Money and the Ministry

From the humble parsonages of colonial America, to the mission school graduates of today, the ministry is, by and large, is not a lucrative profession. Of course, there are the notable exceptions of mega-ministers, who swear their swollen bank accounts come from book sales and speaking engagements, rather than salaries and humble donations. But, the Joel Osteen types aside, most people in full-time ministry live on “ministry support.”

This means they send out letters, blogs, tweets, etc., keeping everyone they know informed about the great work they are doing, and directly or indirectly asking for pledges to support their cause. This is the standard operating procedures for most missions and ministry organizations.

You’ve heard the pitch when the missions organization comes through town. “Don’t worry about the money. We’ll teach you how to do that. It will come in if you’re supposed to go.” What they mean is, that they will teach you how to send out these letters and achieve maximum results. I understand the model, and I don’t know that there is a better one out there. But, really? Is this the best we can do? Why do we have our ministers out begging for money?

It apparently worked in decades past, but more and more young adult ministers are finding, that the support model doesn’t work anymore. They send out their best letters, and get no responses. What many are doing now, is taking to internet commerce. They send out their ministry letters and keep in touch via blogs and tweets all as prescribed. But in their spare time, they sell or do things online, or perform odd jobs when they can. Worship ministers have a better time of it, because they can create a product to sell, or do services and speaking engagements. But what of the rest?

I have mixed feelings about this. Is this the right way for the church to treat its ministers? But, with a populace already squeezed by economic crisis, do we have the extra money to donate? I don’t know. How should ministers live? n


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