow path does not lead to worldly profits, but to eternal life through Christ Jesus alone.

candyinsierras said...

Hmmm...I think my husband and I need to think about taking a cruise! Actually, we did think about attending a Christian seminar cruise, just don't have enough money at this time.

Eric Canaday said...

While raising money to take on a full time ministry position I realized that the financial support that I thought that I deserved went beyond the actual amount of my need. Convicted, I went back to "work" and launched a website that allowed me to share my thoughts and ideas free of charge (www.laborersinaction.com)

Our #1 priority has to be the Kingdom. If making money comes before our commitment to helping others enter a loving intimate relationship with Christ we have missed it. I think Paul sums it up in 1 timothy 6:6-12:

"There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.

But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

I believe God has called us to every walk of life so I am not against those who have been allowed to obtain significant wealth. Still to whom much is given, much is required. Money is an excellent servant but a horrible master. As we pursue God's best for our lives it is critical that we remember that the greatest treasure that we have to offer the world is our loving intimate relationship with Christ.

Marcia said...

I live in the same city as Rod Parsley's church. There is a lot of buzz around him here, so I watched his TV show one day. I couldn't believe that when he asked for offerings, neon MasterCard and Visa signs flashed in the "sanctuary."

My husband was really interested in Joel Osteen for a while, and then he figured out that he wasn't even teaching Scripture! Here is someone not only making profit from "ministering," but also providing his members with total misinformation. Ugh.

Anyway, this blog makes me consider thoughts I never would have on my own.

BTW, is there a link somewhere about the Purpose-Driven stuff? I know of a lot of people who are into that.

P.S. Carla--you're funny. Fluff, indeed.

trylbyfyr said...

Great post Steve. A lot of things the church needs to be challenged with today. One thing that has made me think recently is while singing praise to God in church, it hit me that we can't sing this song to God without paying a royalty.

I do disagree with some of the criticism of CCM though. Why can't a Christian make a living as a musician? If they are claiming to have a music "ministry" then they shouldn't be charging for the gospel, but if not what is wrong with music as a profession as opposed to a ministry? As I hear the music the kids I work with listen to and all of the sexual references and other garbage it is refreshing to hear switchfoot come on the radio next with "we were meant to live for so much more." I'm not offended that they charge for their music or concerts just because they are Christians. I don't expect my doctor's services to be free if he is a Christian. I'm glad there is Christian music out that I can listen to without all kinds of garbage in it. Maybe we should just take "Christian" out of the title and it will be okay.

CovJack said...

Steve--

Your comments with regard to the CCM industry I will gladly accept--you have been there and you know what's going on.

My comments were specifically tied to publishing companies (books, not music) whose representatives I have personally interacted with. And again, I walked away from those encounters understanding from them that the decisions to merge were not out of any grandiose hopes for more sales and more profits as you suggested in your post, and I did not sense from them that they had surrendered their spiritual autonomy but that they operated as an independent unit.

I'm not saying that it's the right thing that these companies are partnered with secular companies (for example, it amazes me that one company here in my home town publishes the best-selling Bible in the world while their parent company publishes a book called "The Joy of Gay Sex."). All I'm saying is that the motivations for the mergers were not increased impact or profit and that the day-to-day operations of the companies are not impeded by "secular overlords."

I would be willing to accept the possiblity that these executives simply did not wish to cast their situation in a bad light, but at the same time these are men of integrity whom I have come to trust, and I would think and hope they would be open and honest with me.

As far as giving names and such, I would be hesitant to do so without checking with them first.

And here's something I think we could both agree with--regardless of merger motives or secular parent company influence, the bigger problem is that most Christian books churned out today are meant to stroke the "Christian ego" rather than challenge believers to holiness and a lifestyle of world-impact. This was true before the secular companies stepped in, and as long as Christians are more interested in spiritual navel-gazing than being Christlike, the publishing companies will continue to feed 'em what they want...whoever owns them.

Continued love to you from someone whose life was changed when he heard "Run to the Battle"...God bless you, Steve.

Lance said...

It would be interesting if you (Steve) could join us at www.signposts.org.au for the ongoing discussion on the direction of church and Christian music.

One of the regular posters at Signposts is Geoff Bullock .. founder of the Hillsong Conference and writer of "The Power of Your Love".

He is currently re-recording his former Hillsong music with new lyrics to reflect his change in theology from the prosperity gospel.

While I wholeheartedly agree with your views on contemporary Christian music....as a gay man though Steve...I must say ...to be blunt.... I struggle with your false humility...

Your abomination of pride (proverbs 16:5)..and arrogance...for which blog contributors here regularly call you on and you regularly ignore....is also part of America's moral decline.

Thankfully...Christ paid the ultimate price for your abomination of pride.

Now let's see you extend that unmerited grace to others...who don't deserve forgiveness for their sins either.

Or does your abomination of pride prevent you from being corrected by a homo?

(Romans 2..if you're not sure what I'm talking about)


Lance.

Perth, Australia.

Marcia said...

Lance,

What a gratuitous reference to being gay. It had nothing to do with the content of your post.

And personally, I don't see any need for you to come here and be so disrespectful.


(Mr. Camp--if this is feeding the trolls, you can delete it. I just found the post irritating.)

Lance said...

Steve knows exactly what I'm talking about...especially when he's 'standing in the temple...praying....thanking God he's not like those 'sinners'..'

Just like most of the rest of the posers in the American church do..

It's the people who are unable to lift up their face to God...and say..'Lord have mercy on me, a sinner'..who are right with God.

That's only according to Jesus though....so I suppose in your own 'righteousness'...you've moved beyond the stage of needing to listen to Him.

Marcia said...

Lance said, "It's the people who are unable to lift up their face to God...and say..'Lord have mercy on me, a sinner'..who are right with God."

There is also a call to spiritual maturity.

Hebrews 5:11-14

11We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.


As far as Mr. Camp seeming arrogant, perhaps it only seems that way because you don't like what he has to say. I have in the past resented it when someone pointed something Biblical out to me in regard to my behavior, only to later realize that the resentment came from that old adage, the truth hurts.

Christians are, in fact, called to discipline and instruct other church members.

2 Timothy 24-26

24And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

1 Corinthians 5: 12-13


12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you"

2 Thessalonians 3: 14-15

14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Titus 1:9-13

9He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
10For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. 11They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12Even one of their own prophets has said, "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons." 13This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith






4given said...

Dear Lance,
I am not a self-righteous, holier-than-thou homophobic "Christian" that disapproves of homosexuality because I believe in a vengeful fag-hating folktale God. And I can assure that most of the people that post here are not either.

Homosexuality is sin. And what I find most disheartening are Christians singling out any particular sin such as homosexuality because they have divided sin into levels... classifying some sins as more sinful than others sins. When in God's eyes, sin is sin.
Let's say a man that is a homsosexual says to an evangelist, "So you say I am going to hell because I am a homosexual?"
The evangelist should say, "No, you are going to hell because you are a sinner. But then, Christ died for sinners such as I..." (and then he, God-willing, shares the uncompromised Gospel...)

That is what this blog is about. Speaking the truth in love without compromising the Gospel. These things are not personal issues. THey are doctrinal issues.

No, visible morality IS NOT evidence of genuine salvation. And please realize that God has NOT dealt with His adopted children according to their sin. If He dealt with us all according to our sin,we would not just be dangling over the fires of hell, we would be justifiably immersed and dwelling eternally in the fires of hell no matter how visibly moral we may appear to be. Remember, sin is sin and God is holy.

"...Truth, when viewed as absolute and knowable, has become offensive in our society. All one has to do these days is state a theological truth and he will immediately be accused of intolerance. This is quickly becoming the prevailing attitude of the Church as well."--Phil Johnson

Right and wrong CANNOT depend on the prevailing attitudes of the culture in which the act takes place. As Christians, morality and sound doctrine is something we SHOULD take seriously. Why would we, as Christians, even toy with the idea that moral standards and God's Holy Word should be indexed to the ebb and flow of the prevailing popular opinion in our culture for that time period? Isn't that a picture of being "tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine?"

There are knowable and absolute truths found in the Word of God.

Here is a quote sent to me by a friend on the futility of relativism:

“The statement…’Everything is relative’…is self-refuting, because it is always given as an absolute. (One student countered his infidel professor who had just said that everything is relative by asking him if he were absolutely sure of that!) [It’s] like the statement ‘Everything I say is a lie’; if everything I say is a lie, then the statement itself is a lie. My declaration means I must actually be someone who tells the truth. But if I always tell the truth, then how can I say that everything I say is a lie? The proposition is nonsense because it refutes itself.” --Robert A. Morey

(Some of the above are excerpts from a post I recently made.)

4given said...

I wrote The evangelist should say, "No, you are going to hell because you are a sinner. But then, Christ died for sinners such as I..." (and then he, God-willing, shares the uncompromised Gospel...)

What I should have written: The evangelist should say, "No, people go to hell because they are sinners. But then, Christ died for sinners such as I..." (and then he, God-willing, shares the uncompromised Gospel...)

4given said...

Psalm 51 says it all...

Have mercy on me, O God,according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart... Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you... O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise...

Nate Custer said...

Steve, thanks for this for hosting this great discussion. A quick question have you relicenced the copyright on any of your music in light of these convictions?

Have you released any songs into the public domain or used one of the Creative Commons licenses that were written to allow for the continued creative use of your music by other people.

To make this concreate: if my youth group were to put together a video montage of the mission trip they just came back from and wanted to use one of your songs to describe what had happened, are their songs they could legally do that with?

Tiber Jumper said...

Dear Steve:
As a former evangelical christian musician and now Catholic convert, I have seen much Tetzellian influence on both sides of the fence. I hope that when you equate Romanist=heretics in your blog, you are not using a broad brush to paint the entire Catholic Church.
As you know , John Tetzel was officially rebuked for his actions and the official teaching of the church has always been that it is wrong to sell indulgences.
There have been historic an monumentous errors made by reformers as well, and yet we don't throw out the baby with the bath water.
Sometimes, it requires a careful reading of Catholic teaching before coming to a conclusion about it as heresy. I thought it was heresy for thirty years until I began to read the history of the early church and found their beliefs were quite Catholic.
Please check out my blog for my conversion testimony as well as Rob Evan's Donut Man, recent Catholic conversion story .
God bless you,

Arthur Sido said...

First, I would say that this is a conversation that is desperately needed and often avoided like the plague. So thanks for bringing it up. I think this is especially pertinent when we examine this question in the local church as opposed to traveling missionaries.

Having not perused the other comments, these are my thoughts. Paul was not a pastor in the sense we think of, a permanent employee of a local gathering of the church. He was a missionary, an evangelist. He also points out in 1 Cor 9 that while he had the right to be paid, he made no use of his right to be financially supported as a missionary (1 Cor 9:12; 1 Cor 9:15). In Acts 20: 33-35 Paul goes out of his way to remind the brothers that he worked for a living while also preaching the Word.

So no, we should not pay people to minister in the local church. We should recognize men from among the body as elders, not as employees. They should serve willingly, without being paid, supporting their families and giving to others by the work of their own hands.

What 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. (1Co 9:18)


(For an excellent look at the "worthy of double honor" question, see: http://www.alanknox.net/2007/10/what-about-honor-for-elderspastors/)

~Mark said...

INCREDIBLE timing on this post. I recently left my 1st and only home church since 1993 over a variety of issues after 5 years of back and forth with the senior pastor and Elders over the issues which were growing in acceptance.

Just yesterday I got a call from a friend still in attendance who told me that one of the issues I'd been pressing was being addressed finally.

We'd always had Bibles in the pews until we switched from pews to chairs, then for reasons that were never explained (I asked directly many times) they were removed from the sanctuary, leaving only the overhead screen for viewing the Scriptures if one hadn't brought a Bible.

Having been without Bibles for use in the sanctuary for several years, the announcement was made last Sunday that the overhead would no longer be used in order to encourage people to bring their Bibles.

Good right?

The announcement continued that for those without a Bible, there would be Bibles available in the vestibule for purchase, at six dollars each.

For those who could not afford one, they are too tell an Elder or Deacon so that one can be made available to them.

Ugh.

One of the problems I'd been bringing up was the reliance upon consultants and our "Purpose Driven" ideology.

After sharing this with one of my seminary professors this morning it hit me like a brick. This is marketing 101!

You create a need (take away the Bibles, creating reliance upon the overhead, then take that away) then you fill the need (offer Bibles for sale) and you've got a built-in clientele.

I'd hate even thinking this if I wasn't intimately aware of the fact that this formerly very Gospel-centric church is bleeding money trying to address every social need under the sun.

telecaster55 said...

I too am concerned with the "business-ness" of ministry these days. But let me add another perspective.

I've been to a great number of concerts by Christian artists over the years, some via tickets purchased in advance and some via the "free-will offering." I've been in situations more than once where the so-called "free-will" offering has been pushed and pushed hard with such a heavy hand of guilt, that it loses all sense of trusting God and instead becomes a mechanism of manipulation. At one concert in particular, my wife and I attended with a group from our church during a time when I was jobless and we really could have used an encouraging word. At the intermission, the host church pastor laid it on so thick, and made it very public ("hold your offering up in the air while we pray to bless it"), to the point that my wife and I were ashamed and almost in tears. Had we not come with a group, we'd have walked out. Even if I'd been able to give, I would still have been uncomfortable with this manipulation.

It's times like these that cause me to prefer to pay a modest ticket price up front and be done with it.