More on the paid ministry. Part 2.

More than three posts in 24 hours. I hope to not post again until Wednesday, but you never know. When I feel the need to express myself I seem to just sit down here and type away.

This is in response to Brandon Caroland’s reply to my post today. Check it out here.

I would agree that there are churches doing paid ministry in a successful way for the Kingdom. But citing a successful church doesn't mean that it is God's optimal plan. The Kingdom of Israel had a king (not God's optimal plan), but God still used them when they were faithful. This also applies to house church. Just because they are successful doesn't make them right. I am in search for doing church in the right way, the way God intends it to be done for our age. It might be different in different locales. But the principles will always be the same.

Since you brought numbers into the equation, I would argue also that the growth of the house churches is a much higher percentage of growth than even the healthy megachurch you wrote about. They have had phenomenal numeric, and I would say spiritual, growth since their birth. They expect maturity in Christians and because they expect they eventually get it. And they keep growing. And they will as long as they continue to branch off more and more when the sense of community dwindles within the groups.

God is looking for healthy churches with genuine disciples to plug true seekers into. I firmly believe that what Jesus said, “Seek, and you shall find (Matt. 7:7).” Why would he place someone who is seeking him into a church that isn’t filled with people totally committed to Him? The most effective evangelism tool a church can have is to be the church God wants them to be. Evangelism will happen naturally and won’t have to be a program if the church is what God designed it to be. The seekers will be saved.

If someone is genuinely seeking God, they will find him because God is continually seeking them. If someone is not seeking God, he can be comfortable attending most churches in America; however, that does not mean he is a Christian. “Seek, and you shall find.” I live and die by that thought in my relationships with those who don’t know God.

Greg Laurie, the head of a mega-church, wrote in The Upside-Down Church (now replacing the Alan Keyes book in the icons to the right) the following:

"In a recent article entitled 'The Myth of Church Growth,' published in Current Thoughts and Trends, David Dunlap cites some troubling statistics. For example, at the very time megachurches have sprouted across the landscape, the proportion of Americans who claim to be 'born again' has remained a constant 32 percent.

According to Dunlap, growth isn't coming from conversions but from transfers; they account for up to 80 percent of all growth taking place today. He goes on to quote C. Peter Wagner, one of the leading spokesmen for the movement, who admits, 'I don't think there is anything intrinsically wrong wit the church growth principles we've developed...yet somehow they don't seem to work.'

I would suggest that one reason they don't work is that they tend to approach church as if it were a business. but a business-driven response may only make things worse. In the long run, if we train people to be consumers instead of communers, we'll end up with customers instead of disciples. It might fill up an auditorium, but it'll never turn the world upside down for Christ."

Brandon wrote:

"Everything I hear about this house church concept sounds great. Philosophically, Biblically, and in its effectiveness sounds great. But everything I've heard, read, studied makes it sound remarkably like a small group within my church."

Why do we do all of the other stuff if what the kingdom of God is expresses itself in small groups? Why do we waste all of the time and resources that could be used directly furthering the Kingdom? For controlling doctrine? For keeping focused on some unified goal that normal Christians don't need to have? I don’t know any committed Christian that has wayward doctrine or isn’t focused on the things God is focused on. I’m sure there are some out there, but I have no idea where they are. These fictitious Christians that have wrong doctrine and just sit around in their social clubs sound a lot like many churches that have paid ministers. Paid ministry allows for a church to continue to continue operating when they are not being directed by the Holy Spirit. Sound doctrine and being focused on the things of God are natural things that happen when inhabited by the Holy Spirit. I think we really don’t believe that the Holy Spirit will teach and guide believers anymore. Unless there is a newer new covenant, then we are still under the radical covenant Jeremiah wrote was coming.

(Jer 31:31-34 NASB) ""Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, {32} not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. {33} "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. {34} "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.""

I think we believe that paid ministers are closer to God and more adequate to handle doctrinal issues. I think we believe that paid ministers will guide us in the right direction. We have yet to throw away the clergy mentality of the Catholic Church. History has shown us that these beliefs are not always true. They also aren’t always wrong. There are some great paid ministers, but that doesn’t make the system right. If I had a computer that only worked 3-5% of the time, I would junk the thing after having the same results of failures after switching all of the pieces out. When that rate of failure is applied to paid ministers, we say the system is right we just need a new minister. The next minister has the same failures, yet we continue to try to fix the same problems with what might be the source of many of the problems in the first place. A great paid minister can overcome many of the flaws in the system. Let’s be honest. The great paid ministers would be successful in any pursuits they desired to chase after. I want to be in a church that doesn’t depend upon one individual’s greatness, but upon the Spirit inhabiting us all.

(Acts 2:42 NASB) "And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."

Why do we make three of the four elements (fellowship, prayer, apostle's teaching, and breaking of bread) that the early church in Acts practiced optional for believers? "You only have to do these things if you want to be a Christian in a small group. They aren't necessary to have a healthy spiritual life." Nope. Our relationship with God is dependent upon our involvment with a body of believers. There are no lone-ranger Christians. The case to prove fellowship, sharing meals, prayer, and the apostle’s teaching as irrelevant is on the hands of those who don’t practice them as a body.

And I am not proposing getting rid of all paid ministers. I keep getting pigeonholed into saying I am. I propose that we get rid of paid ministry as the default. Just as I propose we get rid of buildings as a default. If people are called to them, then they should do it. But we make it automatic and hire ministers where there is no need that couldn't be filled by an active church. When it is not something scripturally mandated nor pragmatically beneficial (we could disagree on that) then it should be a specific calling that spurs us to do them.

And by the way, every paid minister blogs in a way. They just save their blogging throughout the week to give during the allotted time on Sunday morning. Unless they are using curriculum. As if blogging is inferior.

Now I'm officially a radical.

Watch out for the potholes.