Ministering For Money?

June 12, 2009

1 Timothy 6:5 speaks of certain men who thought that godliness was “a means to financial gain.” I’ve just penned the following lines for my preaching on it this Sunday:

The problem was these men were “in it for the money.” See, while its true  that those who serve well in Christian ministry are worthy of the honour of financial remuneration (1 Tim 5: 17), the remuneration itself should not be the motive for ministry.  

God help the pastor who accepts or rejects speaking invitations -nevermind the call to a church – on the crass, blunt basis of monetary considerations!

In his own inimitable way, Charles Spurgeon reflects upon this in his  book Lectures to my Students: 

“How strange it would be to hear a man say, ‘I am a servant of the Most High God, and I will go wherever I can get the most salary. I am called to labour for the glory of Jesus only, and I will go nowhere unless the church is of the most respectable standing. For me to live is Christ, but I cannot do it under £500 per annum.” 



  1. Colin,

    I am a recent college graduate from a christian school with a degree in biblical studies. To make a long story short, I had to pay my way (by taking out loans) to finish my last year of bible college. The school I attended was rather expensive (>$30,000 USD/year) and so I have accrued a sizable debt.

    This post strikes at the question I have been wrestling with. Because of my debt, I “cannot” take a job in ministry for under a certain salary (Covering basic living expenses). I am wrestling between the wisdom of paying off my debt, while on the other hand I do not want to set a financial criteria for choosing a church to work and serve.

    In a sense, I do feel that I am seeking a job to be remunerated. In order to pay off debt and live (housing, food and transportation) I need a certain amount of money, but certainly I do not feel that I am “in it for the money”. But I do struggle with bypassing churches/ministries on the basis that the salary being offered does not cover my basic living expenses.

    What would be some helpful guidelines in a situation like this? I believe that there are often many young men in my position as well who would benefit from some insight here.


  2. If money is the motivation, then clearly one is in the wrong field.

    I am a evangelism consultant. I need to earn a living. I do have a minimum charge for me to leave my home and family. The amount I charge is the price necessary for me to sustain my business of helping churches.

    Does my fee rule out small churches? Yes and no.

    Yes, because they can’t afford me as a single church.

    No, because they can group together several churches to make it happen.

    If I was a pastor taking a salaried position, on the human side of the discernment question, I’d look for a place that would make sure reasonable needs are covered. I wouldn’t go into debt to subsidize a ministry that couldn’t afford what is a reasonable living wage for that area.

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