Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                           January 26, 2009
You Are What You Charge For
My Reflections
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When I stepped away from my role as senior pastor I also stepped away from a paycheck. Even today, I'm still picking up the pieces as the cost of making my way down a road less traveled has been an expensive one. And I'm not alone; perhaps you, too, have paid dearly to follow our Lord.
As I continue to work things out I'm reminded that Jesus didn't die on a cross for me to earn a paycheck. Still, many well-meaning folks say to me, "But Trav, doesn't the Bible say that "elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching"? Yes, it does, but any honest exegesis of 1 Timothy 5:17 doesn't allow for the industry Christian 'ministry' has become.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: Should I get paid to minister?
You Are What You Charge For
Excerpt from The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine & James Gilmore


John Drane excerpts Pine & Gilmore in his book After McDonaldization. Although I've long left business 'practices' by the wayside when it comes to practices of the church, this business 'observation' has proved insightful. Drane suggests that although the church should be in the transformation 'business', by in large the church is not; most expressions are either in the service or experience 'business' (2008:103).

You really are what you charge for...If you charge for stuff, then you are in the commodity business. If you charge for tangible things, then you are in the goods business. If you charge for the activities you execute, then you are in the service business. If you charge for the time customers spend with you, then you are in the experience business. If you charge for the demonstrated outcome the customer achieves, then and only then are you in the transformation business (1999:194).
My Reflections
At the time of the Reformation, one of Martin Luther's biggest beefs with the Catholic Church was the selling of indulgences. If you're unfamiliar with the term, an indulgence is "a remission of the temporal punishment due to sin" (Catholic Encyclopedia). Here's my 'English' version: trying to buy, in any form, favor with God.
Now, hold that thought for a moment while I reflect on a recent conversation. A friend of mine just came back from a short-term overseas missions trip. Reflecting on the experience he stated, "The government over there is completely corrupt. No elections. Public offices are bought." To which I replied, "And you don't think they're bought here?" He got my point; sometimes things are just sanitized.
Okay, now back to indulgences. When it comes to getting paid (or supported, of one prefers the PC version) I must ask myself, what's really going on here? Are others paying/supporting me, even inadvertently, for some type of experience or service? Said another way, given what 'indulgences' might look like given a consumerist culture, are people, in effect, purchasing what I bring to the table? My teaching? My preaching? My conference? My intercessory prayer? My wise counsel?
Now to the question: should we get paid for ministry? The answer is yes and in precisely the same manner/spirit Jesus and the Apostles did. Although space won't allow for a thorough explanation, here are a few descriptive (as opposed to prescriptive) observations: Jesus and/or the Apostles (1) were not 'paid' much, (2) were not supported in any regular manner, (3) were more concerned about the poor and widows than they were their paychecks, (4) often supported themselves via a trade, and (5) often faced difficulties as a result of their humble circumstances (sometimes because they didn't want to be a burden to the church).
For those of you who have refused to sell 'indulgences', I humbly applaud you. For the rest of us (as I've sold plenty), my prayer is that we'd have the courage to do what is right, learning to rely anew on a God who promised to never leave or forsake us.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table