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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Selling out

Warning. I'm a little fired up and irate as I write this. I'll try to be cautious with my words while still speaking my heart. Let me tell you the source of my frustration. Pastors/speakers/musicians (and others) profiting off of Jesus. Now, I know the Bible is clear that the "workman is worthy of his hire." I am a firm believer in the idea that every man should be paid according to his work and that professional ministers do not take a vow of poverty when they enter ministry. I'm not talking about churches paying their professional pastors an acceptable salary for doing the work they were called to do.

Here's an example of what I am talking about--a pastor in a large metro area up north. Most lay people wouldn't even recognize his name if I called it but, for his sake, I'll keep it a secret. This pastor had a really good blog entry back a couple of months ago on leadership. I read it, reflected on it, even acted on some of the suggestions that he made. It was really good stuff. Because I liked what I read and had read a portion of one of his books, I signed up to get some more information and some of his future writing.

The flood gate opened. Literally, since that first week, I have received dozens of emails a week (sometimes 2 or 3 a day) promoting his "material." None of it free...nor economically priced. He shares about how he has a heart to bless other pastors and churches, then offers a coaching session every month for several hundred dollars. With it...a guarantee that your church will grow by 30%.

Are you kidding me? This guy has met with tremendous success where he is. He is obviously a gifted leader. But did it ever occur to him that the church he shepherds is growing because of what God is doing? Am I really to believe that God gave him this gift to lead and this talent to teach so that he could sell overpriced manuals and handbooks on everything from how to raise your offerings to how to greet guests, from how to preach a sermon to how to train new leaders?

This is a growing concern for me in our churches. Remember, I'm not talking about a pastor writing a good inspirational book and getting paid for it. I'm not talking about cutting the salaries of gifted leaders who come alongside other pastors and walk this journey with them. I am talking about the growing trend to put the word "Consultant" by your name, charge an outrageous fee and call it good "all in the name of the Kingdom." In my mind, it's a prostitution of the Kingdom all in the name of riches.

If the Kingdom of God is really what we are concerned about, then why not follow the lead of the pastors who are helping out others just because it's the right thing to do? Instead of writing another manual or offering another seminar, how about encouraging leaders to dive back into the Word of God together and find out His leadership principles for the church? In the Bible is everything we need to do everything He has asked us to do. The writings and teachings of capable leaders are a nice addition to help us understand what God is saying but, stripping everything else away, the Word will stand on its own.

When it comes to churches, Christ followers and the future of God's kingdom, I can't guarantee you that anything I say will increase your attendance, your knowledge or your offerings. Thankfully, though, God can.

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