Paid Ministry

I'm going to take tomorrow morning off and write my post tonight. I hope that doesn't mess up anyone's routine.

Okay. I know you're waiting in anticipation for the Structural Manifesto, but it's not ready. So you have to pop a few more of those pills. Go back to sleep and wake up when life is finally worth waking up to.

One of the weird things about blogging is putting my thoughts into the permanent record. Those who have known me over a lengthy period of time know I am willing to change my mind. Now, I haven't changed my mind on being a church that meets in a house in the last 4 years, but I have on many other things. That is why I'm waiting on the Structural Manifesto. I don't know if I want to be held to what I'm writing yet.

I do have a few thoughts racing through my head. These are mainly due to Shannon's replies. Driving home from the evil empire, Walmart, tonight I was trying to come up with a scenario where it would be more effective for a church as a whole to pay a minister. I must also have Lindsay brainwashed because she couldn't think of anything else either. I honestly could only come up with two. One of them really isn't being done effectively by paid ministers now and I figured a way out of the other.

I'll start with the latter. Funerals. They are something that cannot be planned. They happen on the spur of the moment. The way out would be to train two retired people, or inviduals who have flexible work schedules, to do funerals. The only problem would be if they both died in the same week.

The other is counseling. I was taught in my ministries classes to send people on to professional counselors if they didn't get over their problems in 2-3 sessions. Pastors aren't trained adequately in counseling. Unfortunately, some try to act like they are. Also, I'm sure some are. I actually think it would be interesting for a church ti hire a counselor rather than a preaching minister. They could provide free counseling to anyone in the community who needed it. I had hoped this would be the first paid minister of the overarching house church ministry of Solomon's Porch. I don't know how it would work out.

So far the only people I hear in support of paid ministry are paid ministers. I'm getting over fifty unique hits a day, so I know there are many people reading this. Is there anyone out there who isn't a paid minister who believes in the paid ministry? If so, what are your reasons? I'm glad those in the paid ministry believe in what they are doing. I would have absolutely no respect for them if they didn't.

What ministries does a paid minister do that couldn't be taken up by an active congregation? Now, I'm not proposing one man that isn't paid take on all the roles the paid minister fills. I'm proposing that all of the necessary roles be divided up amongst those that are gifted in certain areas. It actually seems more sensical. Rather than expecting one person to be a super-Christian with every necessary gift needed to be a succesful paid minister, we would find people's gifts and give them appropriate ministries. I do not believe super-Christians exist.

I also am hearing that ministry wouldn't be as effective without a paid minister. Assuming the congregation has been trained to fill essential ministries and know how to train others to do the same, I do not see where there would be an effectiveness lag. Is it impossible to have a trained church? If that is the case, I would say that it is even more impossible to have one individual trained to do things that a church collectively cannot do.

A "successful" minister seems to be one that is gifted in rhetoric. If he can give great sermons and fill the church on Sundays, he is doing a great job. If a minister preaches adequately, he will always have his job. If a minister can't give entertaining sermons on Sunday, he will, more than likely, not be held in high esteem by the congregation. A great sermon can cover a multitude of sins. As a matter of fact, a minister's spiritual life seems secondary to whether he is good at speaking from the pulpit. We have made preaching the central role of being a paid minister.

What is the ministry that is worth paying for? It seems to me that it is preaching. Our church has decided to not pay a minister, but we are going to continue paying those who preach. We aren't going to pay those who are going to step up and do the calling on the sick or troubled. We aren't going to pay those who head up meetings. We're going to pay those who preach. It seems rather ridiculous to me. But it does prove that we exalt preaching. If you believe in the paid ministry, what are the specific ministries that we are paying to have done?

I want to rehash Alexander Campbell's quote from an earlier post.

"To employ men to prach the gospel to a Christian congregation is a satire upon that congregation that employs them."

I did not intend to rip on preaching when I started writing tonight. I think great preaching has a role. However, I do not think the pulpit should be monopolized by one man. It is dangerous to give that much power and glory to a single individual. I also think we exalt the role it plays a little too much. We can listen to sermons regularly and still not be Christian or effective Christians.

I couldn't more strongly recommend reading Going to the Roots by Christian Smith. It is the book in the link to the right. I read another chapter tonight on decentralizing leadership in the church and was awestruck. It is tremendous. If you plan on buying it, use the link to the right. I want to see if I can earn any money on this Amazon advertising. But if you just want to borrow my copy, I am more than willing to let you borrow mine when I finish. I know it's crazy to recommend a book before finishing it, but the first three chapters are worth it in themselves.

I also wanted to say thanks for visiting my blog. I really do appreciate everyone that comes here, even the people that come and read and don't reply. Even though I don't know who you are, your visits are an encouragement to continue on. I don't know where my blog will head next. I really never know what I'm going to write about. But thanks for sticking with me to this point. I guess if you have anything I think I should study or something that is on your mind, I could do requests.

I would be content and continue on if I only received 10 hits a day. Many people don't want to talk about religious issues and that is all I seem to want to talk about. I miss the discussions we had in college and am thankful for the friendships I am developing through this blog and in real life where I can discuss the thoughts that are on my heart. It is only throught harsh discussion that the truth is ever attained.

Watch out for the potholes.