Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19
This year has been a huge transitional year for our ministry, Christian Unity Ministries. We will always remember 2013 as the year we transitioned from a small, church consultation ministry operated by Blake and a few of his friends in their spare time to a full-fledged, global non-profit organization with a paid staff and active arms operating in churches and denominational entities all over the world. Last year’s budget: approximately $75,000. The 2013 budget: approximately $350,000. That, my friends, is a God-sized transition!
One of the most painful transitions, it seems, is the one going on in me…the transition toward becoming the visionary leader this new organization now requires. And, just to get very specific here for purposes of this post, I am thinking primarily about the transition into becoming a leader in matters of money and fundraising. Anyone who knows me very well at all, knows that I have simply never been very passionate about fundraising. I have long recognized the eternal truth that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. And so, it has always been easier for me to just avoid talking (or thinking) about money rather than having to delve into any theology concerning …
The call hasn’t come in yet this season, but almost every year during the Christmas season I get a panicked phone call from a pastor or other church staff member somewhere in the country whose church has decided that Christmas is the best time to terminate him. I am not sure why that is. I could only speculate about why terminations of ministers happen so often at this time of year. I cannot imagine how much sheer hatred a church would have to muster for their pastor to put him and his family out during the Christmas season…churches behaving badly.
It seems to me that churches sometimes play freely and loosely with their “power” of finances over their pastor. Of course, they will defend themselves, claiming that ultimately it is the only power they have over him. But that claim side-steps the issue. The larger question is whether the activities of God’s church were ever intended to be a function of earthly power at all.
In his blog post yesterday over at Kingdom People, Trevin Wax poses a great question to pastors: “Does getting paid make a difference in how you lead your church?” And this important follow-up question, “Should it?” These are terrific questions for pastors. Frankly, they are questions I ask myself (though I’m not a pastor) from time to time. You know…”If I suddenly became independently wealthy, would I still be doing this?” Maybe you’ve played that game as well.
But I want to ask the question in a slightly different direction. Rather than asking the pastor how it affects his leadership (which is an entirely different blog post…one already well-written by Trevin), I want to ask you, the church members a question: If your pastor did not receive a salary from you, would it change …