Paying Pastor and and Paying for Spiritual Material

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Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
I maybe am misunderstand[ing] the concept of a "workman is worth for his hire". I simply can not imagine Paul selling for hire one of his letters back then.....or even in our day.

I also would give the benefit of the doubt the Pastor may not have any financial stake in his writings at all.
@earl40 I will bite.

  1. Regarding a pastor being paid, how would you interpret the following as not expecting payment? Paul not being paid, to me, seems to be the exception , but then again what he was doing was unique.1 Corinthians 9:8-14 "Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain. Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. "
  2. The thing you were responding to was a journal article, not a pastor's letter to the congregation. I think they are two different categories. If we are engaging about a journal that covers spiritual things, didn't the Reformation eliminate the view that there are two classes: the professional Christians and the lay Christian? If so, if secular journal can expect money, shouldn't a spiritual journal as well?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Conversely, if a pastor should not accept payment for his labors on an article or book, either one must say, I as a publiser should expect to be provided for free commentaries etc. to publish for profit for myself, or neither should I publish for a profit (as the goal). Is something like the late Dr. Sproul's ministry automatically classed as selling the gospel for gain because they sell stuff to support that ministry, raise enough to build a big fancy church, build a legacy ministry, etc.? It may be there is a line somewhere between saying the pastor cannot make anything, and crossing over into self-seeking and making a gain out of the gospel, as Paul was to be accused of by the Corinthians and why he chose not to receive anything from them, but who is fit to draw that line? The lesson from Paul is that we should allow offense to dictate on this question, but that is not the normal situation but the abnormal one.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
@earl40 I will bite.

  1. Regarding a pastor being paid, how would you interpret the following as not expecting payment? Paul not being paid, to me, seems to be the exception , but then again what he was doing was unique.1 Corinthians 9:8-14 "Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain. Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. "
  2. The thing you were responding to was a journal article, not a pastor's letter to the congregation. I think they are two different categories. If we are engaging about a journal that covers spiritual things, didn't the Reformation eliminate the view that there are two classes: the professional Christians and the lay Christian? If so, if secular journal can expect money, shouldn't a spiritual journal as well?
Regarding your first point I agree a Pastor is allowed to receive wages for his ministry and have absolutely no problem with such.

Towards your second point and questions. I would say the Reformation kept kept the officers of the church, with their duties, separate than the laity. Also I would say a publishing house would be a business and not a ministry in the biblical sense of what a ministry is with it's Ministers.
 

Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
Regarding your first point I agree a Pastor is allowed to receive wages for his ministry and have absolutely no problem with such.

Towards your second point and questions. I would say the Reformation kept kept the officers of the church, with their duties, separate than the laity. Also I would say a publishing house would be a business and not a ministry in the biblical sense of what a ministry is with it's Ministers.
My apologies then, I must have misunderstood what you were saying. I took what you said to mean that you were equating the article in question with a letter from a pastor to a congregation. But sounds like you are keeping them separated and your concern is a pastor who has a pay per each service he does in his work?
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Conversely, if a pastor should not accept payment for his labors on an article or book, either one must say, I as a publiser should expect to be provided for free commentaries etc. to publish for profit for myself, or neither should I publish for a profit (as the goal).
If asked I suspect many Pastors would be willing to teach and write articles for free. What I am saying overall to think a Pastor expects payment for ministering seems off. As to what I referenced before.....Can you imagine asking Jesus or Paul to write or teach anything with an expectation of payment for a particular service.




Is something like the late Dr. Sproul's ministry automatically classed as selling the gospel for gain because they sell stuff to support that ministry, raise enough to build a big fancy church, build a legacy ministry, etc.?.
I personally would label his "ministry" a business, like your publishing is a business. Now in saying this I have no problem with either businesses.

It may be there is a line somewhere between saying the pastor cannot make anything, and crossing over into self-seeking and making a gain out of the gospel, as Paul was to be accused of by the Corinthians and why he chose not to receive anything from them, but who is fit to draw that line? The lesson from Paul is that we should allow offense to dictate on this question, but that is not the normal situation but the abnormal one.
I hear you and totally believe a workman should be recomposed for his work. The question remains....When would one label that work a Ministry or a business?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I personally would label his "ministry" a business, like your publishing is a business. Now in saying this I have no problem with either businesses.
So a minister nowadays can sell a set of lectures or sermons he's preached if he calls it a publishing business like Paul had a tent business, but if he simply adds the money to his personal income support in the work of the gospel without that distinction, it is not okay? I think that is a rather artificial distinction and sort underscores the difficulty in what you are trying to maintain.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Let's say we establish that a minister (or even some other worker in the church) may be paid by his church and ought to be paid if the resources are available. This seems clear to me not only from a handful of New Testament verses but from the Old Testament pattern that had the Levites receiving various shares. They got paid out of the tithes of others so they could devote their attention to the Lord's work.

Now the issue becomes not the paying of ministers by a church, but the propriety of a minister making side income out of his gospel teaching. There are some ministers who insist on providing books and other recourses they write for free. There can be many good reasons to do this, especially if they can find a low-cost way to distribute those books and articles and such.

But if a minister wants to use a Christian publisher, there are many practical reasons why it is good for the publisher to pay him royalties or otherwise compensate him. It is not only fair payment for his skills and efforts, it also adds a level of financial accountability that encourages deadlines to be met, provides legal protections, and promotes cooperation at all stages between the publisher and the writer. The financial incentive in Christian publishing is usually rather small, just enough to provide that accountability but not something that makes many writers or others in the business rich.

The question, then, is whether there ought to be a Christian publishing industry at all. Maybe churches or denominations should be overseeing, funding, and providing all our written resources and paying pastor-authors as they see fit. That is an intriguing thought. It already happens to an extent. But to make it exclusive would require better cooperation than we have now and an unselfish commitment to minister to people outside of a church's own congregation or denominational camp. I like the thought, personally, if it would work. But I don't see it working anytime soon, and the system we have now is not such a bad one. We do have unprecedented access to great Christian writing.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
So a minister nowadays can sell a set of lectures or sermons he's preached if he calls it a publishing business like Paul had a tent business, but if he simply adds the money to his personal income support in the work of the gospel without that distinction, it is not okay? I think that is a rather artificial distinction and sort underscores the difficulty in what you are trying to maintain.
My contention he (Pastors) should not be in the business of selling ones sermons. Now if you sell them, fine and dandy. Making and selling tents is categorically different than selling The Word from a Minister.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
My contention he (Pastors) should not be in the business of selling ones sermons. Now if you sell them, fine and dandy.
The origin of this thread came from Chris stating he had permission to quote from an article by David VanDrunen.

So the concern that prompted all this was whether a pastor can claim control over his work. If it is OK for RC Sproul to make that claim, how is it different for DVD?

And further, what would one think of a publisher who routinely borrowed from another's work without permission?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
My contention he (Pastors) should not be in the business of selling ones sermons. Now if you sell them, fine and dandy. Making and selling tents is categorically different than selling The Word from a Minister.
So if I sell them and pay him a royalty it is okay, but for him to sell them directly, it is not okay? Or do you mean he should not even get a royalty for them?
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
There is no question that ministers deserve to be paid a fair and decent wage. I think this is clearly established in Scripture. I do sometimes question if there is a line somewhere that some may have crossed. Most of the very prominent pastors with large publishing ministries (MacArthur, Sproul, etc.) are or were millionaires.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
It's a nice if modern problem to face. Spurgeon's ministry ensured he enjoyed some of the finer things, correct? Let the few that attain superstar status like this face the problems of wealth and temptations of a legacy ministry which are somewhat unique to that status, but let's not deny the ability of the vast majority of ministers to choose how they utilize their materials they first delivered in their pulpit ministries.
There is no question that ministers deserve to be paid a fair and decent wage. I think this is clearly established in Scripture. I do sometimes question if there is a line somewhere that some may have crossed. Most of the very prominent pastors with large publishing ministries (MacArthur, Sproul, etc.) are or were millionaires.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Perhaps it is beside the point of this topic, but it irritates me that this came up, because of three pastors, whom I know personally, who don't always get a paycheck for their pastoral ministry and preaching. This due to their congregations waxing and waning in size, and in finances.

If I know three pastors in my little corner of the world, from two different denominations, who are not only not getting rich, but are struggling, how many more are selflessly giving of themselves to shepherd and feed the flock ?
 

Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
Let the few that attain superstar status like this face the problems of wealth and temptations of a legacy ministry which are somewhat unique to that status, but let's not deny the ability of the vast majority of ministers to choose how they utilize their materials they first delivered in their pulpit ministries.
Some of those ministries (for lack of a better word), serve as an additional resources for local churches or for personal use. I do not buy that it is all vain-glory.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Spurgeon's ministry ensured he enjoyed some of the finer things, correct?
I am not sure how long it lasted, but he wasn't insulated from financial worries at all times. For instance, I recall reading that he wrote the book Eccentric Preachers in order to make some money. But he was able to travel to France for his health as needed.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Agreed; but problems with such are public enough to grant we cannot be blind to the fact that that kind of success brings on its own share of issues, temptations, etc. I'm just saying that that should not negate the rights of all pastors to discern how to best use the materials they produce in the course of their regular ministry.
Some of those ministries (for lack of a better word), serve as an additional resources for local churches or for personal use. I do not buy that it is all vain-glory.
 

Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
@NaphtaliPress I do not disagree. I was thinking of Ligioner and how it fits @Jack K example of being able to distribute low cost material and I think they have some initiatives for non-English content. They have some "gift of any amount" at times that you can get some good resources, not that I need more of a backlog to read/listen to.

I obviously cannot speak for Sproul himself.
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
Is Paul talking about a local pastor or a church planting evangelist?

Should the sheep pay to be discipled ?

@earl40 I will bite.

  1. Regarding a pastor being paid, how would you interpret the following as not expecting payment? Paul not being paid, to me, seems to be the exception , but then again what he was doing was unique.1 Corinthians 9:8-14 "Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain. Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. "
  2. The thing you were responding to was a journal article, not a pastor's letter to the congregation. I think they are two different categories. If we are engaging about a journal that covers spiritual things, didn't the Reformation eliminate the view that there are two classes: the professional Christians and the lay Christian? If so, if secular journal can expect money, shouldn't a spiritual journal as well?
 

Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is Paul talking about a local pastor or a church planting evangelist?
I do not see him differentiating the two. It seems like his criteria is those who "proclaim the gospel". That seems to fit someone with a settled congregation and someone planting.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Should the sheep pay to be discipled ?
According to Paul, the answer is yes: Galatians 6:6:
The one who is taught the message must share all his good things with the teacher. (Gal. 6:6 CSB)

(Of course, Paul is also eager to offer discipling free of charge under certain circumstances, as he says in 1 Cor. 9:18, but he sees that as the exception not the norm.)

But I haven't seen anyone arguing for charging admission to church (though seat rents were a thing in church history). The issue is what a pastor may legitimately do outside the regular responsibilities of ministry to a local congregation. If he can't get paid for writing an article, or revising a series of sermons for publication, then he shouldn't get paid for speaking at a conference (or even as a visiting preacher?). Is it possible to abuse that privilege and neglect the local flock in pursuit of more lucrative tasks? Sure. But very few men are in that situation, and some who are may choose to donate large portions of their royalties without making a public show if it. Each minister should be accountable to his local Session and ultimately to the Lord for how he spends his time. In many cases, Sessions are glad to see their ministers gifts shared with the wider kingdom, and happy to see his family modestly better provided for as a result.
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
The context is church planting/ missionary work not a local pastor. Offering the gospel free of charge is the right example to follow.

I do not see him differentiating the two. It seems like his criteria is those who "proclaim the gospel". That seems to fit someone with a settled congregation and someone planting.
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
If you sow spiritual things you should reap material things?

If Paul (greater) offered the gospel for free should not a local pastor (lesser) do the same and even more so?

According to Paul, the answer is yes: Galatians 6:6:
The one who is taught the message must share all his good things with the teacher. (Gal. 6:6 CSB)

(Of course, Paul is also eager to offer discipling free of charge under certain circumstances, as he says in 1 Cor. 9:18, but he sees that as the exception not the norm.)

But I haven't seen anyone arguing for charging admission to church (though seat rents were a thing in church history). The issue is what a pastor may legitimately do outside the regular responsibilities of ministry to a local congregation. If he can't get paid for writing an article, or revising a series of sermons for publication, then he shouldn't get paid for speaking at a conference (or even as a visiting preacher?). Is it possible to abuse that privilege and neglect the local flock in pursuit of more lucrative tasks? Sure. But very few men are in that situation, and some who are may choose to donate large portions of their royalties without making a public show if it. Each minister should be accountable to his local Session and ultimately to the Lord for how he spends his time. In many cases, Sessions are glad to see their ministers gifts shared with the wider kingdom, and happy to see his family modestly better provided for as a result.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
If you sow spiritual things you should reap material things?

If Paul (greater) offered the gospel for free should not a local pastor (lesser) do the same and even more so?
That's almost exactly what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:11: "If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much that we reap material things from you?" Paul's whole premise in this chapter was that his offering the gospel without asking for support in Corinth was irregular and anomalous. He has the right to choose to do so, but he also had the right to receive support from those to whom he is ministering, as the other apostles did (and as he did on other occasions).
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
The only thing around this issue that has ever bothered me has been the use of honorariums in some circumstances. For instance, a pastor goes on vacation, contacts a local pastor he knows in the area so he can preach, recycles a sermon that his congregation already paid him to produce, gets paid an honorarium which he uses to pay for vacation to that area. Then pastors start getting reciprocal arrangements with each other to perpetuate the whole thing. Something about it seems a bit off but I haven't been able to quite put my finger on it. Maybe I am wrong to be bothered but it seems to be done more out of a way to generate side income (we'd call that a "side hustle" in the entrepreneur world) rather than necessarily dong what is best for the flock - but then again, maybe I am wrongly judging motives.
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
If what your saying is true then this follows:

1. Paul is sinning

2. We should not follow his example

3. We should hinder the gospel

4. We should be a burden to the church



That's almost exactly what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:11: "If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much that we reap material things from you?" Paul's whole premise in this chapter was that his offering the gospel without asking for support in Corinth was irregular and anomalous. He has the right to choose to do so, but he also had the right to receive support from those to whom he is ministering, as the other apostles did (and as he did on other occasions).
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
Great point.
Should we pay widows?
Should slaves pay their masters?


The only thing around this issue that has ever bothered me has been the use of honorariums in some circumstances. For instance, a pastor goes on vacation, contacts a local pastor he knows in the area so he can preach, recycles a sermon that his congregation already paid him to produce, gets paid an honorarium which he uses to pay for vacation to that area. Then pastors start getting reciprocal arrangements with each other to perpetuate the whole thing. Something about it seems a bit off but I haven't been able to quite put my finger on it. Maybe I am wrong to be bothered but it seems to be done more out of a way to generate side income (we'd call that a "side hustle" in the entrepreneur world) rather than necessarily dong what is best for the flock - but then again, maybe I am wrongly judging motives.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
The only thing around this issue that has ever bothered me has been the use of honorariums in some circumstances. For instance, a pastor goes on vacation, contacts a local pastor he knows in the area so he can preach, recycles a sermon that his congregation already paid him to produce, gets paid an honorarium which he uses to pay for vacation to that area. Then pastors start getting reciprocal arrangements with each other to perpetuate the whole thing. Something about it seems a bit off but I haven't been able to quite put my finger on it. Maybe I am wrong to be bothered but it seems to be done more out of a way to generate side income (we'd call that a "side hustle" in the entrepreneur world) rather than necessarily dong what is best for the flock - but then again, maybe I am wrongly judging motives.
Is this a hypothetical?
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
If what your saying is true then this follows:

1. Paul is sinning

2. We should not follow his example

3. We should hinder the gospel

4. We should be a burden to the church
Perhaps the confusion arose because I said 1 Cor 16:11, when I should have said 1 Corinthians 9:11:
Paul's argument in this chapter is as follows:
1. Apostles and other traveling evangelists have a right to be supported in their labors, with food, drink and support for their families. (1 Cor 9:4-5)
2. Barnabas and he are unusual in not exercising the right to refrain from working for a living while serving God (v.6)
3. This is common sense (v.7)
4. It has divine warrant in the OT (v.8-10)
Conclusion (v.11): "If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much that we reap material things from you?"
5. Others have a rightful claim to this support, and so do Paul and Barnabas, even though they have chosen not to exercise it (v.12-13)
Principle: "Those who proclaim the gospel should get their living from the gospel" (v.14)

So in answer to your questions:
1. Paul is not sinning.
2. he doesn't tell us to follow his example; he explicitly says that his example is abnormal.
3. We should not hinder the gospel, but God's normal method of providing for pastors is through those who benefit from their ministry. (Of course there are exceptions. I'm a bi-vocational pastor myself)
4. Pastors are not a burden to the church when the church supports them; it should be the church's delight to be able to provide well materially for those who bless them spiritually. WLC Q.108 includes the maintenance of the ministry as one of the duties required by the second commandment.

Is that perhaps clearer?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Bill G, Dr. Duguid's interpretation of 1 Cor 9 is not controversial. I suggest you read a few commentaries on the passage. I have never heard of a commentator that has come to the conclusion that Paul is sinning.
 
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