INFLUENCE AND AUTHORITY and HISTORY COUPLED WITH SOLUTION
LOLLARDS AND POVERTY MINDSETS
Influence and authority as topics relate to Wagner’s first chapter in the Book the Church in the Workplace, which carries the same title. The book brings a profound truth that has become an enigma in our modern times, how do the world of business and the world of ministry live in peace and harmony with one another? One of Peter’s assertions revolves around the problematic attitudes that emerged in the Monastic era about money and wealth. I would further delineate the erupting issues of money and wealth in a negative light by identifying the flash point of conflagration as the battle between the English Lollards and the Monks who were fighting for supremacy in England in the 14th Century. John Wycliff’s followers became one of the first orders to denounce worldly wealth and possessions as a protest to the wealth that Catholic Clergy was amassing.
As Lollards wandered England, their apparel was simple. The Robes they wore would have been like today’s Burlap material. They carried no money. They owned no homes. These grass-root preachers were willing martyrs who wanted their lives to count in the advancement of the Kingdom of God. You would have to say that their techniques were laudable and noble, and they produced excellent results, as the Lollards ushered in a pre-Reformation Revival among the English Peasants who would feed and harbor these committed believers.
There is a lesson to be learned about these erstwhile Evangelists and the lasting impact of revival techniques. The aversion to material things and the ensuing attitude that materialism was always a negative, mainly when it was packaged and controlled by the churchmen, has proven to be of great detriment to the church over the ensuing centuries. As a revival technique that was not necessarily biblical but culturally effective became a cultural standard for spirituality within the church. The church became locked into a mindset and mentality that has locked it into a bygone eras standard that is no longer applicable. Wagner is right to call for a paradigm shift. It has been interesting to see his journey away from an attitude that saw money as somehow evil and a thing that must be avoided.
MINISTERIAL REMUNERATION PRINCIPLES
The issue of income disparity has been somewhat mitigated by taking an approach to pastoral remuneration that sees the proper way to compensate as the principle of the double portion of 1st Timothy 5:18. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” Our philosophy includes compensation that is double the standard of living in the region where we pastor. This can be a moving target, as all areas are not equal, but it creates a rule that works well wherever it is implemented.
Using a means standard creates an attitude that is not exclusionary against the less fortunate or against those who are wealthy. The pastor can live in descent accommodations and enjoy nicer things, like more excellent transportation. This does not eliminate those who feel that this a wrong approach to finances, as the long standing false teaching is hard to shake. But we have developed a method that ignores the assertions that advocate poverty for clergy.
If there are those who join us who persist in promoting the old system, we let them know that they are more than capable of walking with us, but if they can’t adjust, we may not be their best tribe. Adopting this attitude toward finances has produced excellent results. We don’t feel obligated to take vacations with the wealthy and expect them to foot the bill. We are free to receive gifts from friends, but the present isn’t an obligation born in pity or a desire to curry favor. The gifts are what they are, contributions based on relationship, not a burden. Our approach has also allowed us to keep the two Mountains separate, which is something that I think is hugely critical.
We have attempted
to close this gap in the places where we have pastored like at FloodGate Church
by creating an environment where business people can rest in Christ and have a
place where they are celebrated as individuals first, and what they do becomes
a secondary issue. Our ministry has developed a mindset that disallows people
from being excessively burdened with church ministry demands by preventing
anyone from holding more than two jobs in the
church, and by allowing people to choose to
rest if that all they can do without condemnation. Our approach to
ministry is to establish a relationship
with the person and to enable their ministry to develop as a secondary point. I
also do not look at the giving records of the people in the church. This
practice allows me to treat everyone objectively without being blinded by
giving or the lack of financial support.
 Wagner, C Peter, The Church in the Workplace, Ventura CA, 2006