Charging For Ministry
Peddling the Word of God for Profit
2 Corinthians 2:15-17
15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
All ministry is free
Should ministers be charging for ministry for any reason? No! The Scriptures forbid charging for ministry such as worship, preaching and teaching of God's Word (including selling books or products), evangelism, conferences, fellowship of the church, psalms/hymns or spiritual songs, discipleship, leadership training, etc. in any circumstance or situation. It is that black and white. Here are some important Scriptures to ponder in this matter:
1 Corinthians 9:7-18
7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?
8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also?
9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about?
10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.
11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?
12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?
14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.
16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
Did you catch that last part? Charging to hear the gospel (which includes Bible teaching, discipleship and leadership training, preaching the word, Bible seminars, etc) is an abuse of authority. One day they will stand before God and I know that I would not want to be in their shoes when that happens.
3 John 5-8
5 Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers,
6 who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well,
7 because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles (fellow believers).
8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.
Yet these events have a cost. So who's going to pay for it? Where should the financial support come from? The local church.
God has called the church to be the means to reach the world.
What is the church? God’s people are the church. But not just God’s people doing what they want as they see fit. There is order within the body of Christ. Without every member working together the church will suffer. We need each other and we all play a part in the body of Christ, not as individuals, but as co-members of the body working together.
God's people through faithful giving of tithes and offerings to the local church are to supply the financial support for ministry. In this way when people give, it’s out of the abundance of their heart, with joy and NOT OBLIGATION. This also places a greater importance on the local church to be the training center for God’s kingdom which God has ordained. Through this biblical means, all events are abundantly provided for with no burden to the body of Christ. Freedom and liberty to join all events at no expense to all believers for the edification of all. Freely we receive, freely we give.
Ministry is defined as service to God and His creatures as we employ our Spirit-given giftedness, according to the instruction of Scripture as good stewards of the manifold grace of God for the advancement of His kingdom; that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 4:10-12)
God has designed genuine ministry to be inseparable from the life and leadership of the local church.
Any ministry that does not strengthen one's commitment to the local church is inconsistent with the purposes of Christ. (Acts 2:42-47; Hebrews 10:23-25).
All genuine ministry for the Lord cannot have an advanced price tag to pay before the ministry is given.
Why? Because then it is no longer ministry, but commerce, employ, trade or entertainment.
With ministry being defined above as service to God and His creatures; and with Christ as our example, we are to give all that we are for all that He is. There is no justification for ever charging for the work of the gospel. Think of what is happening: charging people to pay a ticket to come to a church or civic venue to hear the gospel and worship the Lord or charging people to buy a book to hear a revelation from the author to receive from God (if it’s even accurate). It’s simply shameful.
We should stand and get involved with those in ministry in the church and become better "fellow workers in the truth."
The greatest proof-text people will misuse out of the Bible to try to “justify” charging for the ministry of the Lord is this familiar phrase: "the workman is worthy of his hire."
I fully agree with that phrase for it is God’s Word; but they wrongly apply it when trying to condone treating ministry like a business, trade, or entertainment.
It doesn't mean we have the right to charge for “hire”. More appropriately it means those "who proclaim the gospel should receive their living by the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:14b) and do so in a manner that corresponds with the gospel.
The only question is how?
Answer: by not requiring a set fee for products or charging tickets for people to hear genuine ministry by those who want to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” But, biblically, genuine ministry should be supported through the cheerful, faithful giving of God's people to the local church. Aren't you glad that the Lord didn't charge any of us to hear about the good news of the gospel unto salvation? Aren't you glad that the Holy Spirit doesn't charge any of us for the spiritual gifts He gives to the church?
"Freely you have received, freely give."
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
9 Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts.