Welfare Churches

Welfare Churches

Dr. Earl D. Jessup

“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the os that treadeth out the corn. And, the labourer is worthy of his reward.” 1 Timothy 5:17-18

Sometime ago, I pastor challenged me to write an article about churches that are not willing to pay their pastor. Helping churches reproduce churches brings this problem to the forefront more so than for the average person involved in ministry. We see it because we are involved with these new churches and their pastors. Most of the time, these new pastors raise their support from other churches in order to cover their personal expenses for the early years of the new church. This is very helpful in getting the new church off to a good start. We should be thankful for churches willing to help these pastors and new churches.

However, sometimes this causes a problem for the new church. When the church family sees that their pastor is being taken care of by other churches, they do not respond by giving to meet his needs. They assume that the other churches will continue to support the pastor and they don’t give as they should. When this happens the church may develop a poor pattern of giving that could be difficult to overcome. This can create a welfare mentality in the church. They become dependent upon other churches to trust God rather than trust God themselves to meet the needs of their church.

Sometimes this problem is created by the church planter himself. When he raises his support, it is raised for an indefinite timeframe. There is no limit on the length of time the support will be given for the new pastor. Because of this, the pastor is in no hurry to build a congregation that will give enough to cover his family’s needs. This can result in laziness in the new pastor because there is no rush for the church to support him. He is getting his support from other churches with no end is sight and he becomes undisciplined in his schedule because he has no one getting him out to work everyday. It becomes easy to sit at home, help his wife, help the children with their schoolwork and let things get in the way of building the ministry. Preachers with character will let their ministry dictate their schedule rather than letting their desires dictate their schedule.

It doesn’t have to be this way for either the pastor or the church. First of all, the reproducing pastor should not allow a young man that is not disciplined in his personal life to plant a church. If he cannot carry out his duties with a boss he sure won’t be able to carry out his duties when he is the boss. There won’t be someone waiting to see if he is in the office on time when he is planting a church. There won’t be someone to set his schedule and checks to see if the work is completed. Secondly, the support raised for a church planter should be incrementally decreased each year. This will help both the pastor and the church. The pastor will be helped because he will understand that he must get out and reach enough people so the church can take on a portion of his support each year. The church will be helped because the church will understand that their pastor will need the income from the church. This will help everyone walk by faith, trusting God to meet the needs.

Churches should be taught to care for their pastor from the beginning days of the new church. The pastor can have the reproducing pastor come to a men’s meeting and teach his men about their responsibility for caring for the needs of the pastor and the church. This will take some of the “heat” off the new pastor and give the church family a good understanding that will keep them from becoming a “welfare church” depending on the support of other churches to meet their needs.

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