Church Business

February 22, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Posted in Christianity | 2 Comments
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The other day on my “safe for the whole family” radio station, I was listening to the ~Christian~ hosts talk about children, youth, and young adult ministries. I will preface all of this with the fact that I find it really hard to listen to much “Christian” radio anymore. The topics of discussion seem to have no real value and the music isn’t much better. There is no theological discussion, as you’re about to see. Instead, it seems like it’s just a bunch of church-going people who are trying to be “relevant” and sound like the world so that they will gain unbelieving listeners. Then, they can sneak the name of Jesus in on them (which they always seem to forget to do…) and maybe make a false convert.

Anyway, I was listening to this morning talk show and they were talking about how the focus of youth ministries seems to be children and high school kids. They talked about how it seems like you get forgotten once you reach 18 and are just tossed in with the adults. They even mentioned a statistic that said that by the time kids reach 18, 65% of them leave the church. That’s a scary statistic. It’s even scarier when you realize that it’s actually higher than that. By the time kids reach middle school, 40% are tired of church and don’t believe in Christ. By the time high school is over, the number jumps to 80% (See the book Already Gone by Ken Ham to find out why they’re leaving…you’ll be shocked).

While I could tolerate the talk about this, it isn’t what got me mad. It was what came next. The main host of the morning show talked about how he was a youth pastor. He said that when he had his ministry, the pastor for 18-35 year olds was the last position filled in the youth ministry. His reasoning was this. If you get the kids to come, their parents will end up coming. The kids can’t pay for anything, but the parents can. The 18-35 year olds are not giving/paying as much as the older adults and therefore the church can’t afford to pay the staff position needed to minister to them.

Maybe this incensed me because I’ve just finished a 12 week study on the spiritual gifts and I understand why they are given. I don’t think so though. I think that it made me mad because this type of thinking is the exact opposite of what scripture says! When did the church become a business? Today, it seems that the pastor is no longer a shepherd, he’s a CEO. If it’s not the pastor, it’s the “Committee”. The “leaders” are now management. The focus of the church has shifted from sound preaching and salvation to relevancy and bigger flocks. It is no longer about making disciples (regardless of what the latest flyer for the new “Bible study” says); it’s about the bottom line. The bigger the flock is, the more money that is coming in. The more money you have coming in, the more extravagant the church functions and events and the higher that the CEO and management can get paid.  I may have missed my point in all my ranting so here it is. When did serving in a ministry become a paid position? Whether you’re a pastor or a floor sweeper, when did it become a paid thing?

The spiritual gifts that we have were given to us for two purposes: to edify the church and glorify God. I was under the impression that this should be enough motivation for a Christian. So, when did money become a part of it? When did the church decide that those with certain spiritual gifts should be paid for something that God gave them to glorify Him? We have paid music ministers, paid everything. Why? Some of the highest paid individuals in America are “preachers”. Some prosperity preachers make millions of dollars a year! Why? They have million dollar mansions, private jets, and extremely expensive cars. Why? Their answer would be because the scriptures say that they can. And they’d be right, if you take into account the fact that they violently ripped the scriptures from their context and twisted them to form some convoluted mockery of the truth. There is no place in scripture that guarantees that we will be rich – nowhere. There are, however, many places that talk about how we shouldn’t be chasing after money and how loving money is idolatry. There are scriptures that talk about how the love of money is the root of all evil. It seems like offering money for the use of a spiritual gift would draw the wrong kind of people to begin with.

So why does the church pay people for serving God? If I have been given the gift of prophecy and I rightly understand how I got it, why I have it, and what I should be doing with it; will I really accept money for using it? I don’t think so. Using what God has given me to glorify Him is worth more than any amount of money. Does that mean that the church can’t help someone out by paying them to clean or serve? No. If the church can help with a burden for a little while, that’s one thing. What I don’t understand and what aggravates me is the idea that Christians are getting paid exorbitant amounts of money for something that should be above money and profit.  Listening to some of these “pastors” I can’t help but wonder what they do all week…

Not only that, but it’s only certain “positions” that get offered money. The Bible warns us about esteeming one gift over another.  When is the last time you heard of a church paying its janitor a million dollars a year? I didn’t think so. Is the pastor supposed to get paid? I don’t know…Paul made tents to support himself. Is that no longer possible for today’s pastors? I guess I just can’t fathom why someone who has been saved from their sins (which is so amazing to begin with!) and been given at least one spiritual gift for the edification of the church and glorification of God would accept money for that position or why the church would offer it in the first place? Do we need paid music ministers? I guess what I’m asking is this: Is there any justification for paying a church position a salary and should money be a motivation for someone to use their spiritual gift? Should the church set aside money in its budget to pay for positions of leadership? Or, should those positions go to someone who is not only gifted but understanding of the burden and responsibility? Would there be quite as many pastors, youth ministers, or others if their positions weren’t paid? If the money all of a sudden stopped coming in for paying that position, would they still preach, teach, and lead music? I wonder…

I’m not against a church helping its pastor out. I do think that the pastor wouldn’t be near as burdened if the church actually understood the spiritual gifts and started operating in all of them. If people actually were maturing in the faith and growing up, I don’t think the pastor would be so bothered all the time with trivial, petty issues that have no bearing on the truth. I think that they wouldn’t be getting stressed or burned out either. If men and women who call themselves Christians actually started acting like Christians instead of whining about how hard it is to follow Christ, maybe things would be different. If pastors were spending their time preaching the truth of hell, sin, and judgment along with mercy, grace, faith, and love; maybe things would be different. If they stopped trying to replace the gospel with a crude, insubstantial shadow of worldly thinking; maybe things would be different. If they stopped trying to chase the world (they’re always about 10 years behind the curve) so they can seem relevant; and instead actually spoke directly and boldly to the souls of men; maybe things would be different. More people would have a spiritual backbone. More people would know how to read and apply scripture with sound hermeneutics so their lives were stable even in the toughest of times. More people would be worried about the lost dying and going to hell instead of fighting over whether or not the carpet is the right color or who should be giving more. More people would be living out the Christian faith in the midst of the world and the world would stop mocking and take notice.

It’s a vicious cycle though isn’t it? The pastor stops preaching the truth (if he ever was to begin with) because preaching a watered down “gospel” brings in more people, which brings in more money. This starts the slippery slope that has its end in delusion and deception. The people that this type of message draws in are not the ones that will do the work of the gospel. Oh, don’t get me wrong. They will do good deeds and heal physical and financial wounds, but they won’t heal spiritual ones. They won’t be evidence of the gospel soundly and rightly preached. So, they lure more hurting and down trodden sinners into their doors. These unwary people have no idea that they’re being taken for a ride. They come looking for something that the world cannot offer them. And, for awhile, things are great. The package is all shiny, they have met wonderfully caring people, and they’ve heard about a loving God who will wrap His loving arms around them and not let them go. Eventually, the shine wears off and the downtrodden realize that they’ve been fed a pack of lies, a cheap imitation of what the world already gave them. So they leave the “church” and hold their grudge (and who can blame them?) against any who name the name of Christ.

Like it or not, this is what is happening in America. There are more churches per square mile in this country than in any other nation in the world. And yet, this country has become one of the fastest growing mission fields for other nations – nations where Christianity is thriving in underground house churches. Why is that? It’s simple really. Go to any number of churches on any given Sunday and you will hear a “sermon” that uses verses of scripture and gives an “uplifting, heartfelt message”. It gives the listeners a “spiritual buzz” and placates their consciences, allowing them to “make it through the week”. Unfortunately so many have become so numb to what biblical preaching should sound like that they don’t realize that the few scriptures peppered in the “message” were taken way out of context and have no bearing on the subject of the sermon. They blindly follow the “truth” they heard, not for a moment thinking that they may have heard something other than God’s truth, and forsaking the example given to them by the Bereans. And why should they? The man that speaks to them from the stage calls himself a pastor. No one would stand up there and do what he does if he weren’t really a pastor, would he?

Of course they would! Especially when they’ve been shown that there is huge money in it! (Look at the number of prosperity preachers both here and in places like Africa…) This goes back to the whole point of the blog. When the church is run like a business, the bottom line is money. That’s the bottom line of a business. For a business to run, it’s got to have money. It has to pay its staff, put on big, extravagant events, and appeal to the world. Then, those caught in its web will come in to find out if the business has what they want. If it does, then they become patrons of the business and spend their money there. Many churches are acting the same way. They pay their staff, put on extravagant events, and preach a message that appeals to the world. This “outreach” brings the customers to church on Sunday and Wednesday where they can pay for their needs to be met. On the other hand, a biblical church is full of Christians who are willing to serve because that is what they’re command to do. There is no pulling teeth necessary to find volunteers for different ministries. They give what they can to truly preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost to bring the knowledge of sin and alert them to the dangers of God’s wrath and an eternity in hell. The love that Christians in this true church have manifests itself in rejoice when others get good news (instead of being jealous), truly bearing one another’s burdens  (instead of “I’ll pray for you…”), and a striving to look the way the New Testament describes the bride of Christ.

Does this mean that this biblical Christian church is perfect? Nope. Does it mean that everyone is on their best all the time? Nope. What it does mean is that those instances are not the norm, they are the exception. The love of God supersedes any imagined slight and relationships between believers are honest, deep, and lasting.

Should pastors get paid to be full time? I don’t know. If your church does pay its pastor is that wrong? I can’t really see scripture that would be openly against it, but I would caution those who do it. If the decision is made to pay the pastor, it should be after much prayer and shouldn’t be more than is necessary. Should other ministry positions be paid? I definitely don’t think so. I really don’t see the need for a Christian to be paid for using something that God has given them to glorify Him. Should the church be run as a business? Again, definitely not. Instead, it should be seen for what it is – a part of the body of Christ. Therefore, it should be supplying that which the whole body needs. If it’s not, then something is wrong. Should the pastor or “committee” be the CEO of a church? Nope. The church has one head and that’s Christ.

I’ve gone back and forth about paying pastors…but only pastors. I’m not talking about senior pastors and assistant pastors and youth pastors, etc…I’m talking about just the pastor.

While this may seem like an insignificant thing in today’s day and time, it isn’t. The church has allowed itself to get caught up in worldly ideas and methods instead of following the commandments of Christ. Because of this, it has become harder and harder to differentiate between the nonbelievers and the false converts. There still should be no problem in identifying a true Christian though…

Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

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  1. I know this post is a few months old, but I came across it and find myself in agreement with what you have said. As a believer in a ‘modern’ pentecostal church that is part of one of the large ‘movements’ in Australia, I find more and more that the language and practice of the corporate world is coming to dominate churches everywhere, and the ‘feel-good’ motivational speech is taking the place of solid biblical teaching and preaching. My wife and I were talking about just today.

    The question of how we deal with what we know is clearly unbiblical practices is something we’re wrestling with for ourselves. Easy option – leave. Well, we continue to pray and ask the Lord to show us what we should – or should not – do.

    Keep the faith.

    • Thanks for taking the time to read my blog Ronfire. I may be a little aggressive when it comes to the church and wanting it to be more like it should, but I truly believe that it’s one of the most important things we can focus on aside from preaching the true gospel. We are to look, act, think, and speak differently than the world. The church is not a business, it’s a body. Without Christ, it is a dead body. The bottom line for businesses is money. The bottom line for the church is to glorify God by preaching the gospel so that souls will be saved. This is what’s important.

      While God may still use you in the church you are in, He did not call us to fix broken churches. If the church that you’re in is doing something unbiblical, you should talk with the pastor and express your concerns. If the church continues in their practices, then I don’t think that you are doing something wrong by leaving. Of course, the best way to know for sure is to pray and seek God through the Word. Scripture is the best guide you could ever have! 🙂

      God Bless!


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