rustypants speaks

youth pastor. husband. idiot. why should you care? it's beyond me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

paid ministry dilemma and discussion continues

following my rant on God saving me from his followers, i've received a good amount of email, IM's and phone calls about the issue of church, God's people, and my situation, among other things.

one of the IM's i got was from an old friend, greg teselle. he wrote a plea for all paid ministers to resign a couple months ago and i think it's worth taking a look at.

i'll take his argument a step further, in fact.

long before the fiasco at my previous church occurred, i had been struggling with the concept of paid ministry.


1. the church gets cheapened by becoming not only your "brothers and sisters" but also your "employer" - where does the line get drawn?
2. what is the standard by which ministers are then held?
a. attendance?
b. how the leadership perceives your ministry is going?
c. whether you use _________ (fill in the blank) enough times in your sermon each week
d. how many people are "saved" each year/quarter/month/week
e. number of baptisms?
f. how much is in the collection plate each week?
g. make up your own here
3. what happens when life takes a turn and the minister is unable to minister as he had before? when the minister needs ministering, will the church cut and run?
4. the pressure of pleasing the select group that must be pandered to (leadership? deacons? elders? the founding family of the church? the biggest contributor?) means that you've already knocked out the Holy Spirit's guidance. (this is NOT an indictment on all churches or my saying that all churches i've worked with or attended have been run this way)

in essence: church becomes a business. it becomes less about the grace of God and becomes more about a set of man-made standards that are arbitrarily made and/or followed.

this isn't always true, and i freely admit that there are a large number of churches out there that are doing fantastic ministry without petty squabbles, money-related issues, factions engaged in behind-the-scenes wrangling, ministers with wrong motives, etc.

but i wonder: if paid ministers quit, what would happen? would the church suddenly take notice that they had a responsibility that goes beyond warming pews and dropping a dollar in the plate on Sunday mornings? would the sheep stand up and lead? and would the goats scatter?

what's my experience in this area? i was the volunteer youth minister at a couple churches over the course of 10 years. over the last 4-5 years, i've been on staff as the paid youth minister. i've seen both sides and frankly, i can't imagine going into paid ministry again. my vision as of the summer of 2005 was to go to grad school, get my master's degree in special ed, quit as the paid youth minister and continue as the youth minister in a volunteer capacity.

so: is there a solution?

i think the model greg is trying with his church, shale harbor, is a good start. root around a little bit and look at what they're doing.

check out this article from last Sunday's washington post talking about alternate forms of worship pursued by folks who are tired/burned out on the traditional church model.

read george barna's book, "Revolution: Burned Out On Church? Finding vibrant faith beyond the walls of the sanctuary." i'm part way through it now, and as barna is probably the biggest statistics dude out there in evangelical america, he's got a lot to say on shifting perceptions in the traditional church business.

i'm encouraged by the things i see happening.

but i'm still shopping for a good jockstrap.


  • At 7:06 PM, Blogger Lawrence said…

    Dude! Jockstrap might be the funniest word in the English language! I laugh my testicles off each time I hear it. I think I need a jockstrap. Uh oh... there they go again.

  • At 7:52 PM, Blogger Rustypants said…

    larry, i'm thinking that maybe you need to grab hold of them every time you think the word "jockstrap" is going to be used in a sentence or conversation! this way you cut down on re-attachment time, etc.

  • At 10:22 PM, Blogger Bluecanary said…

    I understand. I've been in ministry for 7 years, 5 paid. The volunteer time was my favorite as far as ministry, because I was able to do whatever I wanted, and it was welcome. I don't like being the point person.

    I'm glad you made the transition. My plan is to get my masters in ministry, than go for a masters in education so I can teach full time so that I can church plant.

    Paul was onto something when he didn't take money and worked. It freed him up to make comments about people needing to castrate themselves. It's hard to fire him for that when there is no money on the line.

    My heart is in ministry and I will always want to do that. Even when I was working fast food and substitute teaching, I loved being in ministry. School teaching is a ministry.


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