New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Saturday, July 20 2002 Volume 02 : Number 124
[NTCP] Kierkegaard
[NTCP] Supporting elders financially

Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2002 13:53:29 -0400
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: [NTCP] Kierkegaard

Hi saints of God.

Can any one else offer insights into existentialism or Christian
existentialism? Atheists and saints both admire and quote S. Kierkegaard.

One house church website (house church central) claims him as the father of the
house church movement.

Truth is, he desired ordination in the state church. Truth is, great confusion and atheism have been ushered in via existentialism, affecting multidtudes.

Does the house church movement really need an earthly "father" anyway? I doubt it.


David Anderson


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Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 00:06:03 -0400
From: "Linkh * bigfoot" <Linkh * worldnet.att>
Subject: [NTCP] Supporting elders financially

Should apostles work secular jobs to support themselves? Are they allowed
to?

Something to keep in mind when considering the issue of paying local church
leaders is that many passages used on the subject are actually referring to
people in the apostolic ministry, who were actively involved in evangeilsm.
We have to look at the duties and responsibilies of these offices
separately. Paul was an apostle. He went around with others preaching and
planting new works. He would come back and appoint elders in these churches
to oversee the churches. There was a local overseer role,a dn an apostle
role. These are different roles.

We don't know from the Bible whether Paul ever made a tent before he was an
apostle, but we know PAUL worked to support himself after becoming an
apostle!!!

How do we know Paul's occupation was making tents? The Bible clearly says
show, and shows us that Paul worked for a living while in Corinth:

Acts 18:1-4
1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;
2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from
Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all
Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.
3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought:
for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews
and the Greeks.
This took place during what is called the Second Missionary Journey. Paul
and Barnabas had already planted the South Galatian churches, gone their
separate ways, and Paul went on travelling to different cities in Asia Minor
and Greece. In verse three we see that Paul 'wrought' tends with Aquila and
Priscilla, and preached in the synagogue every sabbath-his venue for
evangelizing others.

Paul addresses the issue of not receiving payment from the Corinthians in
both first and second Corinthians. In I Corinthians, Paul alludes to the
fact that he (and Barnabas as well) had worked to support themsleves. We
know from Acts that the 'secular work' Paul had done in Corinth was making
tents.

1 Corinthians 9:5-6
5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other
apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

Paul had a right to not do 'secular work' and be supported, be he did it
anyway. He had a right to demand payment from churches that weren't
voluntarily paying up. But Paul waived that right. We see this from a
careful study of I Corinthians 9. Let us look a few more key verses on this
issue:

1 Corinthians 9:5-6
5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other
apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

1 Corinthians 9:14-18
14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should
live of the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these
things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die,
than that any man should make my glorying void.
16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for
necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my
will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may
make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the
gospel.

In verse 14 'preach the Gospel' refers to anouncing the Good News. Paul and
those with him were going into new areas proclaiming the Gospel. Their work
involve brining the good news to unbelievers. Some think that 'preach'
means 'talk loud behind a pulpit.' Keep in mind that the context is dealing
with people doing evangelistic proclamation of the Gospel.

In verses 15 through 18, we see that Paul waivd his right to receive payment
for preaching the Gospel, at least among the Corinthians.

II Corinthians shows us that Paul did receive gifts at times, but had
determined to preach for free in Corinth.

2 Corinthians 11:8-10
8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man:
for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia
supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto
you, and so will I keep myself.
10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting
in the regions of Achaia.

Verse 8 implies that it was the duty of the church community where Paul was
ministering to support him. Paul was not preaching in Macedonia, but yet he
received support from them. He, speaking figuratively no doubt, says that
he 'robbed' other churches to minister in Corinth. Paul may have decided to
keep a 'clean record' of not receiving support in Corinth because of the
problems with false apostles and those among the Corinthians who spoke ill
of him. If he did not receive payment from the Corinthian church, they
could not accuse him for preaching for money.

Let us read the next two verses in the passage:

2 Corinthians 11:11-12
11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.
12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them
which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as
we.

By not accepting money from the Corinthians, the Corinthians had evidence
that Paul's character was superior to that of the false apostles.

Paul commended the Philipians (a city in Macedonia) for their giving in his
epistle to them. Paul was not opposed to taking funds. In Corinth, he had
lived off of a combination of working to suppot himself, and gifts from
other churches.

Paul may also have been supported by his co-workers labors. While Paul was
making tents in Corinth, two of his coworkers came, and he started preaching
the Gospel intensely.

Acts 18:3-5
3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought:
for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews
and the Greeks.
And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in
the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

Could it be that Paul was more free to preach because Silas and Timothy
helped support him by working with their own hands? This seems likely,
considering that Paul, Silas and Timothy worked with their own hands to
support themselves in Thessalonika.

I Thesalonians was written by Paul, Silas and Timothy.

1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of
the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus
Christ.

These men worked to support themselves in Thesolonika as they did in
Corinth.

I Thessalonians 2:9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for
labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you,
we preached unto you the gospel of God.

In verse 9, we see that this apostolic team had to work day and night,
because they didn't want to live off of the Thessalonian church. Whatever
work they did to support themselves, we know that they did work outside of
the church, and stayed busy night and day between their ministry work and
their work to support themselves.

Jesus' Commands to the Twelve

Jesus did instruct the Twelve to live off of the hospitality of people in
the cities and towns in which they were ministering. The apostles were not
to even take any gold or silver with them. However, these instructions seem
to have been given for a specific mission.

Matthew 10:5-14
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into
the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils:
freely ye have received, freely give.
9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet
staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is
worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
12 And when ye come into an house, salute it.
13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be
not worthy, let your peace return to you.
14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart
out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
These commands were given to the apostles before they went on a mission to
preach to 'the lost tribes of the house of Israel.' They were not ot go to
the Gentiles. Paul was not sent out on this particular mission,. He
ministered to Jews and Gentiles.

In Jewish culture, hospitality was seen as a serious obligation. Abraham
showed great humility and slaughtered the fatted calf-the most special food-
for the three visitors. (Genesis 18.) Lot even offerred to give his
virgin daughters to a mob to protect his guests. (Genesis 19.)

Jesus instructed the Twelve to 'drop in' on worthy men in the villages or
towns they went to, and receive hospitality from them. The apostles needs
were completely provided for. (Luke 22:35.) Paul travelled outside of
Israel, and though he did receive hospitality at times, he did not follow
the instructions Jesus gave specifically for the journey of the Twelve, or
the similar instructions for the Seventy. If Paul had just dropped into the
home of a Gentile unfamiliar with Jewish customs of hosptiality, he might
not have been welcome.

Paul's Example for Elders

The book of Acts shows us Paul's speech to the Ephesian elders when he was
preparing to depart and never return. In this speech, Paul shared some
important information about finances and ministry.

Acts 20:33-35
33 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.
34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my
necessities, and to them that were with me.
35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support
the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is
more blessed to give than to receive.

Paul worked to support himself. He didn't desire money from other people.
He labored with his own hands, and supported himself and the other preachers
with him, and he also supported the weak.

We see in verse 35 that Paul wanted the elders to follow his own example of
working to support himself. Paul quoted a saying of Jesus, only found here
in Scripture, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Let us consider
this statement. If Paul had completely lived off of preaching the Gospel,
he would be in a financial position of receiving, rather than of giving.
Since he worked and gave, and ministered on top of that, he was a giver,
rather than a receiver.

Paul encouraged the elders to be givers as well. The elders he is
addressing were the overseers [bishops] charged with pastoring the flock of
God. We see this earlier in the chapter:

Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over
the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God,
which he hath purchased with his own blood.

[The word 'feed' is a translation of a form of the Greek 'poimaino' the
Greek verb form that means to sheep-tend, or 'to pastor.' 'Overseers' is a
form of the word 'episkopos,' translated as 'bishops' in other passages.]

These men were the local pastoral leadership of the church, the elders, or
bishops, of the church. Yet Paul left wanted them to follow his example of
self-support.

Elders Forbidden to Minister from a Money Motivation

The following verses show us that elders of the church are not to be greedy.

I Timothy 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre;
but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not
selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to
filthy lucre;

Peter shows us clearly that elders are not to minister because of money paid
to them.

I Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight
thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a
ready mind;

What does this say about a hired pastor who refuses to take a job due to the
low salary? Many pastors negotiate out their salaries, as if they were
going to work for a regular 'secular job.' What do these verses say about
the pastor who leaves because he finds a better-paying church?

Consider Jesus' statements about the hireling.

John 10:11-13
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep
are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the
wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the
sheep.

Hirelings just work for the money, and not because they love the sheep. The
current pastoral system helps promote the hireling mentality. Pastors can
negotiate salaries. They can quit their jobs, and sometimes be fired by
their congregations.

This is quite a contrast between the way churches choose modern pastors and
the way the apostles chose the elders to pastor churches in the first
century.

Nowadays, pastors are often men from the outside of the church congregation.
Some are be sent by the denomination, or else be interviewed and hired by a
local church. The pastor may 'try out' by preaching at the new church. He
becomes the pastor without even knowing the people.

But the apostles appointed elders from within the churches. (Acts 14:23,
Titus 1:5.) The elders were already a part of the congregation. Some of
them may have already been teaching and nurturing the saints before being
appointed as bishops.

'Elder' means older man. The elders appointed to the work of overseer had
to be able to support themselves before they became elders, anyway. How
could someone be blameless and rule his house well if he did not have
experience workign and supporting his family. (I Timothy 3:2,5 ) Surely, no
lazy freeloader would meet this criteria.

Are Elders Worthy of Financial Support

The Bible is clear thatt elders are not to pastor because they want the
money. But does that mean that it is wrong to pay elders? Of course not.

Paul left the elders an example of working with his own hands. But let us
consider Paul's example. Paul had a right to receive payment for preaching
the Gospel, yet he would at times deny himself this right, to further the
cause of the kingdom, and work to support his own ministry.

The Bible also refers to compensating elders for their work. Let us
consider what the Bible has to say.

I Timothy 5:17-18
17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour,
especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out
the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Earlier in this passage, Paul talks about honouring widows that are widows
indeed. 'Honour' doesn't necessarily refer to pay, but it can. Verse 18
uses two Old Testament quotes that are used in the New Testament to talk
about an apostles right to receive payment.

Paul used 'Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the
corn" in I Corinthians 9:9, as a part of his argument that they that preach
the Gospel should live of the Gospel. Jesus also said that the ;labourer is
worhty of his hire when instructing the Seventy to receive hospitality on
their preaching journey. (Luke 10:7.)

Notice in I Timothy 5:17 that Paul says that elders that rule _well _ are
worthy of double honor. What do the elders that rule poorly deserve?
Single honour?

Maybe double honor refers to twice the compensation given to widows. Widows
in Jerusalem probably received payment in the form of a daily portion of
food. (Acts 6:1.) The Seventy, of whom Jesus said that a laborer is worthy
of his hire, were not to carry gold on their journey. They were compensated
in the form of food and lodgings, not cash. In some areas, honouring an
elder could take the form of bringing him vegetables, clothing for his
family, or trodding down his rice paddy.

Consider the modern system of giving a pastor a salary. If a board sets a
pastors salary at a certain amount for a year, and he rules well, he
receives the same salary as if he ruled poorly. Doesn't this passage teach
that elders should be compensated in accordance with how well they do their
work?

Honouring Those that Labor

The Bible clearly shows us that those who labor in the ministry of the word
may have the option of working to support themselives. Yet, today, some
Christians look down on the bi-vocational church leader as if he were not a
'real preacher.'

I remember one time in Jakarta when I went to a meeting where an evangelist
from the United States wouldbe ministering. This brother had been living
off of gifts to his ministry in Indonesia. Then, when the economic crisis
hit, his financial situation caused him to return to America to take a job
doing work with computers. His employers allowed him to work ten months out
of the year, and have four months off. He would spend the four months
travelling and doing missions work. After he had found this job, he
returned to Jakarta, and there I sat in a meeting before he began to
minister.

I overheard some people in the meeting talking about this brother. One of
them sounded shocked that a preacher would actually return to 'secular work
'-as if it were unholy for a preaching to earn a living any other way than
preaching.

Isn't it ironic that preachers who work outside of their ministry can be
looked down on for doing so? We should honor such men. Paul worked as a
tent-maker to support himself. He was going the extra mile, sacrificing his
right to receive payment, to further the cause of the Gospel. We should
salute such men as this, not look down on them.

And another thing that is ironic is that men who are full-time receive a
little bit of extra honor from some Christians simply because they earn
their living from the faith. The Bible teaches that elders that rule well
are worthy of double honor. We are to honor and pay them in proportion to
how well they do. We are not to honor them more just because they get paid
more.

The Twelve apostles lived off of what the saints provided for them. Paul
refers to this in I Corinthians 9:4-6. Some ministers of the Gospel may go
for decades being supported from their ministries, without having to work
secular jobs. If this is what God blesses them with, then they need to be
thankful for His blessings.

On the frontiers of the Gospel, where the Gospel had not yet been preached,
Paul could not expect to find hundreds of people wanting to contribut to his
ministry. Often, modern missionaries in difficult areas that are new to the
Gospel cannot expect to live off of contributions from people in that area.
Many missionaries in this situation do secular work to support their
ministries. W e should honor such men. William Carey is known as the father
of the missions movement. He worked as a shoemaker,on an Indigo plantation,
and as a professor in a college. God greatly used him.

Some today think of missionaries who work on the side to support themselves
as somehow less than true missionaries. Apparently, such people have
stopped to really consider the fact that Paul, one of the greatest
missionaries in history, made tents to support himself.

Conclusion

Those who 'preach the Gospel,' to the unreached, such as the apostles in the
Bible, have a right to make a living from preaching the Gospel. (I
Corinthians 9:14.) Travelling apostles have a right to live from their
preaching. Compensation may take the form of hospitality, food, and
shelter. (Luke 10:8, Matthew 10:10-13.) A church receiving an apostle has
the obligation to support him, though an apostle may receive gifts from
other sources as well. (II Corinthains 11:8-9.) Apostles certainly may
waive their right to financial support. (I Corinthians 9:15, I
Thessalonians 2:9.)

Elders are worthy of support as well, in proportion to their work (I Timothy
5:17-18.) However, an elder should not minister because he receives
payment. He should be willing, if necessary to work for free. If he is
not, what does that say about his motives? (I Peter 5:2.) Paul left his
own example of self-support to the elders of Ephesus, encouraging them to
follow his example. (Acts 20:34-35.) Being bi-vocational, or at least
knowing a trade is something very practical for elders who have to support
their own families.

A few Christians feel strongly that elders are not to be paid. The Bible
doesn't forbid elders receiving money, though it does forbid them from
serving because they will receive money. Anyone in the body of Christ is
free to give to another. If a believer, no matter what ministry he functions
in, is free to receive gifts from other believers. As long as he does not
get money by cajoling or manipulating others, or sin in some other way,
there is nothign wrong with his receiving a gift. If a believer wants to
give a financial gift to a teacher who does not labor in evangelism, and is
not an elder of the church, he should feel free to do so (Galatians 6:6.)
Those who have should be willing to share with those in need.

The Bible doesn't tell all of the occupations of the apostles before they
were called. But we do get enough details in the Gospels of the apostles we
know about to see that Jesus chose certain apostles who were out working and
making a living before he called them. Peter, Andrew, John, and James were
fishermen. Judas was a tax collector, and if Matthew was a tax collector.
(Matthew 9:9.)

Later, Paul made tents. Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy, are also called
'apostles' in scripture. (Acts 14:4, 14; I Thessalonians 1:1, 2:6) These
men also worked to support themselves (I Corinthians 9:6, I Thesalonians
2:9.) Elders, as men who were blameless and able to rule their houses well
would certainly have had to been able to provide for their own families. (I
Timothy 3:2,4-5.)

Ministers who have experience working and earning a living outside of the
church are better able to understand the people they minister to. It is
good for ministers of the Gospel to have a trade to be able to support
themselves if the need arises.

Laborers in the Gospel should be willing to work to support themselves.
Believers in a congregation should be willing to support these laborors so
that they do not have to support themselves. If laborers have are willing
to work for free, the Gospel can spread much more easily. And if the saints
are willing to contribute to those who spread the Gospel and to local church
elders, this will lessen their burden as well.
Copywrite 2002 Paul Lincoln Hudson, Jr. If you want to use this article
,email me at <Link * world-missions>

 


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