This morning I was catching up on some of my emails and ran across a long apology letter from a ministry that had solicited a date for me to minister next year at a major conference. To my surprise I had received an earlier email I hadn’t opened yet from the same ministry requesting a credit report and a criminal back ground check to qualify me to be considered.
As it turned out the email was sent in error by a staffer for potential employees of the ministry’s daycare staff. But it made me think, it is obvious that the day is coming, with so many scandals in ministry today, that this might possibly be a real requirement for speakers, as well as, pastoral candidates.
Ministry is becoming big time business and those providing it are yielding huge profits if their gifting is productive. Notice I said productive, not effective. Most of what many churches want today is someone who can draw crowds and raise offerings. What many speakers expect is a substantial payday for services rendered. Evangelism is an archaic term and is replaced by marketing strategies and entertainment hype about expectations of harvest and production. I wonder sometimes how we all got here.
The emphasis started out with the message being the most important agenda, especially if it was a fresh word from the Lord. The messenger was merely the agent of communication for some important issue. In the final analysis not many remembered the messenger, but the impact of the message carried the weight. Somehow, we have mistaken ministry for entertainment and worship for fun and games. Now this dilemma is not new nor creative. Some of these church games is what led up to the 15th century Reformation in Europe and the 19th century Holy Spirit explosion in America.
However, the real issue today is that as leaders in the Church, what mandate do we have as vessels to purify our messages with holy lifestyles? Becoming both a mouthpiece and an example. What responsibility does the church have to provide sound teaching and not merely entertaining orators? Protecting the sheep, instead of robbing the pews. How can we find a happy medium between costs for presentation and expectations for financial gain? There must be a balance somewhere.
I share all of this not to poke fun but to call attention to the lack of credibility and responsibility on both sides of the fence. I receive roughly 200-300 request a year for appointments, but only take around 30 a year. Why? Because I need time for family, rest, study, prayer, and reflection. I also have a business for my personal expenses which leaves me free for real ministry.
Part of our mandate as leaders in the church should be accountably. Becoming submissive to a particular governing influence should keep one balanced and disciplined for correction and caution. Also recapturing the impact of worship is a key to moving in the right direction. Turning the focus from self-glory to giving God all the glory through Jesus Christ, our Lord.