Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Ministers, money, and Mennonites

Quote from Menno Simons: O my faithful reader, ponder this.  As long as the world distributes splendid houses and such large incomes to their preachers, the false prophets and deceivers will be there by droves.

I admit that this seems a little unjust when I think of preachers I have known in small towns and small city churches across Canada who were not very well paid.  Yet I have noted a disappointing tendency among many of them to tailor their preaching to give the least offence, so as not to spoil their chances to move to a larger, better paying church later on.  We all remember what big incomes did to many of the famous TV preachers of the past generation, don’t we?

Menno had a solution: the ministers should provide their own incomes: Therefore this is my brief conclusion and Christian admonition to all preachers and teachers.  Brethren, humble yourselves and become unblamable disciples, that you may hereafter become called ministers.  Try your spirit, love, and life before you commence to shepherd and to teach.  Do not fo on your own account, but wait until you are called of the Lord’s church; I say, of the Lord’s church, of the Spirit of God, and are constrained by urging love.  If this takes place, brethren, then pastor diligently, preach and teach valiantly, cast from you all filthy lucre and booty; rent a farm, milk cows, learn a trade if possible, do manual labour as did Paul, and all that which you then fall short of will doubtlessly be given and provided you by pious brethren, by the grace of God, not in superfluity, but as necessity requires.

This is still the practice of the church to which I belong.  In the congregation where we live, one of our ministers is a house builder, the other manages a large chicken farm.  All of our ministers, in every country, are self supporting.  A congregation usually reimburses its ministers for travel on church business and I know of at least one instance where a congregation had a love offering for their ministers whose incomes were reduced by time spent in the work of the church.

One advantage of not being dependent on the congregation for their livelihood, is that ministers are free to speak the hard truths that need to be said without fear that their wages might diminish or their employment be terminated.  Another is the realization that we are all in this together.  The spiritual life of a congregation cannot be totally dependent on the spirituality of the minister; we are a brotherhood and every member must contribute to the spiritual life of our fellowship.

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2 responses to “Ministers, money, and Mennonites

  1. Jason Ministries March 5, 2013 at 13:54

    Good thoughts; I have often pondered how it would be if congregations “capped” staff salaries. It should be a given that Ministers are in ministry to serve God, not to get monetarily wealthy. They are to be training disciples to serve God and reach the lost, not to fleece the flock in order to line their pockets. Enjoyed your post; thank you for sharing.

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