Recently I have noticed a growing trend within my ministry context, which is that every Christian wants to be paid in order to do ministry. Now, before I go any further I want to be upfront and honest so that I don't get any stones thrown at me. Currently, I do get paid to do full-time vocational ministry, but I have been doing ministry for much more time than I have been getting paid to do it. For the majority of my years in ministry, I have worked in restaurants and coffee shops in order to provide for myself and my family. These places have always become a large part of my ministry, but I also focused on other areas within the local church. And to be fair, I do think that there is a place for individuals to get paid to do vocational ministry, but the focus of this post is whether or not one's obedience to Jesus and the Great Commission depends on money.
As I have been having these reoccurring conversations, I have been reminded of the book The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church: And the Causes That Hinder It, by Roland Allen. And though, it is over 85 years old, in many ways it speaks to issues in modern missions more than ever before.
In one section of the book Allen warns of the dangers that mission organizations can produce along with the serious difficulties it can cause both at home and abroad. The first major thing that he points out is that it makes all the progress depend upon money, which in result is the antithesis of spontaneous expansion.
Allen further points out that in a sense there have always been mission organizations, but the original he refers to as the simple necessary one, being the local church itself. It was only later and in to today that the more complicated large mission organizations came to be. Basically what he is pointing out is that there was no such thing as an organization that did missions for the early church, but the church itself was sufficient for such cause; obviously allowing for a spontaneous expansion of the church as we read in the New Testament.
Here Allen says, "If we compare our modern missionary work with the missionary work of the Early Church, this is what differentiates them: with us missions are the special work of a special organization; in the Early Church missions were not a special work and there was no special organization."
The key thing that Allen has pointed out that I want us all to get here, is that by allowing the progress to depend upon money, we are failing at being faithful to the Great Commission. Yes, I know and realize that our global church planting efforts take money, but we should not allow the progress to depend upon money.
And though Allen is referring to organizations that send missionaries out to do overseas work, my focus is also on those people within that context. I have become very frustrated recently as it seems many people I come across are only looking for a paycheck in order to do ministry. And the main reason that this is happening in my context is because at some point other organizations came in and immediately started paying people to do ministry, which set up an unhealthy, unreproducible, and unsustainable model. Many of those organizations no longer exist or quit paying workers, which has left many people roaming from Christian group to Christian group looking for their paycheck in order to do ministry.
I don't believe that modern day mission organizations are going away nor should they, but I would like to see the local church take the lead role in our missionary efforts as did the Early Church. Even in places where there are few churches, which is my context, I would like to see the local church continue their obedience to Jesus and the Great Commission regardless if there is outside money involved. So, what about you? Do you allow your obedience to Jesus and the Great Commission depend on money?