Ah yes….the hireling issue

In a recent comment under the “Woe unto you hypocrites” post, Becky asked about the hireling question and expressed how she struggles with it. To quote her words:

…there is one thing I still have a hard time with as far as leaving the meetings it is the “hireling” issue . I feel like sending out the ministers in 2′s is scriptural and what Jesus taught . Paying someone to preach and having to make a Mortgage payment on a church building seems like bondage to me.

Interestingly enough, it was a very small issue for me to work through. But I know it can be a big issue for many who are still in the meetings or have been. I think the main reason this was not an issue for me was because in the role of a pastor I know money is needed to do their job.

The church I attend views the church building as simply a place for the church body to meet. Period. There are several thousand people in attendance every week and they need a large campus to accommodate this. I had no trouble giving money to that church because they did not make an issue out of that part of the service and I could not think of a better cause to give my money to. Bottom line; that’s it for me. There is no better cause then to support the furtherance of the Gospel.

However, I do want to look at the verses Becky is referring to from John 10:11-13:

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”

Jesus was talking about himself. I don’t see any reference there to other preachers or ministers. He was talking about how He was the good shepherd and He was literally going to lay down His life for the sheep. He was going to protect the sheep with His very life. NO ONE could EVER possibly have cared for us like He did and does. It just is not possible. He could not have done anymore.

ONCE AGAIN, the meeting system has taken beautiful verses such as those and made them all about the homeless ministry instead of the focus being 100% on the Good Shepherd. THIS is the issue here! Over and over again, the meeting group has taken the focus off of Jesus and made it all about them. Amazing and tragic.

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7 thoughts on “Ah yes….the hireling issue

  1. I still struggle with the issue of money being new to other churches. Growing up and being told the ministers go out two by two with nothing…everything is provided for them but salaried preachers and church buildings are bad. Friends are paying for your food, clothes, car, gas, etc. How is that any different than the pastor at my church? Workers don’t lack for anything, get to see things I would never get to see, and typically have extra spending money. Yet I know several pastors who are salaried but get so little after costs of church business/charities that they have to have a second job to actually support themselves and their families. I also struggled with how little some of the friends actually saw the workers. When my parents were paying for a car we always had worker company. But once that stopped they hardly ever came around…maybe once or twice a year for a meal while they stayed several nights with friends who had more money than we did. Another reason to love my church where they pastor, etc has no idea who gives what. You could not give a cent and they don’t treat you any different because they have no idea who gives what.

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  2. Hi Darla,

    Really enjoyed this post. It goes right to the heart of what F&Ws feel is the crown jewel of the fellowship system.

    Are others impatiently waiting for Darla’s next post?

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    • Yes Ted!! I for one can’t wait for her next post and the next one and then the one after that !! Darla’s post and all who reply are helping me so much on my journey to ” sort out ” How I feel and what I really believe spiritually ! All my life I’ve been taught to believe that thinking out side the box is actually being led astray by satan… It’s a bit a scary and at the same time a bit exciting to be taking baby steps in the direction of seeing the big picture differently . I sure appreciate everyone’s helpful words !

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  3. What an issue!…hireling.
    You folks have brought out some very insightful thought-provoking points.
    Yes, Jesus did give such teachings as Matthew 10.
    Having said that, He never appointed one person to decide how the 2×2 line-up would be nor where they would go, which is a violation of individual leading of the Holy Spirit.
    This is only one of the many issues I used to look at and finally one day in the car going to, I do not recall where, I blurted out: “If we do it it’s wrong!” and nearly ended up out on the shoulder.
    We busily tried to do the right appearance, but becase of the wrong reason/motive and were quick to judge anyone who did otherwise!
    Woe be to any group who diligently proclaims penniless, homeless, childless, etc. to hide the real reality.
    I find it so interesting that one of the founding 2×2 fathers who adamantly promoted celibacy ruthlessly has an illegitimate son buried in Christchurch, NZ!
    I finally saw that if the system would not have been “guided” by one man but by the Holy Spirit there would have been limited problems in the ministry instead of so many problems that there is not room enough under the carpet for any more.
    “Freely ye have received, freely give…” is in those same teachings.
    Finally, I saw that any form of the word “give” in the scripture has to do with grace – the ministry that actually has the blessing of God is a ministry of grace regardless.
    Could it be that there is such a limited ministry among the fellowship because so little has actually been received?
    “…by their fruits ye shall know them.”
    God in His sovereingnty will bless whatever method that accomplishes His purpose.
    At one stage, there must have been some who questioned Paul’s ability to accept others who “outside the box” were preaching, and Paul made it clear, “…nevertheless Christ is preached.”
    Recently, I listened to a message on shepherds from Psalm 23, Ezekiel 34 and John 10 with no emphesis on how the shepherd is sent.
    If only such ideals would have been set forth in some of those workers’ meetings we used to frequent.
    “…I know my sheep…” That day we were told the only way for a shepherd to actually know the state of a sheep or the flock, is to draw near to the Great Shepherd of the sheep who knows His own.
    It can be a painful process to arrive at being able to accept some of these things, but so liberating when we allow God to remove the blinders and finally feel we do not have to judge.

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  4. This is a very good point of discussion Darla, as I see so many that have issues, questions and answers for this very topic…a homeless, penniless ministry. I agree with you about the verse you have mentioned. Not only in the meetings, but in many other churches, it is more about the messenger than the message. It is sad, but very human. There is such a beautiful thing in preaching the good news from a humble heart with absolute joy because you want to. Everything else and anything else about your life (possessions, wealth, marital status, home etc) are irrelevant to the message. If you have a true spiritual desire to teach/preach you will do it, whether you are married with six kids, or single backpacking around the world. Jesus picked a mixture of people to help spread his message and I don’t feel anything needs to be changed about that. After the death of Jesus, we have the ministry of the Holy Spirit and in my understanding of spiritual power, the message can come forth from anyone who hears in and from Spirit and feels inspired to share what they have heard. Religion always favours a human form or set foundation of “man-made” structure. This can be all very well if those human forms and structures are in their right place. I always have believed that religion can come between man and God, and with the meetings this is very, very subtle, but active none-the-less. Just because it’s scriptural, seems simple and humble and quiet, does not mean it isn’t powerful. We all know on your blog here, the effect on mind and health of such subtle powers. The bible is a history book, the times and places, customs and practices all in the past. The Word of God is Jesus. If religion feels it needs to copy such long ago forms and rituals to bring people into the light of Jesus Christ, I feel very sorry for it indeed. We are living in a new age where spirituality will gradually put religion in the past, there are so many things that are idols (dress codes, traditions, rituals), false truths and cover-ups for the working of the Spirit. I do trust that Joel’s prophecy will come to light fully, it is struggling in a world where man wants top place…and it is just so, so simple. We all can teach, preach and share the Spirit of Love from our lives, no matter who or where we are, it is a living Word. We can have anything good and right in this world that we love and enjoy and are truly gifted in, whether it’s music or some other skill (and these are as unlimited as God!). If our first priority is a spiritual life, peace with God and no fear of death, we won’t be attached to those things. I believe this is what Jesus means when he says to be in the world, but not of the world, but that is my personal revelation. I love the very fact that God’s Spirit of Love is working away in the world, and that it will be the victor. It does the inner work in the heart, and is helping this world become the renewed earth. Such simple Truth, so beautifully pure.

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  5. You know it is amazing and tragic. The Bible (the whole Bible) is about Jesus. It is not about Jesus and “something else”. When you mix a system in there, Jesus is watered down, to become the “elder brother” or “good example”. We know he is much more than that.

    Here in Hawaii, the workers assigned here and visiting workers for convention and special meetings were given the royal treatment of days of expensive sightseeing and special meals. This also included expensive things most of the friends could not afford like helicopter trips over the volcano and other parts of the islands. When overseers came, it was even more “royal”.

    We heard stories of unbelievable amounts of money in the overseers control often managed by one special “friend” in an area, with zero accountability. I thoroughly trust my church (which has a very open accounting system) over a closed and very secret way of dealing with money. The overseers should be careful who they call the hirelings. Towards the end of my time in the meeting system, I asked questions about many things including money. The answers were always the same…nonexistent or the occasional “you have a bad spirit to ask such a thing”….I would imagine that the IRS would be extremely interested in a group that refuses to be tax exempt, yet does not pay taxes on vast amounts of money. That is a whole other story though.

    By-the-way, our church meets quarterly and goes over every penny brought in and exactly where is goes. Never in the meeting system would that occur…not ever!

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    • Yes, I am aware of what you have wrote also. I also believe that anything that is dishonest or “kept secret” will be brought to light. Because I believe so much in honesty and honest discussion about God and spiritual Truth I also want to explain my words about the bible being a history book. Spiritually yes, it is all about Jesus, and this is a wonderful revelation, to look beyond the literal black and white word, historical stories and accounts, and see our own life and soul from the very first page to the last. For to me, Jesus is also about us. Personally. What I was meaning when I wrote, was that many people look at literal words in the bible, like the disciples preaching two by two, or women having long hair, or even worse, old testament writings about women not wearing men’s clothing, and they think these words are the word of God. They take a word here and a word there, not bothering to study the historical context and the audience at the time. What a wonderful day it will be when all those who teach and preach the gospel story focus on spiritual Truth only, the complete Truth of Jesus as the unfailing Love of God for mankind. To do so though, they must be taught spiritually first. No wonder Paul gets frustrated and speaks to the Hebrew’s “you should all be teachers by now!” It’s a process for us all…moving on and to perfection in Jesus Christ..spiritually, not religiously! I love the open way your church handles the finances. It’s just money after all! Blessings to you.

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