Monday, December 14, 2009

the business of church

My little brain has been hopping down its sundry rabbit trails a lot lately, and one of its many trails has been the issue of church and work. It takes work to run a church. People have to work to live. So inevitably the two are merged.

I think we often look to the nation of Israel and the tribe of Levi. They were basically paid employees...church staff. And yet there were other times non-Levites ministered or were tabernacle staff. Samuel comes to my mind, as do all the specialists (the weavers, goldmakers, etc during the building of the temple). With an exception of Samuel, they didn't work for the church full-time, but were either on a contract or volunteer basis for a specific job.

Bobby and I often debate about how much things should cost (or whether there should be a cost) for church materials. For example, my husband thinks music groups who charge people to come hear a performance at a church are wrong. He feels they've violated the whole purpose of the church. He's certainly not opposed to providing an honorarium or taking up a love offering, believing we should do our part to help support believers. He also doesn't want to attend Christmas performances at other churches that require tickets to be bought. He thinks it turns the church into a place of entertainment and not prayer or worship. He has agreed to go to a program where tickets were required for admission due to limited seating and high demand, but the tickets were free.

And we talk a lot about that as it relates to writing or graphic design. There are many things I do in these fields for free, seeing it as a service to God. But there have also been times when I've felt that the time spent on a huge play for a group took way too much of my time. It would have been nice to have received a little compensation for some of that time. I struggle to find the balance between service and slavery.

Sometimes I also wonder if the church paid true value for things (the sound guys, our music man, nursery director, etc), would we eliminate things and be a simple church? For the most part, I think the people in our church do those jobs because they want to do them, even though I'm sure there are days when it seems a chore. But I think of all the jobs the Levites did and how they in turn were cared for, and it makes me wonder if a)I do enough to support the pillars of our church and b)in American society, what is the difference between servanthood and slavery? (Yeah, I know it seems warped to call service to a group slavery, but there are times it seems that way. And I'm not referring just to churches here, but thinking of non-profits as well).

These are just one set of my random thoughts for this morning.

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