Sunday, September 25, 2016

Putting a Price on Ministry

One reason I maintain a post office box in Ashland, Virginia is because of frequently visiting a Christian campground there. Calvary Pentecostal Tabernacle hosts meetings and conferences throughout the year without charging for food or lodging except during their biannual Women’s Conventions. For over 60 years, CPT’s needs have been met largely through offerings. That is truly a testimony of God’s faithfulness.

At other places, I’ve attended conferences where admission fees were charged. A few of those have been at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (now known as Catch the Fire). The evening meetings were still free to the general public. TACF told the ones who paid the conference fee not to feel obligated to give during evening offerings unless the Lord led them to. TACF also gave people the option to work a few hours at the church if they didn’t have enough money to attend the day sessions.

Then there are ministries charging to attend their evening meetings as well and receive offerings on top of that. During one church meeting I went to, $10 was needed to get in the door (unless one paid $145 for the whole conference) for the purpose of “crowd control.” Then an offering was received to buy buses so this ministry could transport people attending their crusades in foreign countries. Some preachers are called to minister more overseas. Yet there are (believe it or not) Americans who need a fresh touch from God but cannot afford a $10 admission.

Ministers certainly should be paid. 1 Timothy 5:18 says, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” It’s also important to count the cost (and pray) before holding a conference at a hotel or arena. A fellow evangelist I know often says, “If it’s God’s will, it’s His bill.” But how many ministers really trust God as their source? Didn’t Jesus command us in Matthew 10:8, Freely you have received, freely give? Kenneth and Gloria Copeland regularly host Believers’ Conventions in secular venues without charging any registration fees and seem to have no problem meeting the budget.

Now I do believe it’s appropriate for Christian groups, singers, and comedians to charge admission for concerts that are more for entertainment purposes than ministry. Then again, I attended one Carman concert where no admission was charged but an offering was received to help cover expenses.

God loves the poor and is against those who show favoritism to the rich (see James 2:1-9). Therefore, I want to challenge ministers who depend on conference fees to step out in faith and eliminate them…at least for conferences held in churches. God’s gifts of salvation, healing, and miracles should be available to all: rich and poor.

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” - Isaiah 55:1

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