Christianity’s Prescription for Sick Churches
Nathan just showed me a personal Bible study he recently completed. It’s called, “What does the Bible say about paid/salaried Pastors?” It is a magnificent study. All he did was assemble the verses, study them in context, and type up the results. He gave me a copy to look at.
I wish you could read every word of it. I especially enjoyed his conclusion:
Let’s show our love for the world by loving them, visiting them, helping them, praying for them, ministering to them FREELY. Only then will they truly know the love of Jesus.
Why not live like Paul? Why not work with our own hands while using the gifts God has given us to share the good news with others? Why not care for our own needs without being a burden to others or the church of God?
Bingo! Every member of Christ’s Body is a minister. Every function is a ministry. This means, as Nathan implies, that all Christians are to be known by one word: servant. This service to others is an obligation, not an option. The Bible teaches the priesthood of all believers, and not merely a few.
Nathan himself is a rank-and-file part of his small congregation in rural Virginia. There he leads and plays piano and teaches the Bible lesson every Sunday, not as a pastor, but as a parishioner. (The church, in fact, has no full-time “pastor.”) This is how he “washes feet” in Jesus’ name. He refuses to be paid for serving. After all, he reasons, I am an able-bodied man and can support myself.
Nathan truly practices what he preaches. What a rich heritage his children will have. No, there is nothing wrong with receiving an occasional love offering from others. But that, it seems clear from Scripture, is to be the exception, not the rule.
I’m so proud of Nate and Jessie. I’m so pleased that they have rejected the “consumer” mentality of so many church members. And I’m so pleased with all of my students and friends who think and act like Jesus. (There are many of you!) I’m especially pleased with the way they so humbly follow their Savior, who went out of His way to serve others “free of charge.” Why? Because the Gospel is free!
During an election year it is important to remember that Christianity at its core is neither liberal nor conservative but radical. It involves being a “living sacrifice.” It thrives on scandalous love. The Christian is to be Christ’s servant in the world. It is just that simple. Thankfully, this servanthood can take place regardless of who becomes our next president!
In the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, Christianity has an ancient prescription for a modern malady. The only question is: Will sick churches take it?
October 28, 2008
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.