The Norm and Para Norm of Ministers Funds

                                         No soldier goes to war at his own expense

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, does not mean we should attempt to do all things, we can do all things yet God gives us specific gifts and places us in specific situations, because we are various parts in the body and the body of Christ can truly be seen as a body; each part affecting every other part and yet each part performing different functions. The Christian (and the Church as a whole) has been noted to have 3 main ministry thrusts;

1. Out-reach (The ministry that focuses on those outside the church; to save them and to influence systems for the Kingdom through crusades, evangelism, missions, preaching’s, prayers, charity and the like that focus on winning the world for Christ)
2. In-reach (The ministry that focuses on other members of the church, the growth and increase of the church through teachings, preaching’s, welfare, prayers and the like focused on the church)
3. Up-reach (Ministering to the Lord, a God focused ministry in worship, communion, fellowship and the like)

Every Christian has all 3 ministries; to reach out, reach in and reach up. You must preach the gospel to unbelievers, you must pursue growth for you and your christian brethren, you must have that personal altar of worship, fellowship and intimacy with God. However for all Christians one of these 3 will be the major focus; you may have the evangelistic calling which demands you to push forward in reaching the unbelievers, but this should not stop you from attending bible study with other believers (In-reach), you may not release a gospel album but that shouldn’t stop you from worshiping and ministering to God (up-reach), the christian business woman may not hold a crusade but that shouldn’t
stop her from preaching to her fellow business woman, and on and on. We all have this ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:20) and in this right can be called ministers of the gospel, ministering in every segment of society from political to academia to business to religious to media to entertainment to the family.

In this article however, I refer in particular to either the Apostle, Prophet, pastor, Evangelist, Teacher and all the accompanying sub offices and ministries whenever I uses the term ‘Minister’. I also use the term ‘secular’ to refer to anything/being not having any connection to faith or just purely physical entities.

The question of ministers and what should be their means of livelihood is one that has plagued most generations of the church, some insist it is wrong for ministers to be paid salaries or given money, that they should also engage in some business or service that will provide direct financial resources to them and not be a sought of leech to other people, and they have always been people who view ministers with suspicion as people who are there simply for money or who have failed in other areas of life and so being lazy and with no other choice enter the ministry or as opportunist who see the religious world as
another business. That they are ministers who are in ministry for some of this purpose is a fact, scriptures tell of this (Matt 7:15, Acts 20:29), but we only have counterfeit money because there is the genuine money. We needs learn what should be the correct biblical perspective we must have on this issue.

If you do not perceive your pastor and other ministers correctly, you will not be able to access a major channel of God’s provision for your life and may hinder the work of the kingdom, for they are given for the building and perfecting of the church that the church should do the work of ministry(Eph 4:12), they watch over your souls(Heb 13:17) and through them God prospers you (2 Chron 20:20), to say just a few things. The bible declares they are worthy of double honour (1 Tim 5:17).

The apostles would not be distracted by doing physical laborious work so they could fully engage themselves in the ministry of the Word and Prayer (Acts 6:4). Our post-modern society has blurred our view on the import of spiritual matters and training. True prayers is never a waste of time, the staying on the scriptures in study, meditation and prayers is itself a ministry, and it is work.

1 Cor 9: 4 Have we not power to eat and to drink?
5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? {wife: or, woman}
6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
The norm in the christian faith is that ministers do not take up a secular job or business for the purpose of their livelihood because God’s provision for the ministers livelihood are the people he ministers to, the minister is to work in the ministry of the Word and Prayer and supply to the people the things lacking (1 Thes 3:10) in their faith and they should supply to the minister the things lacking in his body.
The picture is that of the body working together as one, while the heart can not carry the physical load the hands can, it pumps to the hand the blood it needs to function and the hand works and gets the means by which the heart is nourished with nutrients from food. Even Jesus needs was ministered to by the people he ministered to (Luke 8:2,3) and He received it.

                            An abnormal challenge demands an abnormal approach to solve it

But this is not always the case:
1 Cor 9:4,5: Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things…

Bro Paul apart from his ministerial activities is also known as a tent maker (Acts 20:33-35), we quickly note that while Paul did work secular jobs on the side in some occasions he did not do so everywhere or every time or with every people, we also note he did receive financial support from certain churches (2 Cor 11:8,9, Phil 4:16). So why did Paul prefer not to receive anything from these churches but to rather even leave his calling temporarily and engage secular work:
 Not to be a burden to a church already too burdened-2 cor 11:9
 Because of the working of false apostles and a troubled church – 2 Cor 11:19,20
 It is sufficiently evident that there were persons at Corinth who questioned the apostleship of Paul; and he was obliged to walk very circumspectly that they might not find any occasion against him.(1cor 9:1. Commentay ACC)
 Now he accommodated himself to the prejudices of men, in order to bring about their salvation (1 Cor 9:19-23, Commentary ACC)
 Paul told the Corinthian church that the reason he didn’t collect from them not to give a chance to evil people looking for one. They were false apostles who had entered the Corinthian church after the departure of Paul, who took advantage of the people and robbed them (2 Cor 11:12).

There is always the normal pattern by which things are to be done, but every once in a while another pattern is needful, a woman should deliver normally but we see cases of Cesarean Section, the normal pattern of pregnancy is a male and a female but we saw a para normal (abnormal) situation where the lady Mary without a male became pregnant (more said on the norm and para norm of faith). Paul according to the normal pattern received support for his ministry but when he faced abnormal situations
where receiving such support from certain churches may hinder the ministry and the lack of such support would hinder the ministry, he worked with his own hands that the ministry would continue and not suffer loss. The goal is the expansion of the kingdom and Paul knew this, so whether by men with wrong motives (Phil 1:15-18) or by him taking a different role for a while as long as the gospel was preached, he pursued it.
It’s noteworthy that while Bro Paul did not receive financial support from the Corinthian church he however received from the Philippian Church (Phil 4:15-17) stating the importance of their giving that fruit may abound to their account and even asking personal favours from individuals (Philemon 20-22), interestingly Paul would at the tail of his letter apologize to the Corinthian church for not receiving from them, calling it a wrong he had done them (2 cor 12:13). It is important to note that some ministers who work secular jobs do not work for a livelihood but for the sake of ministry, like missionaries who may enter an otherwise closed society with business/schooling
being the platform from which they can do ministry, sometimes secular work is the platform for ministry.

Every minister is called uniquely based on the unique work God would have him/her do, it is that particular pattern the minister should follow.
The Norm: The right to not work a secular job but to receive support (which could come in the form of a salary) from the people he ministers to.
Para Norm: To work on the side, because of the conditions around and disposition of the minister in particular.

1 Cor 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

According to Paul, it’s no big deal for a spiritual leader who blesses people spiritually to gain physical blessings from the people he blesses.
Paul chose not to impose this right of his lest he hindered the gospel because then like today people get skeptical when they hear ministers asking for money and may begin questioning the minister and the gospel he preached (sometimes because of bad previous experiences or lack of understanding of these things), so he would for the sake of the gospel suffer and endure all the things that would come lest the gospel should be hindered.

Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 1 Cor 9:14

It’s a principle, where you devote your time, energy and resource should be were you get your succor, livelihood and rewards from. If you work in a business, the business should pay your bills, if you work among humanity, humanity should pay your bills. That’s why people who work with charities which help Orphans, widows, social outcasts, homeless, jobless or diseased people should be supported by other people who are better of financially and otherwise. These people work with humanity and their livelihood should come from humanity. Christians are of a generous spirit and you should give to
person/project in need, simply because the person/project is in need, so also it is right to give to a man of God simply because he is a man of God.
But this is not always the case, the increasingly selfish culture of many and hedonistic lifestyle modeled on today’s television blind people to the deep needs of those around them and blocks their wells of compassion when they do see, many noble charities and NGO’S have stopped functioning because of a lack of funds while on the other side of the street lives the party boy who spends millions of dollars weekly to satisfy his vain desires. Wealth doesn’t get destroyed it gets circulated. Therefore many such organizations have to develop some business in order to stay afloat. While this give for many advantages,
it also subtly distracts the core purpose of the establishment, it may have to spend time it would otherwise have used in finding more displaced orphaned kids to setting up and maintaining the business. Christians are of a generous spirit and you should give to a good work/project simply because it is a good work to be done.
Likewise the ministry, time that might ordinarily be used for ministry may now have to be given to a business, some might even suggest that this was why God allowed Paul to be imprisoned so many times; because we know most of the epistles written to the churches he wrote in the prison, where he could not have been busy tent making and he was being fed as a prisoner. While this might be possible, it would be an indictment on the body of believers around Paul. Must the minister suffer loss as a minister that others may be blessed, when God has made a way of mutual blessing? Christians are of a generous
spirit, you should give to a preacher, simply because he is a preacher (2 Kings 4:8-11) and you should give to your pastor, because he is your pastor.

The gospel is without charge, and should be proclaimed so. The opposite of the extreme where Christians do not give to those who preach as ministers is when preachers do not preach except they are given or when they preach for the purpose of being given, not only does this taint the gospel they preach (such that they twist scriptures falsely for their bellies: Rom 16:17,18, Phil 3:18,19), it taints the image of the true gospel among the unlearned and even before the world. Preachers must then not abuse their power in the gospel.

Our world, like Paul’s is a mixture of both normal and abnormal circumstance, and may warrant the normal pattern or a para normal pattern, the great aim is that this gospel reach all the ends of the earth, for our God is able to save whether with a few or with many.

…there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few. I Sam 14:6


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