Monday, April 10, 2006

Preacher "support"

Preacher support can be a sensitive issue and much more for some preachers than others. A friend and I were discussing some of the indignities he has suffered in his search for support. One set of elders asked why he had so many kids--didn't he think about how much kids cost to raise, etc.? He has 4 kids. He was also asked if he'd thought about getting an apartment with utilities included--it would be cheaper, you know. I wasn't sure such a thing existed anymore, but those I lived in when I was single could best be described as dumps and were certainly not the kind of place you'd want to raise children. Why was he treated this way? I've never been asked those kinds of questions or given that type of suggestion, even though I've asked for and received support from some of these very churches. Could it be that I'm White and he's not?

A laborer is worthy of his hire, or to make the New Testament application, a man who dedicates his time wholly to preaching the Word is worthy of support. Are there preachers that are not worthy of support--MOST DEFINITELY!! But if a man is not worthy of support he shouldn't be supported at all. If a man is worthy of support he needs to receive an adequate "wage"; whatever his circumstances require. Yes it cost more to raise 4 children than it does 3 or 2 or even 1. Some preachers also have other burdens, like health problems, support for aged parents, a very high cost of living, etc.

I was told by a church one time that they couldn't support anyone who made more than their local preacher. Now they lived in one of the cheapest areas of the country to live in and I was living in one of the highest at the time, so I thanked them for their time and moved on. Certainly they have the right to choose who and how much they will support a preacher, whether at home or in another place, but I find some brethren are very shortsighted.

There was a time I was reproached because I had a computer (this was long before every preacher had to have a computer)--if I had a computer I obviously didn't need any more financial help. My friend was told basically, "If you're so poor, how come you have a cell phone?" And the list goes on and on.

Brethren one more point and then I will close my tirade. I wonder if we think when we make a distinction among preachers. We would never question the "budget" of a white preacher, but the budget of a minority preacher needs to be gone over with a fine tooth comb. My friend was told to bring his budget and they elders would go through it with him and help him find ways to cut his expenses--he's trying to live on $2200 a month for 6 people and they're going to help him find ways to cut his expenses. Minority preachers are no more likely to be dishonest or poor stewards than are white preachers. I will close by saying again, if a man is worthy of support he is worthy to be supported with what he needs.


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