Not paying a minister

Another evening post.

I cannot believe that I am in the other room typing a post to this blog when the opening ceremonies are on. What a waste of an evening.

Anyway, I know we're probably all getting sick of this subject. I seem to do that to a subject. My wife read this line and said, "It's so true. You really know how to kill a thing, beat it to death."

Shannon in the replies to my other post had this statement to say, "As far as $30-$50 grand being a waste, of course that is a judgement call that would vary greatly. Frankly, I think the church would do much better if it started thinking of stewardship in terms of how much can we spend rather than how much can we save. Think the servants with the talents. Our master has deep pockets. My observations tell me that more churches from being tight wads than from being too liberal. Of course, all things need moderation."

I want to make sure that I am expressing myself properly. I think the best way to clarify my stance is to flip the situation around. Imagine we are in a church that doesn't have a building expense or salaries. All we use our money for is loving acts to those in our church who have needs and to those outside of the church that we see have needs. So if all of our money is given to loving people, are we going then be able to justify the expense of a minister? Do we want to take away from loving people in order to have our church ran more "efficiently?" One is a direct way to love others. Another is indirect.

It reminds me of my conversation that I had with the man who invited me to his house church. The one that I asked a bunch of questions to. I think Heather was right in saying that maybe I should've just brought these up in casual conversation. But I asked the questions because I had heard through the grape vine that they didn't take an offering and just let it up to the church members to give at the individual level. I wanted to be able to give him time to think about his answers rather than just coming up with them off the cuff. I am terrified of individual offerings. I am even terrified of special designated offerings in the church setting. I'll talk about that more some time in the future.

After a lengthy conversation and being told that my questions were "worldly," we got to question #10.

"10. What is the long-term plans of your church? Do you plan on getting large, buying a building, and paying a minister or do you plan on starting another house church when your size reaches a point where those expenses become almost a necessity? Why do you plan on doing things that way?

The reason I bring this up is because of their answer. And their answer is also one of the reasons I asked such questions. I don't want to get stuck in a church where they are headed in a direction that I feel God is not calling my family to. I've been in many churches that are not seeking God's will in their long-term planning and don't want to be caught in one again.

He told me that the head guy (I don't know if they call him minister) has been looking at a renting or buying a building in the community. They want to be visible in the community somehow. They feel they are failing in that area. I explained that they don't need a building to be visible in the community; they need to start taking offering as a church and use that money corporately to love those in the community. This way they would be able to reach the goal they want by doing something God wants them to do rather than falling into the building trap that will just eat up more of their time and money. In the long run they might grow as a church with a building, but that won't make them be what all churches all called to be, more loving.

Just do what God has called you to do and it isn't complicated. Church is simple. I believe we make it complex when we bring in insititions and traditions that just get in the way of being what God really wants us to be together. Simple church will change the world if we shake of our dusty traditions and tear down our rusty institutions.

If they were growing and looking for a place to meet that would fit them, that would be another discussion. I would still have my reasons against that. But I can't talk about everything in one post. I'll run out of stuff in the future.

One thing we are called to do - be a loving church meeting people's needs. We see commands calling us to that lifestyle all throughout the New Testament.

Other things we feel like we have to do in order to be legit churches - hire ministers and build building. I'm at a loss to find these anywhere in the New Testament. As a matter of fact, the early Christians didn't meet in buildings until Constantine made Christianity the legal religion of Rome in the 300s. 300 years of church health and not one building to be found in archeaology. As a matter of fact the church buildings that they have found were in houses. I think that is very interesting. However, just because the early did something a certain way does not mean we have to do it that way. We need to always examine the principles behind what they did and do church in such a way that we exhibit those principles.

If having a paid minister or a building helps us to be more loving, then we should use God's money on them. No questions asked. However, I don't see how a building and a minister helps us to be more loving in our current cultural setting.

Watch out for the potholes.