September 9, 2019
Should We Be Charging For Ministry?
It is also the result of listening to a short podcast by a well-known woman who is seen as an apostolic/prophetic voice in today's Body of Christ. I want to say that I greatly admire her spiritual discernment and wisdom, and was most interested in hearing her presentation on the destructive influence of the spirits of Jezebel and her daughter Athalaia. She disclosed her battles with these demonic spirits and that, through spiritual revelation, she had found the key in Scripture to defeating them. But she closed her presentation with an invitation to find out what that key was by enrolling in her online course for a fee of $79.
Now, I want to say that this is not a unique situation. Many gifted teachers and ministers take advantage of technology to reach millions of people seeking the Lord; people they would otherwise never be able to reach with the Gospel. And it is a revolutionary way to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. But I personally [and seriously] struggle with charging for this [literally] life-saving knowledge.
Is it unfair of me to ask this question: If you know the key to defeating Jezebel and her daughter, why would you not freely share that information so that other Believers could be delivered from their bondage? How do you justify withholding that counsel for a sum of money? Please, I am not judging or blaming the ministers of God for making a living. We all have to live in this world and it takes money to meet our worldly needs. And I know that Scripture says, "the laborer is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:7); or another way to put it is, "the laborer deserves his wages" or "you are my harvester, and you deserve to be cared for." But does that mean we should be charging for what the Lord has called us to, or the revelation He has freely provided?
I realize this is a touchy subject, and it is certainly one that Mark and I have wrestled with over time. The foundation of our Inner Healing Ministry has always been Matthew 10:8, which says, "You must continually bring healing to lepers and to those who are sick, and make it your habit to break off the demonic presence from people, and raise the dead back to life. Freely you have received the power of the kingdom, so freely release it to others." I remember the first time someone tried to slip me some money after a Healing session, and it literally felt like it burned my hand! I could not conceive taking money for something that Jesus had done [albeit through our obedience and participation]. It just didn't feel right.
In fact, Matthew 10:9 says [in the Passion Translation], "Don’t heap up silver and gold in your money belts." This Aramaic interpretation is about more than just not taking money, but is about not seeking the accumulation of money by using God’s anointing that He has graciously imparted to you.
Again, I also understand that people doing the work of the Lord have to make a living. And if the Lord's work is their heart's desire, then how is the financial provision to be made? I believe there is a difference between offering a service to people that requires materials, a staff, and the rental of a place to conduct the work for the Body of Christ -- these are expenses that must be paid -- and dispensing Biblical instruction to people that costs nothing more than your time with the Lord to receive the revelation. Am I being overly judgmental, or is my thinking wrong on this matter? How did the Early Church Fathers handle this situation?
I look to Paul's writings for revelation. Scripture tells us that he continued his vocation of tent-making whenever his ministry allowed. I believe that means that Paul supported himself, instead of charging for his ministry. That seems to be his message in 1 Corinthians 9:16-18, too: "For you see, even though I proclaim the good news, I can’t take the credit for my labors, for I am compelled to fulfill my duty by completing this work. It would be agony to me if I did not constantly preach the gospel! 17 If it were my own idea to preach as a way to make a living, I would expect to be paid. Since it’s not my idea but God’s, who commissioned me, I am entrusted with the stewardship of the gospel whether or not I’m paid. 18 So then, where is my reward? It is found in continually depositing the good news into people’s hearts, without obligation, free of charge, and not insisting on my rights to be financially supported."
So can you see my dilemma and why this is such a sensitive subject? If the Lord has called us to do the work of the Kingdom, and it is by His gift of anointing that we have been spiritually educated to spread and share what He has revealed, can we in good conscious profit from it? And if your answer is "No", then how are we to support our needs while carrying out our assignments?
I will share with you a particular situation that my husband and I recently encountered. We were approached by a minister and greatly-respected teacher of the Kingdom of God to assist in managing his growing web-based teaching sessions. We would facilitate the online courses for all those who enrolled in the classes, and he encouraged us to join him in this ministry saying that we could easily earn a sizable amount of money. But that opportunity came at too high a price. It would mean that we would have to give up our own ministry that God had called us to. It didn't take but a few minutes to walk away from that temptation. We knew that God had sanctified us and our property for His purpose and we were on mission for Him. We still see [and approve of] the incredible work this minister is doing for the Lord, and we know it benefits so many Christians, us included. But it is just not the way we want to serve the Lord.
So, I come back to the question of how do lay ministers who want to freely give what they have received, support the call on their lives? I will tell you that it can be a struggle to balance your desire to pursue your calling and still pay the bills. And if your spirit is not comfortable with charging for ministering to the Body of Christ, then I offer this from Scripture: "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? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:13-14).
In other words, by being obedient to fulfilling the call and purpose on your life to minister to the Body of Christ, I think that it is acceptable [in my mind at least] to receive what we call "love offerings"; financial support freely given from the heart of those who have benefited from your teaching, or those who wish to sow into God's harvest. But I also feel it is an individual decision, whether to give and whether to receive. And there are those instances in which I see books being sold and that money being poured back into the ministry to help dispense teaching materials to the Believers in the field of harvest. There will just be those times when money is exchanged. And it is definitely clear that there are no black and white rules, and each person must go to the Lord to determine his/her path in this debatable arena of ministry.
So, the bottom line is this: we are blessed in this season to have an abundance of exceptional teachers and ministers of the Gospel. Each must decide for themselves how they will make a living and what place profiting from God's calling on their lives will hold. Ultimately, it is between you and the Lord. I just bless all who answer the call and pray that their decisions honor God's purpose and will.
1 Corinthians 9:10 Doesn’t He also give us this principle so that we won’t withhold support from his workers? It was written so that we would understand that the one spiritually “plowing” and spiritually “treading out the grain” also labors with the expectation of enjoying the harvest.