"And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and in the days of Nehemiah gave the daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers. And they set apart that which was for the Levites, and the Levites set apart that which was for the sons of Aaron." - Nehemiah 12:47
When the Jewish people returned to the land of Israel under Zerubbabel (536 bc), Ezra (458 bc), and Nehemiah (445 bc), worship in Jerusalem was restored. For the worship to be done right, however, singers, gatekeepers, Levites, and priests were needed. These men needed to be paid for their work. It would have been wrong to expect volunteers to do all these jobs out of the goodness of their heart without a sufficient salary or wage. It was the responsibility of all the Jewish people to set apart the tithe so that these men could be compensated for their work.
We see some important principles here: (1) God's workers need to be justly paid; and (2) it is the responsibility of God's people to give from their income to support those who work full-time or part-time for the Lord.
In the body of Messiah, the Church, we are all called to different tasks and responsibilities. Some of us are called into the secular workforce. Others of us are called to full- or part-time ministry. Among the Open Brethren heritage churches in the south of the South Island, there has not been encouragement for full-time, supported Christian work within the churches themselves. There are full-time workers, but they operate independently or in parachurch ministries. In my view, this has hampered the churches south of Christchurch from growth and impact. We need gifted, called, trained, motivated, full-time workers in our churches, for the sake of the gospel.
Father, I pray that generously supported full- and part-time workers in our churches will become the norm, not the exception. It is time we get serious about our churches, Father. I pray the younger generation will be supported fully in the ministry to which you have called them. May full-time Christian work be seen as a legitimate and very rewarding career path. May the older generation who are wary of full-time workers in the church come to see the biblical pattern of supporting full-time workers within the churches. And may we not lose sight of our core values of the priesthood of all believers and the importance of everyone being involved in ministry. Give us vision, Lord, and help us to execute your vision. Help us to do the common sense things that will make a big difference for the future. Lord, I pray that our church will make the clear decision to support at least a part-time pastor and a part-time administrator, so that the church can be set up for sustainability if you call our family elsewhere in a few years. Father, I don't want the church to crash, to return to its previous state. At our five year mark, Lord, may we be able to hand things off to a next pastor, whether someone homegrown through the church or someone from the outside. Thank you, Father, for allowing me to express these things to you. You know they are constantly on my heart. Help our church to last beyond us, and help us come quickly to a place where we can plant more churches through the multiplying of disciples. In Jesus' name, amen.
- Jeff Coleman