Tithing? What is it?

Although this was a years long process one of the events that triggered my exit from the institutional church was the latest sermon on tithing that my pastor was about to preach.  This teaching has been a thorn in my brain for years.  I had my thoughts and had been studying the topic for years and I could no longer support a ministry that “pushed” it.

I have entered into a discussion with someone about it and thought it was timely to blog about it.  BUT instead of inventing the wheel, I found a post by Frank Viola (www.frankviola.org) that lays it out there so clearly (albeit, sometimes, bluntly!)  So, without further ado, here is Frank’s blog on tithing.

WARNING!  It’s a long one.  Enjoy!!!

Tithing and Clergy Salaries
by Frank Viola

Article copied exactly as printed from source:
http://www.ptmin.org/tithing.htm

Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit.
-Paul of Tarsus

Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, `How do we rob you? ‘ In tithes and offerings. You are under curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’

This passage from Malachi Chapter 3 seems to be many a pastor’s favorite Bible text. Especially when church giving is at low tide. If you have spent any time in the modern church, you have heard this passage thundered from the pulpit on numerous occasions. I have had it pushed down my throat so many times I have lost count.

Consider some of the rhetoric that goes with it:

“God has commanded you to faithfully give your tithes. If you do not tithe, you are robbing God Almighty, and you put yourself under a curse.”

“Let’s repeat the ‘Tither ‘s Creed’ together shall we? `The tithe is the Lord’s. In truth we learned it. In faith we believe it. In joy we give it. The tithe!'”

“Your tithes and offerings are necessary if God’s work will go on!” (“God’s work,” of course, means salarying the pastoral staff and footing the monthly electric bill to keep the building afloat.)

What is the result of this sort of pressure? God’s people are guilted into giving one-tenth of their incomes every week. When they do, they feel they have made God happy. And they can expect Him to bless them financially. When they fail, they feel they are being disobedient, and a financial curse looms over them.

But let us take a few steps backward and ask the penetrating question: “Does the Bible teach us to tithe? And … are we spiritually obligated to fund the pastor and his staff? ”

The answer to these two questions is shocking. (If you are a pastor, it is arresting. So you may want to take out your heart medicine now!)

Is Tithing Biblical?

Tithing does appear in the Bible. So yes, tithing is Biblical. But it is not Christian. The tithe belongs to ancient Israel. It was essentially their income tax. Never do you find first-century Christians tithing in the NT.

Most Christians do not have the foggiest idea about what the Bible teaches regarding the tithe. So let us look at it. The word “tithe” simply means the tenth part.’ The Lord instituted three kinds of tithes for Israel as part of their taxation system. They are:

·         A tithe of the produce of the land to support the Levites who had no inheritance in Canaan.’

·         A tithe of the produce of the land to sponsor religious festivals in Jerusalem. If the produce was too burdensome for a family to carry to Jerusalem, they could convert it into money.’

·         A tithe of the produce of the land collected every third year for the local Levites, orphans, strangers, and widows.’

This was the Biblical tithe. Notice that God commanded Israel to give 23.3% of their income every year, as opposed to 10%.6 These tithes consisted of the produce of the land—which is, the seed of the land, the fruit of the land, and the herd or the flock. It was the product of the land, not money.

A clear parallel can be seen between Israel’s tithing system and the modern taxation system present in America. Israel was obligated to support their national workers (priests), their holidays (festivals), and their poor (strangers, widows, and orphans) by their annual tithes. Most modern tax systems serve the same purpose.

With the death of Jesus, all ceremonial, governmental, and religious codes that belonged to the Jews were nailed to His cross and buried . . . never to come out again to condemn us. For this reason, we never see Christians tithing in the NT. No more than we see them sacrificing goats and bulls to cover their sins!

Paul writes, “And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross . . . Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”‘

Tithing belonged exclusively to Israel under the Law. When it comes to financial stewardship, we see the first-century saints giving cheerfully according to their ability—not dutifully out of a command.’ Giving in the early church was voluntary.’ And those who benefited from it were the poor, orphans, widows, sick, prisoners, and strangers.10

I can hear someone making the following objection right now: “But what about Abraham? He lived before the Law. And we see him tithing to the high priest Melchizedek.” Does this not overturn your argument that the tithe is part of the Mosaic Law? ”

No it does not. First, Abraham’s tithe was completely voluntary. It was not compulsory. God did not command it as He did with the tithe for Israel.

Second, Abraham tithed out of the spoils that he acquired after a particular battle he fought. He did not tithe out of his own regular income or property. Abraham’s act of tithing would be akin to you winning the lottery, a mega jackpot, or receiving a work-bonus, then tithing it.

Third, and most important, this is the only time that Abraham tithed out of his 175 years of life on this earth. We have no evidence that he ever did such a thing again. Consequently, if you wish to use Abraham as a “proof text” to argue that Christians must tithe, then you are only obligated to tithe one time!’2

This brings us back to that oft-quoted text in Malachi 3. What was God saying there? First, this passage was directed to ancient Israel when they were under the Mosaic Law. God’s people were holding back their tithes and offerings. Consider what would happen if a large portion of Americans refused to pay their income taxes. American law views this as robbery.13 Those found guilty would be punished for stealing from the government.

In the same way, when Israel held back her taxes (tithes), she was stealing from God—the One who instituted the tithing system. The Lord then commanded His people to bring their tithes into the storehouse. The storehouse was located in the chambers of the temple. The chambers were set apart to hold the tithes (which was produce, not money) for the support of the Levites, the poor, the strangers, and the widows.14

Notice the context of Malachi-3:8-10: In verse 5, the Lord says that He will judge those who oppress the widow, the fatherless, and the stranger. He says, “So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be a quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me.”

The widows, fatherless, and strangers were the rightful re­cipients of the tithe. Because Israel was withholding her tithes, she was guilty of oppressing these three groups. Herein is the heart of God in Malachi 3:8-10: Oppression to the poor.

How many times have you heard preachers point this out when they harangued you with Malachi 3? Out of the scores of sermons I have heard on tithing, I never once heard a whisper about what the passage was actually talking about. That is, tithes were for the purpose of supporting the widows, the fatherless, the strangers, and the Levites (who owned nothing). This is what the Lord’s word in Malachi 3 has in view.

The Origin of the Tithe and the Clergy Salary

Cyprian (200-258) is the first Christian writer to mention the practice of financially supporting the clergy. He argued that just as the Levites were supported by the tithe, so the Christian clergy.

should be supported by the tithe.15 But this is misguided thinking. Today, the Levitical system has been abolished. We are all priests now. So if a priest demands a tithe, then all Christians should tithe to one another! Cyprian’s plea was exceedingly rare for his time. It was neither picked up nor echoed by the Christian populace until much later.16 Other than Cyprian, no Christian writer before Constantine ever used Old Testament references to advocate tithing.” It was not until the fourth century, 300 years after Christ, that some Christian leaders began to advocate tithing as a Christian practice to support the clergy.18 But it did not become widespread among Christians until the eighth century! 19 According to one scholar, “For the first seven hundred years they [tithes] are hardly ever mentioned. “20

Charting the history of Christian tithing is a fascinating exercise. Tithing evolved from the State to the church. Giving a tenth of one’s produce was the customary rent-charge for lands that were leased in Western Europe. As the church increased its ownership of land across Europe, the 10% rent-charge was given to the church. This gave the 10% rent-charge a new meaning. It came to be identified with the Levitical tithe!21 Consequently, the Christian tithe as an institution was based on a fusion of Old Testament practice and pagan institution.22

By the eighth century, the tithe became required by law in many areas of Western Europe.23 By the end of the tenth century, the distinction of the tithe as a rent-charge and a moral requirement supported by the Old Testament had faded.24 The tithe became mandatory throughout Christian Europe.25

To put it another way, before the eighth century the tithe was practiced as a voluntary offering.26 But by the end of the tenth century, it had devolved into a legal requirement to fund the State church—demanded by the clergy and enforced by the secular authorities!27

Thankfully, most modern churches have done away with the tithe as a legal requirement.28 But the practice of tithing is as much alive today as it was when it was legally binding. Sure, you may not be physically punished if you fail to tithe. But if you are not a tither in most modern churches, you will be barred from a slew of ministry positions. And you will be forever guilted from the pulpit!29

As far as clergy salaries go, ministers were unsalaried for the first three centuries. But when Constantine appeared, he instituted the practice of paying a fixed salary to the clergy from church

funds and municipal and imperial treasuries.30 Thus was born the clergy salary, a harmful practice that has no root in the NT.31

The Root of All Evil

If a believer wishes to tithe out of personal decision or conviction, that is fine. Tithing becomes a problem when it is rep-resented as God’s command, binding upon every believer.

Mandatory tithing equals oppression to the poor.32 Not a few poor Christians have been thrown headlong into further poverty because they have been told that if they do not tithe, they are robbing God.33 When tithing is taught as God’s command, Christians who can barely make ends meet are guilted into deeper poverty. In this way, tithing evacuates the gospel from being “good news to the poor.”34 Rather than good news, it becomes a heavy burden. Instead of liberty, it becomes oppression. We are so apt to forget that the original tithe that God established for Israel was to benefit the poor, not hurt them!

Conversely, modern tithing is good news to the rich. To a high-earner, 10% is but a paltry sum. Tithing, therefore, appeases the consciences of the rich, while it has no significant impact on their lifestyles. Not a few wealthy Christians are deluded into thinking they are “obeying God” because they throw a measly 10% of their income into the offering plate.

But God has a very different view of giving. Recall the parable of the widow’s mite: “Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. `I tell you the truth, ‘ He said, `this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Sadly, tithing is often viewed as a litmus test for discipleship. If you are a good Christian, you will tithe (so it is thought). But this is a bogus application. Tithing is no sign of Christian devotion. If it were, all first-century Christians would be condemned as being undevoted!

The lingering root behind the sustained push for tithing in the modern church is the clergy salary. Not a few pastors feel that they must preach tithing to remind their congregation of its obligation to support them and their programs. And they will use the promise of financial blessing or the fear of a financial curse to ensure that the tithes keep rolling in.

In this way, modern tithing is the equivalent of a Christian lottery. Pay the tithe, and God will give you more money in return. Refuse to tithe, and God will punish you. Such thoughts rip at the heart of the good news of the gospel.

The same can be said about the clergy salary. It too has no NT merit. In fact, the clergy salary runs against the grain of the entire New Covenant.36 Elders (shepherds) in the first century were never salaried.37 They were men with an earthly vocation.38 They gave to the flock rather than took from it.39

Salarying pastors makes them paid professionals. It elevates them above the rest of God’s people. It creates a clerical caste that turns the living Body of Christ into a business. Since the pastor and his staff are “paid” to do ministry—they are the paid professionals. The rest of the church lapses into a state of passive dependence.

If every Christian got in touch with the call that lies upon them to be functioning priests in the Lord’s house (and they were permitted to exercise that call), the question would immediately arise: “What on earth are we paying our pastor for!? ”

But in the presence of a passive priesthood, such questions never arise.40 On the contrary, when the church functions as she should, a professional clergy becomes unnecessary. Suddenly, the thought that says, “that is the job of the pastor” looks heretical. Put simply, a professional clergy fosters the pacifying illusion that the Word of God is classified (and dangerous) material that only card-carrying experts can handle.41

But that is not all. Paying a pastor forces him to be a man-pleaser. It makes him the slave of men. His meal-ticket is attached to how well his congregation likes him. Thus he is not free to speak freely without the fear that he may lose some heavy tithers. Herein lies the scourge of the pastor system.

A further peril of the paid pastor system is that it produces men who are void of any skill—something we inherited from the pagan Greeks.42 For this reason, it takes a man of tremendous courage to step out of the pastorate.

Unfortunately, most of God’s people are deeply naive about the overwhelming power of the pastor system. It is a faceless system that does not tire of chewing up and spitting out its young.43 Again, God never intended the professional pastorate to exist. There is no Scriptural mandate or justification for such a thing. In fact, it is impossible to construct a Biblical defense for it.44

Most frequently, ushers are called upon to handle the reception of the money during the church service. Typically, they do so by passing a “collection plate” to the congregation. The practice of passing the collection plate is another post-apostolic invention. It began in 1662. Although alms dishes and alms chests were present before then.45

The usher originated from Queen Elizabeth I’s (1533-1603) reorganization of the liturgy of the church of England. Ushers had the job of seeing where the people sat, collecting the offering, and keeping records of who took communion. The predecessor of the usher is the church “porter.” The porter was a minor order (lesser clergy) tracing back to the third century.46 Porters had the duty of superintending lock up and opening of church doors, keeping order in the building, and the general direction of the deacons.47 Porters were replaced by “churchwardens” in England before and during the Reformation period.48 Out of the churchwarden grew the usher.

Conclusion

In conclusion, tithing, while Biblical, is not Christian. Jesus Christ did not affirm it. The first-century Christians did not observe it. And for 300 years, God’s people did not practice it. Tithing did not become a widely accepted practice among Chris­tians until the eighth century!

Giving in the NT was according to one’s ability. Christians gave to help other believers as well as to support apostolic workers, enabling them to travel and plant churches.49 One of the most outstanding testimonies of the early church has to do with how liberal the Christians were to the poor and needy.50 This is what provoked outsiders, including the philosopher Galen, to watch the awesome, winsome power of the early church and say: “Behold how they love one another. “51

Tithing is only mentioned four times in the NT. But none of these instances applies to Christians.52 Again, tithing belongs to the Old Testament era where a taxation system was needed to support the poor and where a special priesthood was set apart to minister to the Lord. With the coming of Jesus Christ, there has been a “change of law”—the old has been “set aside” and rendered obsolete by the new.53

We are all priests now—free to function in God’s house. The Law, the old priesthood, and the tithe have all been crucified. There is now no temple curtain, no temple tax, and no special priesthood that stands between God and man. You, dear Christian, have been set free from the bondage of tithing and from the obligation to support an unbiblical clergy system.

This article has been excerpted from Frank Viola’s book Pagan Christianity: The Origins of Our Modern Church Practices. The original chapter contains 53 footnotes supporting the statements in the article. You may order the book at: http://www.ptmin.org/pagan.htm

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Opinions: Everyone Has One

We’ve all heard it said it’s best to stay away from topics like religion, and politics.  I’ve always wondered why we would want to avoid two of the topics that impact our lives (arguably) the most.  Well now I get it.

I’m finding that, as I’ve written my observations and opinions, it’s easy to start holding back when speaking about topics related to my blog.  There has been some positive feedback.  However, the negative feedback has tended to be personal in nature.  As a result I’ve succumbed to the temptation of keeping my thoughts to myself. Well, I am not going to do that anymore.  After all, this blog is Confessions of a Former Worship Leader.  That’s who I am and that’s what I intend to do…confess….

From my years (and tears) as a worship leader I have many observations.

Here they come!

Extreme Christianity or “Still, small voice…”

 Is it possible that the practice of Evangelical Christianity, in our time and culture, can be considered an extreme sport?  What the heck am I talking about?!  Here’s what I mean.

There is strong chemistry that addicts us to extreme sports.  Ask a sky diver or a marathon runner.  They feel most alive when they are engaging in their sport.  Every extreme sports enthusiast craves the next high they get as they are scaling a mountain wall, or base jumping.  Don’t you feel a rush of adrenalin when you engage in a new or even risky activity? 

I’m no expert but I have read that the latest research shows that a specific region of the brain is stimulated when we experience new and unusual activities and acquire new and unusual things.  Also, dopamine release can be affected.  This contributes to a sense of well-being and/or euphoria.  This is a major contributing factor to addictions like gambling, drug addiction, and sex addiction.  I also believe this is a driving factor in why porn addiction can be so tenacious and all consuming.

As I was pondering the emotional highs of a “worship service” it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, there was a connection.  That maybe I was engaging in the same type of activity with my “practice” of Christianity.  What does this look like? 

During my many memories of being in bands, worship teams and just plain doing worship ministry my motives, and I’m sure the motives of most, were, and are pure (although is it possible for humans to have 100% pure motives?)  But I have had nagging questions about our practice of Christianity my whole life.  So…

Food for thought:

Every week, in many evangelical churches (especially “seeker-sensitive” churches), much time and care goes into making the Sunday morning “worship service” as impacting as possible.  This entails choosing the right music, the right words, and the right order of service (although in most churches this is pretty much set in stone).  If “the Spirit moves”, the congregation has been impacted in a strong, emotional way.  If not, there is disappointment and a push to get it right the next time.  Come Monday the “high” from Sunday’s powerful service is waning and the attender can’t wait for the next Sunday to get back “on the mountain top.” 

I have been there…on both ends.  I have seen the prayers and the planning, the emotional highs and lows, the mid-week desire to make it to Sunday.  I’ve seen it in myself and many Christians I know.  Is it wrong to want to experience God in a powerful way?  Is it wrong for our emotions to be affected by our love for God?  Is it possible that we have become addicted to these emotional experiences?  If the experience is not powerful enough (producing enough endorphins?) do we believe our experience wasn’t filled with the Holy Spirit?  I have come to believe that there’s a thin line between experiencing God and having an emotional religious experience. I don’t pretend to know where that line is for anyone else but myself.

So, I am detoxing from the “highs” of emotionally charged religious experiences and learning to listen to the “still small voice” of God.  I am learning that my purpose in life is nothing more (and nothing less) than loving God and loving people.  THIS is the most significant call that God has on my life.   If the world doesn’t pay much attention and only a few people are affected by my “call” that’s more than enough for me.  I’m learning how to not be defined by what I do (sing, play an instrument, etc) and to be ok with just being me. 

It’s very liberating…and satisfying.

Birds and flowers…

It’s spring, almost summer, and I’m reminded that seasons come and seasons go.  I remember that we have little control over our circumstances AND people. It’s refreshing to know that God has everything under control.  He’s not surprised by anything we say or do.  He’s not caught off guard by any circumstance we find ourselves in or any choices that we make.  It’s also a mystery why bad things happen in view of these thoughts, but that’s a topic for another blog by another blogger!

He IS compassionate and understands our “plight” as humans in this harsh world.  I’m getting a fresh view of his love and grace towards all mankind.

I’m reminded that all creation is His.  Including everyone around me.  I’m also reminded that each of us has our own path.  My path may, and probably does, look different than your path but that’s the beauty of how He works.  Wasn’t it Jesus who said those who are led by the Holy Spirit are like the wind?  It’s hard to pinpoint where the wind comes from or where it’s going.  Just like how He works in us if we let him.

 

The hard part for me is being quiet enough to listen!

It’s an amazing thing that this highly personal journey we are all on is, at the same time, so intensely corporate.

What a mystery.

Celebrate or Mourn? Or Both?

I have tried my best to be happy.  I do not WANT to be sad, but I am.  I want to celebrate like everyone else, but I’m not in a celebratory state of mind. 

I’m sad.  Really sad.  Heartbroken, really.

I’m sad that thousands lost their lives on 9/11. 

I’m sad that thousands more lives were destroyed as a result.

I’m sad that nothing in this life can ever make up for that.  I only hope that the families and loved ones of those who were murdered can find SOME sense of peace through the death of an enemy.

I’m still sad.

I’m sad that because torture was used to gain the vital last piece of information to find Bin Laden some will now believe torture is a justified method for our government to use when needed.  I’ve already heard the arguments. 

I’m sad that even Christians are applauding this.  I understand the need for justice. 

I’m still sad.

I’m sad that the first pieces of news we received were concerning a “military action”, a “firefight”, and Bin Laden was killed as a result.  The latest news is that 24 elite (and honorable) men landed IN his compound, pretty much unchallenged because Bin Laden was used to hearing military helicopters flying overhead due to the fact that he was less than a mile from a Pakistani military base.  We landed and fought our way to his bedroom.  His wife rushed the men and was shot in the leg.  Osama was shot once in the chest and once above the left eye.  They were both unarmed.  I can’t help but think there was going to be no possibility or opportunity to surrender even if he wanted to.  (I have heard, however, that in the past he vowed he would NOT surrender, but will die instead.)

So what!?  He was an evil man!  He was a monster!  He was a murderer!

I’m still sad!  I hate that!

I’m sad that my kids know that targeted killings have been universally condemned…(well, in most cases) and now they know it can be justified.  Here’s an article that addresses this.   http://www.hudson-ny.org/2093/targeted-killing-vindicated .  Not sure what I think about the conclusion of the article but it’s worth reading.

I’m sad that Martin Luther King Jr.’s words are forgotten….”Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  The hate that drove Bin Laden still drives MANY like him.  His second in command is our next target.  Secretary Clinton vowed to continue in this same manner.  I get it.  But I’m still sad!

I’m sad that I’ve heard Christians say, “Kill ALL the bad guys.”

I’m sad that those who feel the same are ridiculed and derided.

I am sad that the need for justice can turn so easily into a cry for revenge and an acceptance of actions we would never justify in the past.

I WISH I was happy.  I WISH I bring myself to celebrate.  But…

I’m sad.  Heartbroken, really.

“Oxes and laborers…” or “double honor”

I have to admit I have felt “called” to worship ministry since about 1980.  This was way before I knew that in some churches accross the land worship leaders get paid.  I would not have even considered that I could make  a living out of it.  It was a passion, not a career path.  Most worship leaders I know (if not all) would say the same thing.  It’s not about the money, it’s about the calling.

Later in my 20’s my buddies and I had many debates/discussions/struggles about whether or not a “Christian musician/band” should get paid.  We always played out of a desire to serve, but in the back of our minds it sure would have been great if we, at least, got reimbursed for our trouble (i.e. gas, food, lodging).  At the same time if we played in “secular” venues, pay was expected and even maybe demanded.  Interesting dichotomy.

So, I formulated my Theology of Pay.  This was a subconsious formulation for the most part, but nonetheless, it was there.  I used the principals of the Tribe of Levi in the old testament.  This tribe was, among other things, tasked with the music of the culture.  This music was used to inspire praise in worship and courage in battle.  This tribe was not allowed to own land or take up other jobs so the Jewish Tithe was used to support them.  The thought is we (Christian musicians and worship leaders) held a similar function so should also receive pay for our “services”.

The other principal comes from Paul’s letter to Timothy his co-minister in the New Testament.  He tells Timothy to that elders in the church (technically, older, wiser Christians) are to receive “double honor” because of their faithful service.  In our minds we took the phrase “double-honor” to mean “double-pay”.

The thought was “We are ministers who labor well.  Just like the Levites and the elders in the New Testament, we should get paid.  If Paul was talking about the Pastor in his letter to Timothy, he was also, surely speaking about Worship Pastors.  And if Worship Pastors, why not Worship Leaders AND worship/christian bands”

I have received pay for Worship Leading and I have served with no pay.  Some of my friends believe I didn’t get paid nearly enough when I DID get paid.  As usual, when money gets involved things can get a little weird…i.e. “who’s making more”…”I need a raise!”…”I’m not valued becaues I’m not getting paid at all”…

Two points:

Levites – We are not a Jewish Tribe.  We are not Ancient Israel.  We do not function like the Jewish Religion.  It is a little dishonest to pick and choose which parts of the Jewish Religion we choose to live by.  We don’t stone people.  We don’t sacrifice animals.  We don’t want to live like the Levites, so why should we get paid like them.

Paul’s letter to Timothy – There is a reason why “double honor” (word for honor is “timees”) is never translated as wage.  There are better Greek words to use if “pay” was meant.  However the word for honor (timees) is used dozens of times in the New Testament.  It is NEVER used to indicate “wage”.  It is used as “honor” or “value”.

Since Paul uses the word, “timees”, many times in this letter to mean honor there is nor room to use Paul’s statements to Timothy to mean “wage” or “salary”.

So, is pay for Worship Leaders/Worship Teams/Christian Bands, supported biblically?

I no longer think so.

Is it evil or a sin for the same to get paid?

In my opinion no.

A couple of thoughts…

When money is involved in any endeavor motives can be affected and thinking can get clouded.

Also, as stated in another blog entry, and in my opinion, the “position” Worship Leader/Worship Pastor/Song Leader has little to no scriptural support.  As such any theology supporting actually paying this “position” fails at the root.

What think you?

Differences of opinion are more than welcome!

“What COULD be…” or “It’s a family affair….”

The doorbell rings.  Good the last of the expected guests has arrived.  All of my friends and a few guests are here.  There’s a lot of positive energy in the room because we all love to get together as often as we can.  Mostly it’s once a week, but on the rare occasion we get to squeeze in an extra day.

As I look around the two rooms we are spread out in little groups of people.  I see some people simply chatting about events in their lives.  I see a few praying for each other.  I even see one or two who seem a little upset.  These are being cared for by those who have a special gift for comforting people.

Conversation seems to wind down a little and we all sense it’s time to gather in the main room.  As we do Jamie starts singing a favorite song of ours.  We all join in and pretty soon the house is filled with beautiful harmonies.  Our hearts are bursting with joy and love for God and each other.  This song winds down and Steve opens his mouth and sings a song that, apparently, he had just written.  We are inspired by the words and the melody.  After a repetition or two of the chorus we all joined in.  It’s electrifying.

By the time we sing a song or two most of us are sitting.  Jim stood and shares with us what he thinks might be an encouraging message for us all.  Jim’s like that.  He seems to have a gift of bringing a message that is always encouraging.  Before he finishes, Lacey stands up and shares what is on her heart; something she believes God wants us to hear.  But the interruption is seamless and seems orchestrated (although it issn’t).  Her message blends with Jim’s perfectly.

As Lacey finishes speaking, Ron stands and begins speaking.  He speaks for about 15 minutes.  As he speaks we ask questions and compare scripture.  By the time he finishes, we know that we have a better view of who we are and who God is.  We have been taught well.

We all settle into a peaceful quiet.  The meal is ready so we all make our way to the tables where a feast is setup.  As with all of our meals together there was is much joy and conversation.  This is the highlight of our gatherings.  Our main topic of conversation is twofold:  What Jesus has done for us on the cross and His return.  Then we’ll have a bigger and better feast with Him!  It’s always exciting and inspiring to remind each other about that.

After the meal there are still some who need some encouragement and one person who is sick and needs prayer.  Those among us who are especially gifted in these areas take care for them while the rest of us say our farewells.  We remind each other that our brother who established our little fellowship is coming to visit in a few weeks.  It has been a year since we last saw him so we are looking forward to it.  He has some concerns he wanted to speak to us about.

We hug each other and say our goodbyes.

Until next time.

(1st Corinthians 14)