Alexis and I have been involved with leading ministry since before we were married (we took a year long break just after our wedding, 4 years ago this week!), and during all this time I have worked full time. We are currently in the process of becoming licensed Pastors (yes, both of us) and do not have plans to become “full time staff” anywhere. While there are times where I personally have longed to have 100% of my focus on ministry, I am seeing some things change in our world where I don’t think that’s going to be the norm.
I believe the people of the Church should support the Church through their tithes and extra special offerings, if everyone who had a Church they called “home” would tithe 10% we might see a lot more, not because there would be more money, but because there would be more sacrifice, tithing is not about supporting/paying the Church, it’s about your personal sacrifice, do you trust God in your life with your finances? Tithes are also not a tax, we can’t expect “services” from our tithes.
But with that said, I also believe that bi-vocational ministry (working full time outside the Church, and serving as a pastor, leader, teacher, etc inside the Church) can play a key role in building the Church to a place where we can “prepare God’s people for the works of service, so that the body may be built up” (Eph 4:12). I believe with all my heart that every single person who has a relationship with Jesus Christ has the gifts to minister, both inside and outside the Church. We must be mentoring our young, and we must be wise to listen to our elders, weather or not we are in a full-time paid ministry position, or simply obeying God by walking out our gifts, we are a called people! Ministry is not a job, it is not “work” in the sense of paid-work, it is love in action, it is the Church being who the Church is.
I love doing what I do in the Church, listening, encouraging, speaking life into people, loving on people, simply “being” there, speaking truth (even when it’s hard), and giving grace. I love, love, love it. I so badly wish I didn’t have to work, I wish I could do this full time, sometimes I really hate how tired I am from “work” and I really don’t feel like “pastoring” or “loving” or “ministering”. However, it never fails that as soon as I humble myself, let my flesh burn a little, and I obey God’s voice to do what he has gifted me to do, my energy level rises, my passion grows, and God does amazing things. So, as I read today in Isaiah 6:8 – “Here I am. Send me” – just as I did nearly 5 and a half years ago as I began my first year interning at East Hill. Love is how the world will know us, and our love of the Church (or lack thereof) will determine just how much actual (remember, who is love?) love spreads.