I believe officers of the five-fold ministry should be compensated for their work (1 Timothy 5:18). However there is a scriptural precedent for bi-vocational ministers — the Apostle Paul was a bi-vocational tentmaker and preacher (Acts 18:23).
One of the most abused premises concerning compensation of ministers is that the modern ministry is somehow connected to the Levitical priesthood. Many of us who operate in one or more offices of the five-fold ministry could not qualify as, first of all, precious few of us are able to trace our lineage back to Levi and, second, many would be disqualified under the stipulations of Leviticus 21:17-24.
Under the law, Priests were to wear garments that prevented them from sweating (Ezekiel 44:8). Now I know some anointed men of God that can sweat up a suit! Under the law, many of the suits we wear to preach in would disqualify us!
Under Levitical law, women could not serve in a priestly capacity. This would invalidate the preaching of the Samaritan woman (John 4:39), Mary Magdalene (Matthew 28:7), not to mention contemporary preachers such as Joyce Meyer, Cindy Trimm, and Sheryl Brady, among others.
Also, another frequently abused passage of scripture is Malachi 3:8-10. If tithes are brought into the storehouse (which, by the way, is not required under the New Covenant), there should be meat in the house. The example for this is Genesis 41:47-57. In bad times, the church should be feeding folks. Sadly, though, during this current time of famine, many churches failed to help those in need. Many of the wealthy Pastors did not miss any meals during this time!
Of course, observation of the Levitcal priesthood would render us under the law instead of grace (Galatians 3:21-25) and, if we’re guilty of one part of the law we’re guilty of the whole law (James 2:10). That means when we claim to support the Levitical priesthood, we are guilty under the law when we opt to enjoy bacon with our breakfast or a slab of ribs for dinner! And let’s not even get started on chitlins!
Jesus, who was from the line of Judah, not Levi, is our high priest! And this priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek, who was identified as both a king (which meant he had wealth) and a Priest (which meant he ministered to — or rendered service to — The Lord). Therefore, offerings are appropriate to render honor to, but not necessarily to support, the man of God.
Additionally, I take issue with men who make merchandise of the Word of God. I believe it is appropriate to attain wealth as an author or itinerant speaker. Many pastors and teachers have significant bodies of scholarly work from which they derive substantial income. However, there are Pastors who live opulent lifestyles on the backs of their flocks. I know of one Pastor who has not even published a book who has a private jet. Another prominent Pastor who drives a Bentley who just managed to recently publish ONE book! And, for the record, I do not have a problem with ministers having jets or premium cars — just with the method by which they are obtained.
Also, I have mixed feelings about the sale of sermons to supplement income. I like the model adopted by Andrew Wommack. On his website, you can download any of his messages free-of-charge OR you can purchase a CD/DVD set. But the messages are available to anyone with an internet connection! You can also partner with him via this venue.
In short, I am in complete agreement with financial support of those who preach the Gospel. I just think there should be better stewardship. Better stewardship would go a long way toward restoring trust in the Church and the men and women of God who serve as leaders in it.
© 2014 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)