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Navigating Paul’s Support Paradox

Support Paradox

“Steve is a biblical counselor. He believes that God has called him to minister to the broken in spirit, and he sincerely wants to help people be healed and whole, walking in victory over sin through the power of the gospel. But he’s concerned that if he charges the same rates for counseling sessions as other prominent biblical counselors in his area, he’ll end up alienating the poor. During times of prayer he believes that God has placed a desire within him to simply give counsel for free, but older, more experienced counselors have talked him out of it.

Although Steve believes that the Bible is sufficient for godly wisdom, he has failed to turn to it for answers to the simple question as to whether he should require payment for “speaking truth in love” to broken people. He has failed to heed Jesus’ command to give freely (Matt 10:8), and allowed the conventional, worldly wisdom of his superiors to eclipse the sincere desire God has placed on his heart. 

Steve is a tragic example of someone with an honest desire to honor God, but who was derailed by the blindness, complacency, and carnal pragmatism around him. He’s trapped in a fog of confusion. In the end, biblical counselors are offering to lead people to Jesus through the Scriptures, with wisdom, truth, and sincere friendship–things that cannot and should never be sold. But Steve is unable to see this fact.” –Adapted from SellingJesus.org

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Money

Why Did Paul Refuse Support from Corinth?

Mandy is an Old Testament scholar and the author of some of the best commentaries on Job and Amos. Both are published by Zondervan and don’t cost more than other commentaries. She’s also employed by a legacy Bible institute and teaches several courses, including biblical Hebrew.

Unfortunately and unwittingly, Mandy is selling Jesus. The problem for her, like many others, is the fact that she has simply never thought about copyright or the status quo of selling Christian teaching. Even though she is a deep, critical thinker and has a PhD, she hasn’t taken the time to think biblically about whether it’s right to sell her commentaries on God’s Word or require students to pay tuition before being able to learn about the Bible from her.

She has accepted an old, widespread system without a second thought, assuming that the system is biblical because so many other people have bought into it. If you were to challenge her to think differently and reconsider how biblical the system is, she would dismiss any contrary ideas as ‘fringe’ and not worthy of her time.” –Adapted from SellingJesus.org

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Money

A Clash of Cultures and the Dorean Principle

Clash of Cultures

Jordan pastors Beverly Hills Baptist Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in California. Although his church and nonprofit organization take in millions of dollars/year in donations, most of his sermons are not free to download online. Instead, each of his sermons is listed on the church webstore for 99 cents. When people ask him why he doesn’t make his sermons available for free, he typically answers with several reasons.

We are just covering the costs of the servers and people who maintain the website. There is a cost involved in making my sermons available on the Internet. Also, don’t forget that the sermons I preach are considered ‘works for hire,’ so they legally belong to my church, which is my employer. I don’t own them; the church owns them. So when you pay for them, the money doesn’t go into my pocket; it goes into the church’s ministry account. Why wouldn’t my church want to charge for access to my sermons? We don’t think it strange that pastors charge for the books they write. And just like books, these sermons are expensive to produce. 

Jordan means well, and genuinely thinks he’s doing what’s right in the sight of God, but the culture around him has squeezed him into its mold. He has believed the lie that it is impossible to cover the cost of a website by donations. And he fails to realize that the sincerity of his preaching is compromised by selling it, no matter what the price may be. His God is not big enough to provide money to pay the bills.” –Adapted from SellingJesus.org

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Money

How Ministry Was Funded in the Old Testament, Part 2

Funded in the Old Testament

Luke is a gifted preacher and speaker. Some of the biggest summer camps book him years in advance, and large churches love to invite him to present at conferences.

In the early years of his preaching ministry he would only receive honorariums as a free gift that churches might give him to help cover expenses. But now he receives more requests than he can commit to. At one point an old pastor told him that he needed to think about charging upfront for speaking engagements. His family agreed that this was a wise idea, and after considering it prayerfully, Luke began making it clear that he would require X amount in payment in addition to all of his travel expenses before agreeing to speak at an event. At first he didn’t like how this exchange felt, especially when smaller, likable churches couldn’t afford what he asked. But as the money started to flow, after a while he got used to it.

Once in a while when Luke has quieted his heart and is out on an evening walk with God, conflicted sentiments crowd his thoughts, and his conscience wonders whether he’s doing the right thing by putting a price tag on sharing what God has freely given him.” –Adapted from SellingJesus.org

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Money

How Ministry Was Funded in the Old Testament, Part 1

Ministry Was Funded

James is a worship leader. When he was single he wrote some of his best worship songs in the evenings while working at a bookstore to make ends meet. His heart’s passion is to serve the Church with Bible-saturated, God-centered, beautiful music that will point people to Christ. In the days of MySpace he was happy to post his songs for free for people to stream, and some of them started going viral. Eventually a Christian record label approached him and laid out a plan to turn his passion into a ‘career.’

Now James leads worship events for large conferences and usually charges an upfront fee of tens of thousands of dollars for each event. His songs are now sung in churches around the world and bring in a steady stream of income through royalties and CCLI. His recordings are no longer free to listen to, but every now and then he’ll release one at no cost to download, which makes him feel good that he has done his part to be generous.

James has been deceived by the ‘professionals’ into believing that the worship of God can be sold as a commodity. He also has bought into the lie that reaching large numbers of people means that God must automatically approve of the way one is doing ministry.” –Adapted from SellingJesus.org

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Money, Priesthood