Dave Black is one of my favourite bloggers who isn’t a blogger. He makes some great points about tent making ministry and often links to posts about the issue of pastors / elders being paid by the church to do so. His latest link takes us to the 5 Sola’s website which has an interesting look at the Biblical account of paying pastors. Within any talk about the role of pastor’s, it’s important to note there is some debate about whether the Ephesians 5 fold ministry gift is Pastors and Teachers, or is it actually the one gift to the church with no distinction made between Pastor and Teacher. There is strong evidence to suggest the latter is the best understanding.
I cautiously agree that our modern practice of paying our pastors has little NT support.And I whole heartedly agree with the idea of more pastors entering ministry within the framework of being self supportive, acknowledging the Biblical witness to such ministry. However, its also worth noting in this discussion that there is little or no support support for many of our current church practices – such as the establishment of Bible colleges and the paying of teachers within. Nor is there any foundation for students to be paying for the costs involved in the training processes of becoming a pastor / teacher…which often can add up to large sums.
It would be simplistic and naive to suggest that we put an end to any kind of college environment. And it would be simplistic and naive to suggest that the pastor /teachers within should be self supportive in their teaching roles – though perhaps it could be argued that there is a Biblical mandate for such to happen. The truth is that our modern church operates within many varied and different contextual environments than what it did within the New Testament era. These contextual differences must cause us to to engage deeply with the Scriptures so that we can truly know how to exegete and apply Scriptural truth for today; without miss representing the deep truths of the past.
Within this framework I acknowledge there is no easy answers. By all means raise up, equip and release ministries that are self supporting. And within this framework of releasing, this should be the aim of every member within the congregation to be equipped and released to minister within their own context. And indeed our pastors should do some serious navel gazing as to the amount they are paid and if they are living within a Godly life – or a life of greed. But within this context – so should every one within our congregations be doing likewise. And within the context of our modern church environment – if the context allows, then by all means we should accept that it is right and proper to pay our pastor / teachers – for the context of our Christian environment calls for it.
Let the discussion continue…..