Scary Conversations

09Nov04

There’s a conversation that isn’t happening. Frankly, it isn’t happening because people are scared. I’m scared. And I think lots of other people are too.

I really wish we could have this conversation though – even if (and maybe because) it is scary. Not only that but I wish this scary conversation would happen publicly and globally – in places like Next-Wave, TheOoze, on blogs like Andrew Jones, Alan Creech, Jordan Cooper, and Kevin Rains (you know, the ones people read). It might even be helpful if the conversation happened (probably covertly) at those bastions of clerical production – seminaries. It’s the “professional ministry” conversation.

See, you’re scared too.

The conversation needs to happen because it is impeding our Kingdom-ward movement. That’s a pretty bold statement (especially since it is true :^). But there you go. It is scary because it means change. For some it may mean a change in occupation, a change in vocation (can that happen?!), or a change in theology (those are probably the hardest).

Here, I’ll frame the conversation (it’s really the least I could do). Should persons who are called by God to pastor churches be paid to do so? Why or why not? AND – If they aren’t then what the hell are they going to do support themselves and their families? And please, let’s get quickly beyond – “Yes! That’s the way we’ve always done it so it must be right”. Likewise, let’s get past “No! Just get a secular job”.

Those who know me know that I’m living this conversation (but I’d like some company). I am deeply suspicious of “professional (paid) ministry”, because I’ve been a paid youth minister. And am currently “in ministry” but not getting paid for it. I’m temping at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati for $$$, but not making enough for us to support a household of our own (we live in VC’s community house) – nor do I find my work particularly inspiring and I resent how much it takes me away from my family and community.

We need a better conversation (and better answers) because I think we’re floundering here. I am. How do we live authentically Kingdom-lives in the world when we work for the _______-machine (fill in the blank “church” “corporation” “business” “government” etc…)? How do we support our families in ways that are sufficient and responsible to the poor, the environment, and the church? How do we build authentic communities of faith when our time is divided into a buh-zillion (that’s the technical word for it) little bits?

If you get paid by the church or supported as a missionary – how do you justify/reconcile that? Does it create obstacles in your ministry?

If you don’t get paid by the church and work as a tentmaker – how do you keep a healthy balance of family and ministry and business? Does it create obstacles in your ministry?

Basically – what is your Theology of Economics? How do we get $$, how do we spend $$ as part of God’s Kingdom?

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