Many are moving away from mandatory financial obligation within religious systems. They are pursuing genuine relational connections within the body of Christ. However, the issue of financial compensation of those who function within the body of Christ in a full-time capacity of Ephesian 4 equippers is a controversial and reactionary topic. There’s currently a standoff of sorts taking place within in the body of Christ. This blog is the first in a four-part series by Loren Rosser and is posted by permission.
Those of you who are fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit certainly recall the riddle standoff between Bilbo and Gollum. Well here’s a riddle for you. (I promise I won’t eat you if you get it wrong.) It weighs very little but weighs much on hearts and minds. It is silent but also speaks volumes. You carry it with you but you can’t take it with you. And the mere mention of it to believers immediately sparks strong reactions and flashbacks associated with words like manipulation, corruption, and control. Give up? It’s money!
It has come to my attention that as was the case with Bilbo and Gollum, there is currently a standoff of sorts taking place within in the body of Christ among those who are moving away from systems of religious obligation towards liberty and genuine relational connections regarding the support of those who function as equippers. I think this is an extremely important issue that needs to be addressed, and Lord willing, resolved.
As we’ve been moving towards greater liberty in Christ many of His followers have been discovering the pure joy of having their burdens lifted. There is currently a growing conversation about helping the poor and the oppressed. However, it is my concern that we are willingly or ignorantly oppressing some of our own brothers and sisters by withholding from them their due and the resources necessary for them to function at the level Father desires.
Before I go any further let me flat out tell you that I am not after a dime of your money. I don’t need it nor do I want it. I’m blessed to have a very good job that more than meets my needs. This article isn’t about me, which is the exact reason I wanted to write it. So often the only people who speak up for the equippers are the equippers themselves. Due to past hurts, wounds, and abuses in the body of Christ, people immediately view them as being self-serving and place them in the same category as the manipulators they encountered in the past. So these men and women go on pouring out their lives for us (because that’s the kind of people they are) and we gladly receive from them or have received from them in the past. Why is it we will gladly receive from them that which is eternal but are often not even willing to reciprocate with that which is temporary (money)?
I can hear many saying, “But aren’t we all equal in the church? We are all brethren! I don’t get paid for functioning in my gifts!”
First of all let me say, neither do I! I podcast regularly, have written numerous articles, produced videos, have spoken to congregations, and have even volunteered my time to feed the poor. And guess what? I didn’t get paid a cent. But you are correct–no part of the body is superior to another. We are all brethren in the body of Christ. We are a family with one Father. This isn’t about equality. It’s about function and necessity. Although I’m very active in encouraging and building up the body of Christ, I don’t have invitations to go to places like Uganda, or people asking me to come equip their groups all over the U.S. as one brother I know who is a prophet currently does. He manages to scrape up enough to go to a few places, but he is unable to function anywhere near the capacity needed to meet the demand simply because the resources aren’t there. The ox has been muzzled. And he’s not alone.
I know of a handful of these people who are genuine equippers in the body who bless and have blessed numerous people and are helping and have helped many come to maturity who are obscenely underfunded to accomplish the work to which they’ve been called. And just so there is no misunderstanding, these equippers aren’t building buildings, trying to start “ministries”, or make names for themselves. They are doing nothing but helping individuals become grounded in Christ.
I can hear some asking, “Well, if God wants them doing these things, like travel and all, why doesn’t He provide for them?” That question actually reminds me of what I call “magical thinking” that I often encountered in my years in charismatic circles. It’s waiting for that check from out of nowhere to appear in the mail box. It’s waiting for God to make money magically appear in your bank account. It’s waiting for God to become our personal genie. It’s waiting for God to do Himself what we’re too darn lazy and selfish to do for others.
Allow me to show you the ridiculousness of that mindset. Do you think Father wanted the African Americans in the United States to be oppressed and excluded from the rest of society? If you know anything about the heart of God then you know the answer is a resounding “No!” Then why didn’t God just make it stop? You know, just magically make a law pass congress ending the oppression. We all know that’s just not reality. He works through people, especially His body. It took a man after His heart, Martin Luther King Jr., to do something about it, God’s way. God doesn’t move magically, He moves through people, His body.
I remember back when I was first moving away from organized religious Christianity hearing believers make statements like, “Just think of all the good we could do without having to pay for all this overhead!” There were ongoing conversations about how shedding all the religious trappings would free up so many resources that could be poured into furthering the gospel around the world, feeding the poor, and so forth. Now, I sit outside the walls of organized religion and I’m scratching my head. I ponder whether those conversations were really about furthering the gospel and helping the poor or if we were really looking for an excuse to close our pocket books. I guess my question is how long are we going to stew in our old wounds and hold back our resources from the kingdom needed to release these equippers? How long are we going to keep justifying muzzling the ox? Do we truly want to see the body of Christ come to maturity and the kingdom advance or is that merely Christian correct terminology?
See, I actually believe this is a divine set up. This season is unlike any other we’ve encountered. What do we value church? That is the 60 million dollar question.
To be continued . . .
Loren Rosser co-hosts the Untangled podcast and has written numerous articles and produced several videos including the award winning Church Outside the Walls series. He has worked in network television for over 17 years and holds a BA in social science from Ashford University in Clinton, IA. http://untangled.podomatic.com/ http://loreends.blogspot.com/ http://familyroommedia.com/
Copyright 2014, Loren Rosser, www.stevecrosby.org. Published here by permission. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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