We have the vision, the qualifications, the affirmation of those who give oversight to our lives and the right motivation to do those things called fivefold ministry (see earlier blogs in this “Fivefold Ministry” series). Now the big questions is, how do we finance it?
It is easy if you are a pastor and leader a local church; you have a constant flow of finances called “tithes” from which to draw and build. But what if you are not employed full-time in a local church but travel trans-locally in a number of churches and nations, then what?
This is the reason why there are many leaders with one of the fivefold gifts leading churches when they really are not called to do it. They lead churches because it is the easiest way to finance their ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. They are not fulfilled at it, and may not have the governmental calling to lead, but it is one of the only mechanisms in place that currently works.
These men know that if they want to step down from leading the local church, their finances would dry up. Sometimes this even leads to fivefold ministers laying down their call. They still have the call and the anointing and gifts for that call; they just do not have a clue on how to make a living whole doing it. So, they simply don’t do it.
This is not an easy questions to answer nor is it one to take lightly. If we truly want to see the fivefold ministry released in today’s Church, we must figure out how to finance these individuals. Obviously when someone is leading a local church, the pressures of ministry can be greater and more demanding than someone who is a fivefold minister attending the local congregation and ministering trans-locally. But fivefold ministers have bills to pay just like everyone else. They need gas for their car, food on the table, and even an occasional vacation like others are accustomed to taking.
While we don’t yet have a common answer to this problem, I believe we can at least give some insight that can help get a dialogue started so this whole area can be brought out into the open and discussed.
There is also a certain amount of what I would call “critical mass” that is necessary for someone to be supported full time for fivefold ministry. In other words, for a single church to support a fivefold minister, they would most likely need to be in the mega church size (over a thousand members) to be able to raise the finances – for there to be a substantial amount after salaries and expenses locally to then support in an adequate way a trans-local fivefold minister. To be fully supported in a network of churches, there would need to be a large enough network to supply the finances.
What if we are not a part of a mega church or a large network of churches that can support the fivefold minister? There are other ways. Let’s explore together several different options.
Let’s remember first, that as Christians, we are all in full time ministry whether it is through our business, at our job, in our school, at our home in the neighbourhood or leading a church. Our goal is to share the light of the Gospel of the Kingdom as we go about our daily lives. What is different for each of us is how our financial needs will be met. When a person is involved in ministry as his “job,” like the fivefold minister who is trans-local and therefore cannot have a full time secular or even church ministry job in a community… he still has two financial areas that need to be considered. He has the finances needed to adequately support and live as a family and he has ministry expenses needed to accomplish the ministry to which the Lord has called him full time.
Biblical precedent: Labourers should be supported.
In Bible times, when oxen were driven back and forth over the threshing floor so they could stamp out the grain from the chaff, they were allowed to eat of the fruits of their labours. In some kinds of labour the oxen was muzzled, but Old Testament law required that on the threshing floor, which required repetitious and continuous labour, the oxen should be rewarded. “Do not muzzle an ox while he is treading out the grain” (Deuteronomy 25:4).
Paul quotes this law both in 1 Corinthians 9:9 and 1 Timothy 5:18, showing that God did not appoint it for the sake of the oxen alone, but that every labourer is worthy of his hire. We willingly pay the car mechanic and the doctor for their services, so we should gladly reward those who about for the good of our souls.
1 Corinthians 9:9-14 states, “For it is written in the Law of Moses: Do not muzzle an ox while he is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t He? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest, If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, should’t we have it all the more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.”
It is clear from this passage that Paul believed that those who laboured in the service of God would have competent support. In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul again mentions the analogy between the oxen and the one who labours for the welfare of the Church. Again, he says they should be given sufficient and appropriate recompense so as not to worry about money for their family or their ministry.