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Pastors and Money

In Series, Tough Questions by Antwuan Malone41 Comments

[box] Pastors and Money is a part 1 of the series Pastors – A Blog Series. Stay tuned for more conversation about Pastors on Honor, Expectations, and Leadership. Enjoy! [/box]

Pastors and Money

Career or Calling

 

It boils down to this: Is being a pastor a career or a calling?

Everyone’s got an opinion about pastors and money. Some feel no pastor should have to depend on God’s church for their livelihood. That, live everyone else, they need to work for what they eat.  For others, scriptures like 1 Timothy 5:17-18,  which says that pastors are worthy of their “reward” (in KJV) or “wage” (in the New American Standard).

So which is it?

I’ll admit, I’ve argued on both sides of this fence.

Last December, I heard God’s call to a ministry. One of the challenges answering that call is negotiating the tension between ministry and finances. Where’s the line?

On one hesitant and uncomfortable hand, ministry looked like any other job. Go to school. Get the degree. Do the interview. I don’t like viewing it that way, but that seems to be the way of things. I don’t like the idea of the church “employing” me as it pertains to ministry — an employment that could end at any moment (like any career). What would happened when funding fell through, or worse, I was fired? Would that force me to find a “job” somewhere else? And if so, where’s would God be in that? Would I be following God’s  lead or simply trying to survive? Besides, how do you negotiate finances in a ministry job interview? That’s got to be tricky!

Yet on the other hand, God’s call should be all I need to step out with Abraham-like faith. He gave the call, so He’d take care of the rest, right? And if he used the church to do that, then so be it.

Back and forth I go.

I do know this. Being a pastor is a full time commitment. To continue to use myself as an example, the call to serve twenty-somethings and college-aged students in my community cannot be done effectively in the margins. I’m trying, but I need time to connect to individuals, time to lay out lesson plans, and to follow up on service projects. I need to be available for those who are in spiritual need, to network with other churches, universities, and organizations, and to engage in face-to-face meetings and introductions to new people and opportunities. I could go on and on. (seriously)

I can’t do those things and work full time, and effectively nurture a family.

So what happens? I continue to work (because we need money), and I push God’s work to the margins… often to the detriment of family. Or vice versa. And I feel horrible about it in the process.

So which is it? Should I feel bad about being paid to serve, or should I continue to shortchange God’s work with marginal effort, which will lead to frustration and a half-executed vision (assuming burnout doesn’t happen before any portion of the vision is even realized.)

I’m not the only one with this question I’m sure.

 

Proper preparation for God’s word, learning how to best identify the needs of the church and the unchurched, and researching, praying and hearing from God on how to address those needs are all time consuming tasks.
Too Much or Not Enough

Money is one of ministry’s greatest obstacles. There’s either too much, or not enough.

The often polarizing issue of pastors and pay is usually a product of off-base perceptions of the church. People who have problems with full-time, staffed pastors, most likely see the church as a profit organization that competes for your dollar over the church down the road.

Unfortunately, they aren’t too far off. Many churches operate like corporations, with budget goals of gaining membership, in order to get money, to build bigger stuff, and gain more membership and get more stuff… etc. I’ve written about how keeping/collecting money is often priority over finding ways to give money away for the good of God’s people and the community. It’s only reasonable to expect cynicism about profit when your budget model is designed to profit. If churches change the way it deals with money, it would go a long way toward changing the perception of “career” pastors.

Often times, the amount of work God has for his leaders goes unseen, and often unaccounted for. People only see Sunday and assume Pastor has laid in bed most of the week, with maybe a few hours of study here and there. And heaven forbid he drive a nice car, or go on vacation to the islands. But we talk more about that in next week’s Pastors and Expectations post.

Pastors have their part to play here as well. While being an effective pastor is a full time commitment, they must also guard against the temptations that come with the territory — namely greed, pride, and slothfulness. There is always work to be done, always ways God is speaking and moving in the lives of a congregation. No sooner a pastor slows down to start indulging himself in the Me-Monster-Machine that has become “church”, the Enemy attacks. Besides, true caring for people starts with being available in their darkest hours (which could be any time of the day or night). Even full time ministers have issues with being there for all members, but that only serves my point. People need pastors.

So work on Sunday Morning is probably the smallest percentage of their weekly efforts. Proper preparation for God’s word, learning how to best identify the needs of the church and the unchurched, and researching, praying and hearing from God on how to address those needs are all time consuming tasks — to big for any margin. Part-time pastoring leaves much to be desired. It can be (and often is) done, but the ministry often suffers (or even the minister).

There is biblical precedence both for a man of God being cared for by a body of believers (the high priests, Timothy for example), and for a man of God making it on his own without such provision (like many of the prophets, Paul, John the Baptist, even Jesus). The result really is that there is no cookie cutter solution.

Follow God’s lead and He’ll figure out (probably has figured out) the rest. Even with the money. We have to be careful with telling God how he will take care of his own. He has shown that he can ordain either scenario.

 

Do You Think Pastors Should Be Paid? Would you call pastoring a vocation or a calling?

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Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry (elevateministry.net) where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.
39 comments
@timmcgeary
@timmcgeary

In reality, the Western church is a broken system. My answer to your question is neither. Churches are overly dependent on pastors, and thus not acting as churches should act collectively, and leaders of churches should neither be a calling or vocation, but a collective partnership. I noticed a comment about how one church tithe's over 10% to missions, and that really, really saddens me. It should be the reverse: 90% should go out back into the community, the region, the world. I've heard that 50% personnel & overhead indicates a church of financial health. Really? When half of the money church congregations goes only paid staff and pastors, and another 40% goes to internal programs only benefitting the congregation, that seems awfully self-focused (maybe even selfish), creates a business-like financial entity rather than a community-focused (or non-profit focused) organization of people investing in the world around us. These types of things are pushing me further and further away from wanting to invest in a formal church structure.

@BishopTBuss
@BishopTBuss

One of the problems that we face in the modern church is that we are conducting our affairs in a way which is quite different from what the apostles taught. What they really taught was a concept called supported service. If as a Christian worker you needed money to be able to do what you did then you should get it. What we have today here in the modern church is leadership as employee. In the early church when you elected the elders for your group, you were giving them the power to have leadership authority over you. You were not simply a consumer of sermons and church services. The fact that most early churches had several elders leading the church allowed them to be able to work a regular job and still be able to render good service to the church. Everybody pitched in and things got done. The one thing that these elders understood was that they were putting their life on the line for the members of their church, and that serving in that capacity may well lead to their deaths as was so common during the earliest periods of the church. Of course today, any church member can stir up trouble because, after all, the pastor is their employee. If he plans on preaching the unvarnished truth he will certainly run into significant problems because few of his people will be spiritually mature enough to accept it. It might shock you to know that in a recent survey 50% of pastors expressed that if there was another way for them to make a living that they would get out of the pastorate because of the extraordinary aggravation they have in dealing with problem members as well as the extraordinary demands of their time and energy by their church at large. Unfortunately, many of the true precepts of Christianity have to be buried so that a pastor can stay popular enough to keep his job. Concepts such as: Christianity is not about you, it never has been about you and it never will be about you. It is God's job to dispense the rights that we can handle, other than that we have no rights of our own before God, except to believe in and commit to his son Jesus. Today so-called Christians go shopping for just the right church. When you ask them why they have left their other church they will come up with a flimsy excuse such as “ I just wasn't being fed." Of course, my answer to that would be that I was sorry that they were not being fed, I guess their church ran out of highchairs and helpers to feed you the baby food. As we know, when we commit to Christ we are committing to a life of sacrifice and service. Most people in church claiming Christianity are really and truly not prepared to go all the way in that regard. From my lifetime of experience in various churches I find that most church members are more poser than saint. I have noticed that my Internet radio show, Breakthrough, (www.blogtalkradio.com/cotacf) fluctuates wildly in listenership based on how pointed the lessons that I share with them are. You will find that going to work for a church can be rather unsatisfying occupation. Myself, when I started my own church in a large apartment and held services in the front and lived out of the back and was willing to accept and even encouraged the poor, as well drug addicts, alcoholics and the seriously mentally ill to come and join me and by loving them all as if they were my own family produced a church environment that was stunningly less problematic. What I receive in return was, overall, great love, respect and appreciation.

ms toni alexander
ms toni alexander

oh young blood , you have hit a nerve , While I grew up in church most of my life there so many that just choose this as a career choice for the money the fame the reverence, very scary, I'd love to know your take on tithes?

Trev Williams
Trev Williams

I think its an excellent question. I think it would be necessary for a Pastor to be paid. I just recently had a situation were I was a youth pastor at a church and we had a full time pastor. We has a guess facilitator. Come and speak to the leadership and said that the first person that he hired full time was a youth pastor. But we continued to hire musical directors. I felt like, not because I was in that position but that for someone to do it successfully they would need to be able to put forth a full time effort.

Steve Manatt
Steve Manatt

Good article and like the fact that you tackle the "tough" subjects head on. On problem I have with paid pastors (not arguing for or against at this point) is that they tend to see themselves as the spiritual "professionals" that can sit and dictate how we should feel and clean up our lives to meet their standard of godliness. I know some very humble pastors, who are in it to serve, not to be served, but they typically get scorned by their "corporate" bretheren for not pulling their weight 8-5 because they are out of the office. We need more humility and contentment and less posturing to keep their job. God dictates your job, not an elder board...

TAB News
TAB News

I agree the church can become to corporate. Good article, keep these coming! Seriously, we need more spirit filled writers like this.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

Agree whole heartedly... at the very least, a church should tithe. And yes, it's quite a task balancing family, calling, and career. I really don't think it can be done well.

reconcilingviewpoints
reconcilingviewpoints

I also think it's healthy for a church to tithe as well as receive the tithe. Our pastor pointed out that principle from the pulpit awhile ago -- our church gives well over 10% of what comes in to support missions/missionaries across a broad spectrum. I can also totally relate to the tension you're feeling about needing to work and wanting to be in ministry at the same time. I've been involved in leading worship, teaching small groups, children's ministry, etc. for over 25 years, and I've always felt the tension of ministry and work pulling in opposite directions. In fact, you mentioned ministry suffering... the same thing can happen on the work side as well. There have been seasons were I've been totally frustrated because I don't think I'm putting in my best effort in either place because I'm being stretched too thin. I was left off the "fast track" at work because of it actually -- in a salaried position where workaholism leads to financial gain, I got left behind because I had "one foot in ministry and one foot in the world".

reconcilingviewpoints
reconcilingviewpoints

Good topic and discussion. I do think Pastor's should be paid, but I also think they should be pursuing ministry because it is a calling, not because it's just the career they elected. Our head pastor has pointed out before that he could make a lot more money if he had gone the business route, and I'm sure he's right -- a lot of pastors are talented and charismatic, and if they pursued financial gain in the business world, they would be "successful". I've never been to a church where I thought the pastor was overpaid, but that's probably because I wouldn't go to a church that seemed ostentatious and overly luxurious. I certainly don't think our pastoral staff is overpaid -- they all make enough to support their families, but none of them drive flashy cars or act wealthy. In fact, even though our church operates a private school that goes K-12 and pastors get 1/2 off tuition, not all of them enroll their kids in the school.

cliffymania
cliffymania

Great topic! It's an interesting paradox getting paid to "do the Lord's work". Many want to return the church to its first century roots and I think to do that we have to admit that Paul had a job outside of evangelism in order to cover his expenses. But in our time and culture the discussion, I think, in the end boils down to: why are you a pastor? If you're a pastor for the money, you shouldn't be one. If you think of the pastorate as a calling and a job, that's not unreasonable. A job isn't a bad thing. If people want to pay you to be their pastor that's not necessarily a bad thing. It becomes a bad thing when start to market ourselves instead of preaching the gospel. What I mean is this: how does the pastor react when, say, division occurs in the church and many people leave? Do they immediately start focusing on "We need to get more people in here?" And is he saying that because he feels his job is on the line? Or does the pastor focus on preaching the gospel, as he was called to do, and let God handle the finances, etc? My concern lately has been how churches handle the tithe. Which is something I focused on in my blog here: http://findinggodinthebible.com/blog/index.php/20... - give a listen and let me know you're thoughts on that. Thanks.

Terry Austin
Terry Austin

Thanks for these words. I'm working on a message for a seminary chapel service this fall on this very subject - you have been helpful.

@andrayjones
@andrayjones

Love that you're addressing this topic! How does a full-time pastor lead the flock as an "employee". You mention "pastors must resist greed, pride, and slothfulness", but don't they also need to resist the temptation to make people happy? Some pastors might refuse to say the tough things, that may need to be said, in order to keep their job. I feel that pastors should be paid, but it does create an awkward relationship, especially when we use the odd "calling" language. I think we are all "called" to a ministry, yet the literal meaning of vocation is "calling" (this is the only time I have used my high school Latin that my mom said would be sooooo beneficial). Looking forward to more from this series. Hopefully you will address why many churches look for pastors outside their body, though some have gifted ministers within. How about defining the role? Is a pastor a preacher? Is that biblical? I am in the same position: considering a call, providing for a family, and blogging about what all this means. Antwuan, my man, you need answer these tough questions, so I don't have to. Oh, and show me how I can make my blog look super sweet like yours. Okay, I'm done.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

Honestly, this is where the rub is. The point is that the church can and should take on several different forms, and thus the leaders of these churches might look different from place to place. So Steve, I hear you when you say that every church can't serve everybody (in so many words), and that a church deciding to focus inward on strengthening the congregation, doesn't mean that church is not ordained. In fact, it is this very balance that we as the "Big C" Church must struggle with. The problem I believe comes when we produce too much (as in too many churches) that serves on one side of the equation, and not so many that serve the other. In regards to the money figures you mention, Tim. I happen to believe that "giving away" to the community can come through allowing spiritual leadership to function more fully as "pastors". So I don't have a major issue with compensation. However, I also don't think we should hold those leaders accountable to their callings by the corporate standards of the world (not exactly, anyway). 90% out and 10% in would cause for some really tough ministry... unnecessarily tough. That said, I've written here before about the idea of "profit" in the church (search this site for post titled Capitalism or Community (http://antwuanmalone.com/2011/06/21/the-church-capitalism-or-community/) ) and am working on a stewardship set of posts as well. I hope you're around for that.

Steve Manatt
Steve Manatt

Tim - I think there are various and valid strategies that a local church can devise to accomplish the Great Commission. You've described one, which might be described by meeting the core needs in the community and therefore presenting a reason for your voice to be heard. Just as valid might be a church that focuses on ensuring that the spiritual maturity of the congregation is to a degree that the individuals take personal responsibility to accomplish the Great Commission in their lives. The local church becomes an equipping organization that uses the idea of multiplication. There are many others and not all of them are optimized for seeing the most fruit produced, but that's no different than any other segment of our world. There will always be a varied approach because not all variables are the same in every geography or set of circumstances. I think to generalize in the way you have, is a bit unfair, but I understand your frustration. I wish my church did things differently, but I trust that God is moving in the hearts of our leadership and His Sovereignty is sufficient to see His Kingdom objectives met.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

Hey Bishop... I appreciate you views on the subject. Reading your thoughts really does open up some of the pastor perspective (me not being a Pastor and all). What stuck out most for me, though was the idea that "going to work for a church can be rather unsatisfying occupation". To that I say... wow! I really wish that wasn't true, but I'm afraid it often is. I'd really like to know what it is (outside of the excellent reasons you give in this reply) that makes the service so "unsatisfying." I thank you for what you've added to the conversation and hope to hear more from you. Thank you.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

That's intreresting because I am working on a Stewardship series to post very soon.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

I agree. While I think many pastots and ministers do work and minister, I think the best and most effective ministries do not have leaders who carry the double load. And like I said in the post, add the family raising/leading aspect to it and it really gets dicey. Truth is, pastoring is more than a sermon on Sunday. It's more about what happens away from Sunday. Thanks for the comment. Hope to see you around!

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

Thanks Steve. I agree. Church work is so difficult because there are so many wrongs ways to do it. Thanks for your comment! You're right that we need to listen for God's guidance.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

Thanks Tab... for reading and for your comments!

reconcilingviewpoints
reconcilingviewpoints

The bottom line -- if God is truly calling you to do ministry fulltime, then go for it. If it's not His calling, doors will close until the timing is what HE wants rather than what you want.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

I think the issue of "being called" is interesting altogether. It's funny to me because Paul says in 1Timothy that he who "desires" the office of a bishop. Desire is different than calling... Anyway, you make a good point about how some pastors can do other things and make more money. But at the same time, I don't know that I subscribe to the idea that pastor cannot have luxury (you mentioned he doesn't drive a "flashy" car). But I suppose that's a separate blog post in a sense.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

Thanks cliff. Interesting show you have there. Maybe we can do something together soon. As it turns out, I am going to be doing a Stewardship series after this Pastor's series is done. You should definitely check that out. As for the topic, I happen to think the Bible shows and promotes God's leaders living off offerings and tithes of his people, and also places where God's leaders are on their own in a sense. You're right about marketing... and yet, there is a piece of me that is even okay with the marketing in the right circumstance. Nowadays, the paths to getting God's word out are many... But I agree with you at the core. Motivations is where it all begins...

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

Great! Thanks for reading and for your comments! See you around. :)

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

Thanks Andray, Great questions. I really want to offer my opinions on them over the next few posts in the series (it seems you should tune in to the "Expectations" post in particular). Thanks for the encouraging words, and for the love for the site design. I look forward to conversing with you more! :)

@timmcgeary
@timmcgeary

Anwtuan, the link you posted didn't work, so I couldn't read it, though I am interested in reading it. I don't think 90/10 is unnecessarily tough. As in my reply to Steve's comment, there are organizations doing that, or close to doing that level. At the core, a typical church building is used 2 days a week for Sunday services and generally some mid-week service. It's vacant the other 5 days. Amen for churches that use it for other purposes, and what a financial waste for churches that don't. If I were a member at the church, I would wonder why we are paying for electricity, heating, cooling, water, etc for an predominantly unused building. For these cases, why would they even need a building? Go rent one somewhere. I agree we shouldn't hold pastors to corporate standards, but churches do anyway. Pastors are fired often for not enough growth in membership, financial mis-management, staff mis-management, lack of new internal programs being created, etc. They are are not meant to be CEOs, but that have to play the role anyway. It's a broken system. As I said above, it's not the pastors' fault, it's a systemic issue, and one that comes back to us as members of the Church. We are lazy and do not want to do the work. We are like the Israelites who cried for a king instead of working together within the community framework of elder leadership. God warned them not to insist on a king, and that warning can apply to us in this case, too.

@timmcgeary
@timmcgeary

I appreciate your response, Steve, but I don't think my generalization is unfair. The Great Commission is only a small part of doing the work of the Kingdom of God. Taking care of the poor, the widowed, the isolated, the imprisoned, the children, the sick are also part of this work. And it matters not whether they are "saved" or "unsaved". The parable of the sheep and the goats should carry just as much weight on how churches function as the Great Commission. And what Jesus DID should have even more, and that was touch lives personally and where they needed it most (and most of the time it wasn't an intent of conversion). We complain in this country that the government is too big and shouldn't be paying for programs and such, but we the Church do little to share that burden. If churches were financially compared to other charitable organizations and NGOs, they would lose their non-profit standing. A solid charitable organization has no more that 15% overhead for personnel and internal costs. I won't give to any organization that is more than 15% unless I can see it justified why they need more. A perfect example of this being justified is Blood:Water Mission, who focuses entirely on Africa and building wells and water systems in very, very remote areas. Travel is just hugely expensive to get there and have a partnering presence for any significant amount of time. A perfect example of low overhead is Cross International, an ecumenical organization that serves the poorest of the poor around the world. Their overhead has never been greater that 2.5%!!!! They were one of the first on the ground in Haiti after the earthquake, and they provide sponsoring a child programs that should shame Compassion and World Vision in that 97%+ actually goes to the child. Here at home, our churches should be building and running medical clinics, orphanages, financial relief centers, prison support programs, military family care, community centers for families and kids to find positive things to do rather than run the streets, etc, etc, etc. Instead we building fortresses to shelter ourselves from the outside world, and/or we choose only one day a year to serve the community. This is where our calling should be - everyone's calling, not just pastors and leaders of churches. All of that takes money, and all of that takes people to run it. Churches do not need paid pastors to ensure spiritual maturity. Churches need people who are committed to living out the Kingdom work together, and together they will grow spiritually. Instead we leave all that work to people we pay, and we do 1% or less of the work ourselves. Apostle Paul would wonder if we even read his letters. Apostle John might wonder that, too, if we heeded his warnings to churches in Revelation. The Kingdom is not about us and what we need from a pastor to grow spiritually. The Kingdom is about the world, and how we live out reconciliation and restoration. And if we aren't living it out, heady spiritual growth will mean nothing.

@BishopTBuss
@BishopTBuss

Is that what we need?? Revival not for the unsaved but for Christians??? I think so....

Brooklyn Cravens
Brooklyn Cravens

Desire doesn't necessarily differ from calling, especially when the Christian's desires come from the new heart God gives them via the Holy Spirit. Essentially, I think anyone truly following Jesus would desire what God calls them to do at some point. Especially since he's always faithful and gives us the desires of our heart (Psalm 145:16).

cliffymania
cliffymania

Thank you. The show is a work in progress. I guess I would call it a calling because I don't know what I'm doing, just hoping God uses it to reach people! Doing something together would be great...soon I'm hoping to start interviewing people like yourself. I think you're right that the Bible shows God's leaders living off offerings and providing for themselves. I know pastors who are excellent stewards and those who seem to be giving in to the "temptations of the vocation" as you call it. One thing I see today, that I think is wrapped up in this topic, is what I would call Church, inc. Looking over my previous post I was just touching on this with the "marketing" comment. I know a church that hired a consultant, for $40,000, to help the leadership convince the congregation to get started on a 4.4 million dollar building project. This seemed very odd to me and a waste of the tithe and could potentially be part of that greed you mentioned. Why would a pastor have to hire a consultant to help convince the congregation to put up a building? Shouldn't they pray about it? Shouldn't the pastor go to the congregation and ask them to pray? Shouldn't the leaders and the congregation come to a decision based on prayer, study, and conversation? Instead of marketing and manipulation? And, as you said, marketing isn't a bad thing when used to reach out to people outside the congregation as you mentioned. But using marketing on your own people? That seems over the line.

@timmcgeary
@timmcgeary

Oh that's right, I actually commented on that post. This has truly been a hectic summer. I think there's a both/and possibility on the topic of church finances, but no option is really ideal. My father is a PT music director of a church that has an endowment. This endowment was setup to pay for all of the utilities so the vast majority church offering could go back out into the community and the world. The biggest point is that no matter if there are 3 people attending or 3000 people attending, that part of the budget is covered and the church won't close due to finances. It's an interesting idea, and it takes away the emphasis on putting bodies in the pew and freedom to live out the kingdom of God.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

I think we align in our approach, actually. We see the same problems and are just offering two different solutions. The post is here (click it) http://antwuanmalone.com/2011/06/21/the-church-ca... ... or you can click the search magnifying glass in the top right and put in "capitalism" and you'll see the one. I actually think the church buildings can be more useful than they are, which is why I say 90-10 is tough (especially for small churches). We just need to live up to our billings of "non-profit" and run away from keeping too much money and calling that good stewardship. That's kind of what the other post is about. Let me know what you think of it (here or in the comment section over there).

Steve Manatt
Steve Manatt

Just heard Tim Kimmel speak on the Grace List where he compares the Obedient-based life to the Grace-based life and I thought specifically about this conversation and your comments above. Too often the local church guilts people into doing for God for all the wrong reasons. To quote Kimmel, "One of the worst enemies of grace is working overtime to be good for wrong reasons." Without a heart that is moved by Grace, our actions are meaningless. Abram, Jacob, Moses and even the Israelites had their hearts broken and were transformed by God's Grace to the point of action. Grace isn't just for salvation, it's meant to change us to the person of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission out of an overflow from within. God could use the rocks to declare His Gospel - He doesn't need us, but He chooses to use us in His work because through our obedient impassioned actions the cycle is made complete and our faith is strengthened by His miracles. Please don't get me wrong, I agree that our faith should produce actions. If it doesn't, it's time to examine our faith, not our degree of laziness or distractedness. Be first then do...

@timmcgeary
@timmcgeary

No doubt - one without the other is meaningless, and it all takes work beyond the pulpit, sanctuary, and church walls. I especially agree with your sentiment of working together rather than in competition. Couldn't agree more, brother!

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

Hmmm, I think there is room for both, actually. We have to serve the community, and each other. The challenge of Church is that there is much to do for many people. However, if we could work together (Churches) then I think we can be far more effective than when we are competing. Good Stuff Tim, loving your thoughts and comments!

@timmcgeary
@timmcgeary

I don't mean to be blunt, Steve, but as the late Rich Mullins sang "It's about as useless as a screen door on a submarine; Faith without works, baby, it just ain't happenin' " The approach to change the heart first is a modernistic western ideal that simply fails to bring anything but individualistic and shallow development. But we have thousands of years of OT historical, poetic, and prophetic literature of God's call to action and not starting by addressing the heart. There is no action (or inaction for that matter) that is done outside of what is inside of us. What is inside of us is built by what we do or don't do, not the other way around. God didn't call Abram to think about what he should do. He called Abram to leave his homeland. He didn't bless Jacob because Jacob out-witted him in an apologetic debate, but because he wrestled with God. He didn't call Moses to protest Egypt's leadership because they believed in equal human rights, but called him to challenge Pharoah face-to-face. The Israelites knew, learned, forgot, and learned again that it mattered not what they believed in their heads or hearts, but what they actually did or did not do or did completely wrong. It was all about action, action that demonstrated what was inside them. And the emphasis on action is even stronger in the gospels. It's not where your heart is, there your treasure will be also, but the reverse because who builds their treasure by believing something in their heart? You build a treasure with your hands, what you work for/toward, what is awarded/given to you out of earning it, or a gift. In Jesus' famous parable of the sheep and the goats, the sheep weren't blessed because in their heart they believed they should serve the "least of these" but because they actually did serve even without premeditation it would bring them a blessing, and the goats cursed because they did not act. Believing something means nothing if there is no action to represent that belief. In fact, even the word believe in antiquity really stems from the word to belove such that it's an action outward expression, not an inward philosophical/emotional expression. So again, we don't have anything of this (usually) because we are too lazy to express what we belove, or we belove the wrong things that distract us from whom we should be loving, namely God and others with our whole selves. And the lazy/distracted label applies to me, too.

Steve Manatt
Steve Manatt

We simply differ on the approach to changing the world. In your posts, you describe a "do" attitude that the church should adopt without addressing the heart needed to be able to sustain such an attitude. In my opinion (and that's all it is), where the church is failing is not in it's ability to mobilize service opportunities, but it's ability to challenge it's congregation to an intimate and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. That "heart" growth will produce the action you speak of as a natural overflow of what Christ wants to "do" through us in our world. It sounds like you have that and are now being sensitive to His leading, but that's not where all people are, hence the need for structured and unstructured discipleship programs. I'm not suggesting this is working well either, but the logical organizing body for those activities is the local church.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

that's a great point Brooklyn. You're right, if the Spirit of God is driving our life, he will input the passions and the desires to complete the work that is set out for us. Well said. Thanks for the comment.

@antwuanmalone
@antwuanmalone

Yeah, I am going to go to podcasting eventually, but I just don't have the time to execute all the ideas I have. Keep it up! That's crazy. The church shouldn't need to "sell" an idea to its people. From the outside view, that looks REALLY bad. It really calls one to wonder what the goal really is. Growth or service. (and many will try to mesh the two, but they are not easily meshed, in my opinion.) Just let me know on the show deal. I'm definitely down.

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