When they say, “Church needs some people to NOT do full-time ministry”…

It seems like a sound argument… If 100% of Christians tried to do paid-ministry, there’d be no-one to pay them. Therefore the church needs people who will faithfully decide to not do paid-ministry. Right?

Even though the statement is “true” it fails on three counts.

  1. It’s putting the cart before the horse. You don’t make a decision about entering paid-ministry on the basis of whether other people are doing it. You offer your life to God, you work it out with him – regardless of what other people are doing. What if God actually wants lots of people going into paid ministry!?!?
  2. No-where near 100% of people are going into full-time ministry. In fact, only about 50% of people who start on the road to paid-ministry end up in paid-ministry. Our church has a congregation of uni-students & grads, and only about %4 of them start on the road to full-time paid ministry!
    But think about all the other churches around Australia where students and grads are NOT being challenged to consider paid-ministry!!! That 4% ends up closer to 1%.
    Your church may not need more paid-ministers, but Jesus’ church does. So train at your church and take it to other churches.
  3. The argument implies that people who choose to “stay in the workforce” will be just as helpful to the gospel by being able to pay for others DOING paid-ministry (as compared to going into paid-ministry themselves).
    Anecdotally, this is false. If it were true, wouldn’t these people be making the same financial sacrifices those entering FT ministry make? The average MTS Scholarship is about $25-$30k. If you really believe the argument above, doesn’t that mean you should invest every cent you earn above $25k into gospel workers – people who are doing MTS?

5 thoughts on “When they say, “Church needs some people to NOT do full-time ministry”…

  1. Bri says:

    I agree with your first point. Regardless of what you do in life – paid ministry, paid work, buying a house, getting married – you should be seeking God’s wisdom. And the second point is true too, especially taking training to other churches. We should be encouraging people to think about full-time ministry, and we should be encouraging them to go to where people need to hear the gospel and get good biblical teaching (outside a metro area in Aus, indigenous communities, tribes, etc).

    It’s the third point that I don’t entirely agree with. As someone in fundraising in a Christian ministry, I see firsthand people giving huge amounts to our ministry. I know that without these large donors, we wouldn’t be the organisation we are, ministering to thousands of kids each year. We pray for God’s provision – they are a big part of it! And I know they give generously to other organisations as well as their church, and they are involved in ministry themselves. May not be teaching scripture every Wednesday, but it’s important none-the-less.

    We all need to continually be challenged to think how we finance God’s ministry (MTS isn’t the only training for gospel workers, there are many great training programs), but to suggest we invest every cent we earn above $25k into gospel workers seems a bit extreme.

    I don’t think we should be looking down on people in full-time work, just like we shouldn’t be putting people in full-time ministry on pedestals. They really do help build and sustain ministries that are sharing the gospel. Instead, I think we all need to constantly be challenged about what our motivations are for doing the work we do (e.g. wealth, stature, to be seen as a ‘good Christian’, etc). We also need to be challenged on where our priorities lie, where we are spending our resources (time, money, etc) and if they not going towards building God’s kingdom, what’s the point?

    • Thanks Bri.
      I think I need to make clear what I am saying and what I’m not saying.
      I’m NOT saying everyone who’s not doing FT gospel work should give every cent over $25k!! that’s a silly law.
      What I am saying is that if someone is going to use the argument; “I shouldn’t do FT gospel work bc the world needs ‘workers'” they should follow thru on the argument to the logical extent. It’s a way of showing their argument isn’t a good way to make decisions.

  2. Kate D says:

    Hmmm, agree with point #1.

    Anecdotally, I know several people who do practice point #3… Quick conversation with my housemate just now, she can also list people practicing point #3…

    #2- “all these churches around Australia”… I probably haven’t been to as many churches as you… but my experience is that churches do actively try and recruit more people than you are suggesting. For example- church A has about 25 Christians aged 20-35*- 3 are doing MTS, church B has 20- 1 is at bible college, 3 in fulltime ministry, church C has 20- at least one going to bible college…. church C has 7- at least one at bible college now, and one considering it…

    • Thanks Kate. There’s no doubt that many churches are encouraging ppls I consider FT gospel work. Great to see you’re hearing more of it happening.

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