New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Monday, July 22 2002 Volume 02 : Number 125
Re: [NTCP] Supporting elders financially
Re: [NTCP] Supporting elders financially
Re: [NTCP] Supporting elders financially
Re[2]: [NTCP] Supporting elders financially
Re: [NTCP] Kierkegaard

Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 09:52:01 EDT
From: DenverWH * aol
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Supporting elders financially
Link,

Thanks for bringing up the issue of financial support. My study has led me=20
to the belief that the house church movement is in danger of overreacting to=
abuses in this area and, as a result, missing the heart of the Lord. I also=
believe that, hermaneutically, Luke 10 and 1 Cor. 9 should be seen as=20
controlling passages. This is an article that I wrote for House2House=20
magazine. See what you think.

John White
Denver, CO.
Financing Apostolic Ministry:=20
A Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9:1-14

A critical element in the development of the house church movement in the=20
United States will be a change in our financial paradigm. In traditional=20
church, money is given by church members to pay for such things as the=20
building, salaries for the church staff, various programs, missions, etc. =20
The house church movement offers an opportunity to reexamine Biblical values=
=20
regarding the use of money for ministry.

Probably the most important single passage dealing with this topic is 1 Cor.=
=20
9:1-18. The following is a commentary on these verses with a view to=20
discerning principles for financing ministry. This article would be best=20
read with your Bible open to the passage under examination. (Note: Gordon=20
Fee's commentary, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, has been particularl=
y=20
helpful in this study.)

9:1-2. Paul: "You are asking if I really am an apostle. I will give you a=
=20
clear answer to your question." "With unexpected vigor Paul suddenly=20
unleashes a torrent of rhetorical questions=E2=80=A6" (Fee, p. 394) These qu=
estions=20
give us a clue as to the context. Some within the Corinthians church were=20
questioning if Paul was really an apostle. His implied answer, "Of course I=20
am!"

9:3-6. Paul: "I have three questions that I will ask you. Your answers=20
will prove that I am truly an apostle." "In a series of cascading questions=
=20
Paul plays variations on a single theme: his right to their material support=
=E2=80=A6
. most likely his failure to take support has been used against him to call=20
his apostolic authenticity into question." (Fee, p. 398-399) Their reasonin=
g=20
may have gone something like this. "Apostles are supported financially. Yo=
u=20
are not receiving financial support from us. Therefore, you are not an=20
apostle." Paul responds by saying, in effect, "Let me review for you the=20
rights of an apostle and ask you (rhetorically) if this doesn't apply to me.=
"

Paul lists three rights of an apostle. The word "right" (exousia) carries=20
the idea of "appropriate authority". That is, these are things that are=20
considered appropriate for an apostle.

1. Verse 4. "Don't we have the right to food and drink?" (v. 4) Implied=20
answer: "Of course we do!"

2. Verse 5. "Don't we have the right to take along a believing wife, even=20
as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? =20
Implied answer: "Of course we do!" (Here we have a revealing glimpse into=20
the actual financial practice of the New Testament church towards apostles.)

3. Verse 6. "Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?" =20
"The implication is that the problem for the Corinthians is not simply that=20
he took no support from them, but that he supported himself in the demeaning=
=20
fashion of working at a trade. What kind of activity is this for one who=20
would be an 'apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ'? Paul's point of course is=20
that he has the right not to (work), even though he rejected it." (Fee, p.=20
404)

9:7-14. Paul: "In order to validate the concept of financial support for a=
p
ostles beyond a shadow of a doubt, I will give you four supporting arguments=
.=20
I want you to be completely convinced about this."

1. Verse 7. Arguments from everyday life. =20

" "Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense?" Implied=20
answer: "No one! And neither should apostles."
" "Who plants a vineyard, and does not eat the fruit of it?" Implied=20
answer: "No one! And neither should apostles."
" "Who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?" Implied=20
answer: "No one! And neither should apostles."

"In everyday life one expects to be sustained by one's labors. So with the=20
apostle. He should expect to be sustained from his 'produce' or 'flock' -=20
the church owes its existence to him." (Fee, p. 405)=20

2. Verses 8 - 12. Argument from Scripture. =20

"What Christians call the Old Testament was considered the Word of God by th=
e=20
Jews of the NT era, so an appeal to its words is an appeal to the authority=20
of God himself." (Fee, p. 406)

"=E2=80=A6when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do=
so in=20
the hope of sharing in the harvest; that is, they should fully expect to=20
share in the material benefits of their labors. Paul thus applies the=20
analogy of the threshing ox to yet another analogy from farming, both of=20
which together make the point that he has the right to their material=20
support." (Fee, p. 408-409)

Note: Verse 11 leads us to a helpful question in deciding whom we should=20
support financially. "Who is sowing or investing spiritually into my life?"=
=20

3. Verse 13. Argument from the example of the temple.

"Both in Jewish and pagan temples the priests who served in making the=20
sacrifices shared in the sacrificial food itself." (Fee, p. 412)

4. Verse 14. Argument from the very words of Jesus.

Paul clinches the argument by referring to the words of Jesus Himself (Lk.=20
10:7, Mt. 10:10). Whereas Jesus spoke this as a proverb, Paul has raised it=
=20
to the level of a command. "This is the way things are to be done regarding=
=20
the financing of apostles."

Comments on tentmaking. Martin Luther once remarked that the church is like=
=20
a drunken horseman. Prop him up on one side and he falls off on the other.=20=
=20
Nowhere is this more true than with church finance. In the traditional=20
church environment, there have been many problems with money. Perhaps the=20
most pervasive is that the concept of salaried church staff has resulted in=20
perpetuating the clergy/laity divide.

As a result of reacting to the abuses, many in the house church movement are=
=20
in danger of "falling off the other side". (This would validate the=20
principle articulated by Jim Rutz: "The pendulum never stops in the=20
middle.") The thinking is that if there are no full time workers and=20
everyone is a tentmaker, we will be kept safe from the development of "house=
=20
church clergy". While this concern is understandable, this solution is both=
=20
contrary to New Testament practice and is potentially a great hindrance to=20
the work of the Kingdom. =20

Tentmaking: the exception to New Testament practice. As we have seen in the=
=20
commentary above, both Jesus and Paul taught that the laborer is worthy of=20
his wages. This teaching was implemented by the early church through the=20
financial support of "the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord=
,=20
and Cephas" (1 Cor. 9:5).

In some situations, it was necessary for the apostles to support themselves=20
through non-ministry work (ie, tentmaking). However, this practice is=20
clearly the exception and not the rule. Paul chose this means of financial=20
support in Corinth (Acts 18:3, 1 Cor. 9:12, 15-18) so as not to be a=20
hindrance to that church. In other words, the Corinthian church was so=20
immature (1 Cor. 3:1-3) that they were unable to fulfill their normal=20
obligation to Paul as the apostle.

However, even in Corinth Paul received at least some of his support from the=
=20
church - just not the church in Corinth. "I robbed other churches, taking w=
ag
es from them to serve you; and when I was present with you and was in need,=20=
I=20
was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia, they=20
fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden=20
to you, and will continue to do so." (2 Cor. 11:8-9)

In Thessalonica, Paul also chose to make an exception to the normal pattern=20
and support himself from non-ministry work. Again, the reason was because o=
f=20
the immaturity of the church. In this case, the Christians were lazy and=20
Paul realized that he needed to show them how to work. "For you yourselves=20
know how you ought to follow our example; because we did not act in an=20
undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying=
=20
for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we=
=20
might not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to=
=20
this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, that you might=20
follow our example." (2 Thes. 3:7-9)=20

The more normal and mature church is modeled by the Philippians. Even after=
=20
Paul had left town, they repeatedly sent him gifts. He points out that this=
=20
is not so much to his benefit (God will supply all his needs) but for their=20
profit. (Phil. 4:15 - 19)

Tentmaking: a potential hindrance to the work of the Kingdom. While there=20
may be occasional situations where tentmaking is necessary because of the=20
immaturity of a particular church, the work of the Kingdom would be greatly=20
restricted if this became the normal practice for apostles. This becomes=20
clear when we understand the farmer's mentality that Jesus displays in Luke=20
10:1-2.

In this passage, Jesus has just sent out 36 apostolic teams of two men each.=
=20
While we might think that was a lot of teams for a fairly small region,=20
Jesus' assessment is that they are only a "few" (v. 2). So few, in fact,=20
that He urges them to "beseech the Lord of the Harvest" to send more.

The Lord's motivation in all of this is the harvest. The harvest is "ripe"!=
=20
The time is now! As every farmer knows, when the harvest is ripe, every=20
available man hour must be freed up to bring that harvest in. Those that=20
have been chosen to be apostles (sent ones) must be released to work from su=
n=20
up to sun down. The idea that the majority of the workers would work all da=
y=20
making tents with only an hour or two at the end of the day to harvest the=20
grain would have been appalling to the farmer. Perhaps there will be=20
extenuating circumstances that will require a few workers to function like=20
this. However, reducing every apostle (church planter) to tentmaking status=
=20
would cripple the harvest workforce. By overreacting to the abuse and going=
=20
to the opposite extreme, the church would play into the strategy of the=20
Enemy.

Adopting the farmer's mentality: IT'S ABOUT THE HARVEST! Releasing=20
thousands of full time apostles (skilled and gifted house church planters) i=
s=20
by far the best strategy for starting a million house churches in the U.S. i=
n=20
this decade. This can be accomplished if millions of believers come to=20
understand the Biblical value of funding these apostolic harvesters. Instea=
d=20
of investing in church buildings, church programs and church staffs,=20
believers will need to see the value of investing in those who are called to=
=20
begin and nurture church planting movements. This thoroughly Biblical=20
concept must be once again understood, taught and practiced by the church.


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 15:30:18 -0400
From: forwarded <forwarded * homechurch>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Supporting elders financially

From: "Dan Shepherd" <shepherd * nclministries>(riginal message
contained entire quote of Link's message.)

Great topic, Link.

I think you've hit on just about every relevant scripture on this topic.
And in truth, I don't think it's 100% clear. Here's the personal rule I
try to apply-> if I've been given a gift from God that can be applied to
earn money, I have a responsibility to use that gift for the Kingdom for
as long as God requires/allows it. If the Lord is calling me into a
minitry area that makes outside work impossible....then I must comit to
God's work. And if that's the case, then God will provide.

Scripture is clear that a worker of the Gospel is worthy of honor and
remuneration. But does that mean that an elder should take said money? If
they need it to live....then yes obviously. I know a "pastor" in an IC
who drives a very expensive car, wears top end suits and lives in a
wealthy neighborhood. Does that mean he is greedy for lucre? Not
necessarily.... but that's just not a lifestyle I could personally accept
living off the Gospel. So my "paying job" pays my bills and supports the
work of ministry...and 100% of money that anyone gives to me from the
work of the Gospel is plowed into the Kingdom. In fact, I prefer that
money not be given to me at all... but directly to those in need.

Dan


------- <><><> -------


Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 22:02:34 -0400
From: "Linkh * bigfoot" <Linkh * worldnet.att>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Supporting elders financially

John White,

That was an excellent article! It seems like most house church articles these days
support the idea of paying apostles who are laboring in the work. My
concern though is that, in regard to paying elders, so many are dead-set
against the idea, for fear of a clergy-laity separation.

Another tendancy I've seen in the writings coming out of a certain
influential house church circle is the downplaying of the role and authority of the
elder, and a lot of emphasis on the role of the apostle. Usually, it seems
like 'apostles' are the ones who teach this.

The passages Jesus and Paul used as evidence that apostles should be
supported, are both used in regard to 'honoring' elders.

Jesus said that the workman was worthy of his hire. He used this in
instructing the apostles to receive hospitality, and to eat what was set
before them. It would seem the 'hire' here is lodgings, food, and drink.
Maybe hosts would provide a clean change of clothes, since the apostles were
not allowed to take any on their journey.

It would seem apostles are entitled to food and shelter in a town as long
as they minister there. I would imagine if an apostle is not actively
involved in his ministry during a period of time, he might not be entitled
to receive payment during that time. Similarly, the elders are worthy of
their hire for doing their work, ruling well, preaching, and teaching.

Paul referred to the fact that the other apostles could take their wives
with them and expect support. (Sounds like a good policy, rather than
apostles travelling without their wives, or the wives joining convents as in
the days of later preachers, like Gregory 'apostle to Armenia' before being
appointed bishop.)

Has your article come out in H2H yet? Could you add a few paragraphs about
house churches overacting in regard to the idea of paying elders if it hasn't, that
is, if you agree? :)
To Dan Shepherd,

I agree with you. I wouldn't feel right living the life of a high roller
off church money. In Indonesia, I did some minsitering in churches from
time to time, and turned down offerings. Here I was, this rich foreignor
from their perspective. I'm not rich here, but there I made more than a lot
of businessmen in high positions in corporations. The payscale is so low
there. Once I did take money, and gave it to the translator who translated
for me. At other times, I just turned down the offering. (Sometimes, not
taking the offering can actually get you invited back. :)

My wife is Indonesian, and she has pointed out that it can make people very
uncomfortable. I thought if I ever went back to Indonesia and ministered
extensively, it would be good to be connected with a Christian non-profit
organization there that helped the poor or supported church planting. That
way, any donations I received, I could receive offerings on behalf of that
organization.

Here in the US, I was invited to speak at a Baptist church to fill in for
the pastor who was having surgery. I tried to get the people ministering to
one another within the framework there. I was unemployed. They gave me
money from time to time while I was ministering there, and I received some
personal gifts. Honestly, I'd feel more comfortable not taking gifts for
such things, but it really does make some people feel uncomfortable when you
reject it. And if you don't need it to live off of, you can give it back
into the kingdom, or receive it on behalf of a 501 C so as not to have tax
responsibility for it. (I think you can do that, anyway.)


------- <><><> -------


Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2002 07:00:52 -0400
From: Richard Wright <wright47 * sc.rr>
Subject: Re[2]: [NTCP] Supporting elders financially

Hello Link,

Sunday, July 21, 2002, 10:02:34 PM, you wrote:

Lbc> John White,

Lbc> That was an excellent article! It seems like most HC articles these days
Lbc> support the idea of paying apostles who are laboring in the work. My
Lbc> concern though is that, in regard to paying elders, so many are dead-set
Lbc> against the idea, for fear of a clergy-laity separation.
I'll admit to being one who believes in erring on the side of caution
when it comes to receiving payment for returning that which was given
to us freely. In addition, people seem to naturally gravitate to the
clerical system, feeling more comfortable with a 'visible' leader than
following an 'invisible' (to our eyes) one, so we should always be
prudent in what we model through our actions.

The question of paid staff seems even more irrelevant in the context
of HC. I mean how many individuals make up most HC's, 10, 15, 20? We
need a hired gun to 'shepherd' four or five families? At what point do
we cease to be an house church and become just another little IC?

I do agree with your examples of being sensitive to peoples customs in
certain situations. Yet even there they should be persistently taught
the NT model.

I seems to me that we all just need to "work with our hands and lead a
quiet and peaceable life".

Dick
Phil.3:12-14 mailto:wright47 * sc.rr


------- <><><> -------


Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2002 10:00:39 -0700 (PDT)
From: Vanessa DiDomenico <van3hijos * yahoo>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Kierkegaard

Why even worry about Kierkegaard (whom I enjoy reading as lot) when we
already have a Bible to read? Why even CARe what anyone else writes? NO
ONE is perfect but God, so the writings of ANY human about God will have
mistakes, unless they were personally inspired by God and we all know that
doesn't happen since the first century.

Vanessa

BTW: I do believe God has inspired actions directly, but even those were
not perfect because they were carried out by humans.
- --- David Anderson <david * housechurch> wrote:
>
> 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.
>
> David Anderson
>

 


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #125 < Previous Digest Next Digest >



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