Faith In The OC

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

What You've All Been Waiting For.............

.................I've been advertising this blog for a long time. I didn't realize how much I would have to wrestle with it but after some time and a lot of discussion and reading I have the start to an answer. The original question: "should a Pastor be Paid?" So here it is. I have been pondering this question for quite some time and wrestling with it myself. The question it's self was meant to spark interest and create some thinking which I think has been effective especially for me and I think the question has changed. I think the real question is what do we pay a pastor for? Maybe even: What does the word pastor mean? I do not disagree that a good teacher should be paid. What I do disagree with is putting him in an office that makes it hard to do just that. On top of teaching we ask our pastors to be CEOs, hospital visitors, crisis managers, manager of other church staff, etc........... Realistically no one can do all of what is required effectively. Something has to give. It is too much for one man to carry. But as society dictates we put a man in a "pastor" roll and continue to require things that he may not be gifted with. All this because he is being paid and because pastors before him did the same. He then gives, until there is nothing left to give and it starts coming from his blood, his soul and even his very livelihood. This is NOT what God has called us to be. So again the question is not really should a pastor be paid. The question is what should the pastor be paid well as how do we move away from the show and the business and be something that is people and not machine. Because the church is not a building or a pastor or anything other than people and God. "Church" has become a fancy title for all of us meeting to fill all of our senses. We watch and require entertainment. Thus the show. It's all so backwards. Like I stated earlier, God has built us all differently and given us different capabilities so we can work together. It was never meant to be a one man show. Again, it wasn't even meant to be a show.
So back to the pay: I think we have to tear the whole thing apart and really look at what we are doing for money. And what we as a church are paying for as well. Is it a job with money or is it a passion with reward? And a question that any pastor (and for that matter anyone who has made a decision to really follow Christ) must look at some point or another: "What am I good at, What is it that God is calling me to do and what is the cost?" To be a good teacher is a privilege given from God not a right given to people who finish seminary. And I think if we look at it that way then the pay is a gift from God and not something that should be expected. If it were really passion we would do it with or without pay. I do think that a good teacher should be paid so that he can continue teaching. With all of that being said I want to pose the question again: "What is job description we give to our paid pastors? What is it that we require from these men and women?" Here are some things I found churches who are currently looking for pastors want and what they expect:

  • M. Div, Theology, or Biblical Counseling from recognized conservative Christian seminary
  • Three (3) years experience as a fulltime Senior Pastor or 5 years experience as a fulltime Associate Pastor in a 100-member or larger congregation
  • Conduct communion, baptism, weddings, and funerals
  • Effectively lead the church in the five purposes of a Purpose Driven Church
  • Be experienced with and committed to the CLASS 101-401 model
  • Good management and organizational skills

Well these are just some things I found.........I'm not done answering this question. The further I dig (even as I am writing this) the more questions I have. To recap what I feel is important here: I do think a teacher should be paid for teaching. I don't think a teacher should also be a CEO. I don't think "church" should be a business at all. I do think that the real church is YOU. I'd love to hear what you think. You can always email me at or just click the comment button below this post. I encourage you to start on this journey with me. This whole question is a lot more about how church might look if we all started operating in our giftings and lifted up those around us doing the same thing. It's about being the church instead of just going to it. It's about moving instead of sitting in a chair.

That's all for now..............
...................more to come

this journey has only just begun...........................


  • At 2:24 PM, Blogger Kristin said…

    Wow! Some seriously big thoughts. I am totally with you and agree with ya. I will have to spend some time wrestling with it. Thanks for making us think :o)

    I think we tend to match up "jobs" within the Church Body with jobs outside of the Body because it is easy and keeps things from getting messy. But, does that really make sense? Not really, I am begining to think. I totally agree with you that Church is NOT a business and to try to set it up like a fortune 500 is the total wrong way to go about it. So how do we deal with that than? What expectations should we have from a pastor? Should we even have A pastor that leads a church Body alone. I kinda like how SCU is doing it with the elders leading the Body with the lead pastor as a member of the small elder board. I think this takes some huge pressure off the lead pastor from having to be like a CEO and frees him up to focus on teaching and such.

    Anyways.... I will keep thinking baout it.

    Thanks, Stephen.

  • At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Jon said…

    A great conversation. Since the Church is not a's a movement of God through culture...we must necessarily approach it from a spiritual perspective. The Bible must be the final authority on all matters of our faith...and ecclesiology is a matter of our faith. Does the Bible speak authoritatively on the issue of Church leadership and pay? I submit yes.

    For the sake of brevity, the new testament seems to set forth 3 levels of structure within the local church. At the top...or bottom if we understand Jesus' concept of servant leadership...are the elders. The Greek word for elder is interchangeably used throughout the new testament for overseer and bishop. Their job description and office qualifications are clearly laid out in Acts 6 and in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-2:1-15. This office is open to men only and they must be of good reputation and be good managers of their families. Elders are charged with teaching sound doctrine...which means that they must teach doctrine...with the training up of the flock, management, counseling and oversight of the church. They are to lead, teach, discipline, protect and counsel the people of God within the local church. Teaching is a requirement of the office. If a man cannot teach, he cannot hold the office.

    It is clear that the local church is not to be run by one man, but rather by a plurality of elders. There will be however a "First among equals" or "primus-inter-pares". Peter was the first among the disciples...he was the spokesman for the 12...but he was by no means superior to the 12. In holding to the plurality of elders model as laid out in scripture, decisions concerning the local church are prayerfully made by the council of elders (I think that we should avoid the term "board" since that smacks of the corporate model). If the council is at odds, then great pain and effort must be taken to work through the divisive issues. In the event that absolute unity cannot be reached, the chairman of the elder council (Primus-inter-pares) will have the responsibility to decide the action. This is why he is first among equals.

    The bible is clear that elders who teach well should be paid. I would point to 1 Timothy 4:17-18 and Galatians 6:6 as just a few passages that point to this.

    To hold the office of elder within the local church...particularly to be the first among equals is a huge task. In my own case I spend more that 20 solid hours/week studying and praying over the text that I will teach that week. Above that there are counseling appointments, discipling and a multitude of other responsibilities that are connected to the office that I hold. None of them by the way have anything to do with entertainment, production, marketing or anything other than intentional life together with the sheep in my charge. If I was not to be paid for this service, I would not be able to provide for my family. God has made provision for His elders through the tithes of the local body.

    The second office within the local church is that of deacon. Deacons are the ministers of mercy within the local body, and serve under the authority and oversight of the council of elders. I would quote the same basic passages to show the establishment of the office and the qualifications and descriptions of the office within the local church. Deacons are there to minister to the needs of the congregation...disbursing the funds that the elders steward to them within the body and to free the elders to study, teach, pray and lead the church. Although scripturally speaking the office of elder is only open to men, many feel that the office of deacon is open to both men and women who meet the biblical character qualifications. I personally have been on both sides of this issue concerning deacons. Today I would say that the office of deacon, like that of the office of elder is open to men only as a matter of headship within the church. I also find no explicit evidence of any female deacons in the early church...although there is some debate as to whether the Phoebe of Romans 16 was a deacon or the wife of a deacon. I'll let you know as I continue to learn about that.

    The third level within the local church is that of member. When I say member...I don't mean as in membership has it's you might be a member of a social club wherein you get to vote on the direction of the organization. Members within the local church are born again, spirit filled, believers who compose the body of Christ. God places unique gifts and talents within the various members of the body and then places those individuals under the oversight and teaching of particular elder councils so as to build up that local body for the mission of making others glad in Christ. Every believer is a member of the body. God has placed elders in authority to teach and to instruct and to prepare the members for the outreach of the local church. Whether that outreach is event driven or more organic house-to-house is open to the local body. I personally believe that if the elders are teaching sound doctrine and instructing the members as to what God reveals to be true about Himself in Scripture alone that the people will respond in reverent worship beyond the corporate gathering and will share the gospel organically with their neighbors, co-workers and fellow students. Missions exist in the Church because worship doesn't. We have so watered down the clear teachings of Christ in Scripture so as to please men that it's no wonder that nobody but a handful within each local body ever goes out of their way to share the gospel. Who wants to worship a less than sovereign, reactive, less than all knowing God? The gospel is relational in's about God with us...and that truth will always be transforming wherever it is taught and lived out according to scripture.

    So to sum up...should a pastor/elder be paid...absolutely, as long as he meets the character qualities and fulfills the office as laid out in scripture.

    Can all hold the office of bible is clear that God has given the office of pastor/elder/overseer/bishop/teacher to the church as a gift to lead, teach, equip, protect and to discipline His people. Few are gifted and called to do that.

    Deacons are the ministers of mercy within the local church who serve under the supervision of the elders.

    By virtue of God's sovereignty in election, the Holy Spirit in regeneration and the finished work of Christ in redemption, all who truly believe are members of Christ and of each other, and God has bestowed unique gifts, talents and passions within His people to help build up the church...the body of local communities for the mission of God (missio Dei) that being to glorify God and to make others glad in Him forever. God has entrusted this stewardship to a plurality of men within the local body who must be in doctrinal unity with one another so they may lead, guide and direct with consistency, grace and authority.

    If you'd like to investigate this more, I would highly recommend reading..."Biblical Eldership an urgent call to restore biblical church leadership" and "The New Testament Deacon" both by Alexander Strauch. I'd also urge those who are interested in the mega church vs. micro church dialogue to read "Brothers We Are Not Professionals" by John Piper...and to understand the missio Dei "Let the Nations be Glad" also by John Piper.

    Great discussion and worthy of our best efforts to understand and to live out together.

    Soli Deo Gloria! (To God be the glory alone!)


  • At 10:51 PM, Blogger Tony Myles said…

    "So again the question is not really should a pastor be paid. The question is what should the pastor be paid for...."

    That's the real issue, bro. Perhaps the new trend of senior pastor (who doesn't teach) and teaching pastor (who doesn't manage) will spawn the next decade of church growth books and conferences. ;)

  • At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Jon said…

    Well I was hoping that this conversation wouldn't die out just after 3 in an attempt to stir the pot, and in answer to Tony's question...I'd say that a pastor is paid to teach, lead, counsel, oversee, discipline and protect the flock that has been entrusted to him.

    I'd also agree that the leadership model that Tony has put forth...a senior pastor who doesn't teach, and a teaching pastor who doesn't manage... will probably be widely talked about and written about...and that's well and good so long as those who advocate that arrangement aren't concerned with the model that is laid out in Scripture.

    I'd also question the terminology of "senior pastor" as my Bible says that Jesus is the senior pastor of the Church...and everyone who serves in the capacity of elder is subordinate to Him. (1 Peter 5:1-4)

    Church leadership is approached in lots of different ways...but when our models differ from those that are clearly laid out in Scripture...we must assume that we are wrong, repent and humbly submit to the word of God. Virtually every Protestant church affirms the absolute authority of Scripture in all matters of the faith...but when our organizational structures are put to the test of Scripture how well do we measure up?

    Let's keep the dialogue going.



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