Paid ministers or not?

Are ministers supposed to be paid or not? What does Jesus say about this?

Here, he is sending out his disciples, giving them instructions.

Matthew 10:7-10
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons: freely ye received, freely give. 9 Get you no gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses; 10 no wallet for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor staff: for the laborer is worthy of his food.

So they received freely, so they should give freely. Got it. So they should heal people for free, because that was a gift they received for free.

Then they are told to take no money with them, not even taking a wallet or extra provisions. People are supposed to give them what they need, because “the laborer is worthy of his food.” Some translations say “the worker is worthy of his keep” so it isn’t just about food, but everything. So that sounds like they should take what is offered to them as their salary.

But what about a minister who has special training? What if he had to go to school to learn, and has thousands of dollars of debt because of that? Was that freely received? Should he expect a salary or a stipend?

Ministers have to eat, and have shelter, just like everybody else. So what should they do?

Not worry, because God knows what we need.
8 Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matthew 6:8)

We are not to store up anything.
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: (Matthew 6:19)

Ultimately, we are to not worry about anything, because God will provide.

25 Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? 26 Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? 28 And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Jesus lived like this – not in a fancy house, but homeless. He gave thanks for whatever he was given. He didn’t ask for anything, and trusted that God would provide. This too is part of being a minister, a disciple, a follower of Jesus. If we are to truly follow him, we are to live like him.

Matthew 8:19-20
19 And there came a scribe, and said unto him, Teacher, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

(All Bible translations are ASV, which is public domain)

What is the Church?

Let us look at what Jesus meant when he came to build his Church. When he was speaking to his disciples, he asked them who they thought he was.

Matthew 16:15-18
15 He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

The church is built up not of stones, but of everyone who the Holy Spirit reveals the truth to. The foundation of Jesus’ church was a human being.

After Jesus threw out the money changers in the Temple, the Jewish authorities challenged him. He turned around the idea of what the Temple is.

John 2:19-21
19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 The Jews therefore said, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou raise it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

At Jacob’s well, speaking with the Samaritan woman, he told about how God is to be worshipped everywhere, not in a particular place. The Samaritan woman is talking in the first verse.

John 4:20-24
20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father. 22 Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

We are not to amass money.

Matthew 19:21
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wouldest be perfect, go, sell that which thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

Matthew 6:19-21
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.

So church isn’t a building, or a place. It is us. We, the believers who have had the truth of Jesus revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, are to worship God in spirit and truth, wherever we are. We aren’t to spend our money to build cathedrals with gold and stained glass windows. We are to glorify God by our service to God’s children, our neighbors.