Saturday, April 17, 2010

Best of the week entry 3

Dave Black posted an excellent essay on Paul's work ethic as described Thessalonians. It is simply excellent. This is a great example of what you will find in this post:

To all who would follow Him, Jesus gave the same basic message. We must willingly accept inconvenience, suffering, and uncertainty. No genuine follower of Jesus can put comfort, family ties, or security ahead of His kingdom. Jesus never apologized for calling His disciples to a life of sacrifice. Throughout the New Testament you will find that those who followed Jesus often paid a very high price, even with their lives. One such person is the apostle Paul. He sought to serve Jesus and it cost him everything. Not only did he give up all the privileges of his Jewish upbringing, but he surrendered his rights as a Christian apostle to be supported in his church planting ministry. The Bible says that he willingly worked with his own hands night and day so as not to be a financial burden to other Christians. Paul exemplifies what true Christian ministry is. It is a positive sacrifice for the good of others. His life is an example of the proper attitude a servant of Jesus Christ should have today. His teaching about self-support mocks our convenience store Christianity.

I love that phrase: "convenience store Christianity". Dr. Black hits the nail on the head when he points out that we as New Testament believers too often turn to the Old Testament for our models of ministry.

It strikes me as odd that so many people appeal to Paul to support the paying of ministers when Paul himself by word and example supported himself and did so in a hostile climate unlike anything that we would experience in the West. Paul didn't see preaching as something to do in place of a job but as something he was privileged to do in addition to working to support himself and others. I can't imagine that Paul would be pleased by a "full-time" 30 year-old, able-bodied man who derived his financial support for himself and his family by the offerings of widows and the poor.

These are some of the very best thoughts I have read on self-supporting ministry. Check out this wonderful and challenging essay from Dr. Black, The Thessalonian Road to Self-Support.

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1 comment:

Tim A said...

A very passioned plea from one who lives this. He should add "The Corinthian Road to Self-Support" with a layout of 1 Cor. 9 where Paul brings in the Freedom and the Reward of serving for free. He could also do a full lay out of Acts 20 with the "Ephesian Elders Road to Self-Support". The phrase from 1 Cor. 9 that gets me is when Paul says he would rather die than not be able to boast that he ministered for free. A full book needs to be written on the huge tragedy of Hired Clergy Driven Church - Corruption at the Hands of Professionalized Pastorate.