Pondering Plunder as a Preacher

In 1Peter 5 Peter warns elders not to be greedy for money, but eager to do ministry. I wonder how this relates to us as preachers? Obviously each of our situations are different. Many who read this have other income and on preaching receive a gift that may or may not cover the expenses of the fuel used to get to the church (especially when churches are giving the same gift they gave five or ten years ago!) Others mainly preach in one church and receive a salary for their ministry, which is then not connected to a specific message.

For the salaried I suppose the temptation to be greedy for money might show itself when it is time to review the salary or the employment contract, or when the temptation to move to a better paying church or job arises in the mind. For the preacher of one-off messages, I suppose the temptation to be greedy shows more frequently over smaller amounts.

I’ll share two principles I have in my ministry, then perhaps you’ll share how you face this issue in yours:

I want to always choose ministry on merit. My schedule is open enough to allow me to minister in numerous venues (churches, Bible schools, conferences, missions teams, etc.) However my schedule is not so open that I can accept every invitation. I have made it a personal goal to always evaluate ministry based on its strategic value, rather than what I might receive (or what it will cost me). So I generally prioritze teaching in a foreign Bible school (at my expense) over visiting a local church that gives a handsome gift to visiting preachers. Thankfully the Lord has honored this practice and I have been able to make ministry decisions without cost or revenue being a factor.

I do not charge for ministry. I get asked what I would charge for such and such. I have appreciated something Dr Jeff Arthurs at Gordon-Conwell shared once. If I were asked to speak as a professional (i.e. as a consultant for a business or in a university, perhaps on public speaking), then I would charge a professional fee in line with my qualifications, training, etc. But if I agree to do ministry, then I trust the Lord to provide through gifts (and if there is no gift, I chose to do the ministry without possible income being a factor, right?) I know speakers much more famous than me have appearance fees for ministry. I’m still trying to decide what I think about that.

Money may not be a motivator in ministry for us right now, but the temptation is always there. How do you make sure you are eager to do ministry, rather than eager to line your pockets?

2 thoughts on “Pondering Plunder as a Preacher

  1. This is a real struggle for those of us in “professional” ministry. We need to get paid to do our work full-time. But we do not want to be seen as hirelings. So I always have stated that the church is providing my means to do ministry but they are not paying me to do ministry. It is semantics, but a real concern. People who hire you to do something have the authority over you. But we as pastors are to be under God’s authority and Christ as the shepherd. We are his “employees” only. Yet the church’s bank account provides my means to do this. I know you may not be talking about this part of “pay” but it is connected isn’t it?

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