Saturday, March 31, 2007

Professional Ministry (1)

A correspondent asked me about the role of professional ministers in a house church setting. This question raises many important issues. My attempt to answer is contained in the following couple of posts.

Our house church does not have a paid pastor. There is simply not enough work to keep one busy as the people look after each other. I can conceive of situations where a house church might support someone in full-time ministry. A church with several new Christians with deep needs might need someone working full time to help them get free. An evangelist working in a challenging situation might need to be supported so they could work full-time. However, house churches generally do not need professional leadership, because the members will care for each other and the meetings are led by the Holy Spirit with all members contributing.

Many years ago, I felt that I was called to be “preach the word” and I spent six years employed as a full-time minister/pastor. However, when I did further study of the New Testament, I found that this ministry of preaching to Christians does not exist, but is a leftover from an Old Testament theology. I realized that my calling was different from what I had thought. I was called more to speak prophetically to the church and the world, but I did not need to be a professional minister in the church to fulfil that calling, so I resigned from my position as a full-time minister.

Some people are able to establish a model of financial support for my type of ministry by selling tapes and books, or getting on the conference circuit and that is good if you can do it.

I have chosen to work as an economist. That has had many benefits for me. It provides financial support for my family. It allows me to produce statistics that expose the dishonesty and disobedience of the government. It also means that I am involved in the real world, rubbing shoulders with people who do not care about God or the church, with people dealing with broken marriages or gay marriages, with people trying to buy a home for their families. I now have a much better understanding and empathy for real life and real people than I did when I most of my work contact was with “church people”. I still see myself as being involved in full-time ministry (service) to the Lord.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For me, Profesional clergy is a value that clashes with Simple Church. But at the same time that does not stop part timers such as St Paul for example. Though to be paid one would need to be five fold really as there is not enough 'work' to justify pay in a house church, as you said your self. Enjoy your blog and your book!