I Cor. 16:9  “For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”

May 29, 2007

Supporting Preachers of the Word

In the CLC USA we have the joy of working together with our brethren in sister churches to bring the Word of God to people. Above all we have the joy of working together with Him. “For we are fellow workers for God…” I Cor. 3:9 “Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.” 2 Cor. 6:1 Sometimes though when the ‘salary question’ arises this is forgotten.   When some men inquire about joining with us as they learn that there is no salary, they leave. For instance Pastor Kossi in Togo of the EELCT had a man who was to study with him to be a preacher in the church. The man was told we do not give salary. While he also saw that Kossi works as a headmaster to support himself and his family as a clear example, still this man wanted a salary. He left then because he could not get one. Of course we regret him not joining to work together, yet we are glad that the desire for money excluded him from joining, as there may have been worse difficulties later. Even within our fellowships the question of a salary arises. Some years ago the former head of the BELC in India gave salaries to men. Over several years working with our brothers we changed this, though there is still once in a while a question about ‘salary’. We all have a sinful flesh that expresses itself.

Mission Board Policy

The CLC Mission Board policy is to not pay salaries to preachers in our sister churches except in several special instances. And even in these we hope over time to change that. It is neither commanded nor forbidden in Scripture that we as a different church body removed by the oceans are to pay salaries of sister church pastors. Since this is a matter left for human judgment, the Mission Board has decided through study and prayer that the policy is a good one. History has shown in looking at many other situations that this is wise.

  • For us to pay a salary to a preacher in a sister church body can breed a dependency on foreign help. We want our sister churches to be self-governing, self-propagating and self-supporting. If we were to inject this sizeable support it would not move toward self-support. Among all our sister churches there are approaching 500 preachers.
  • Paying of salaries to all preachers would prolong a dependency to the point that it would be unhealthy for the sister church. We have seen this unhealthy attitude show itself in other areas. In one sister church we built several churches. When the time came for repairs we were asked for repair costs as these were ‘our’ churches. We have given bicycles for some who have completed study. After several years we find that some have not kept up the bicycles such that some need a ‘new’ one and we were asked to replace such as if they were ‘our’ bicycles.  Our policies try to avoid these spiritually unhealthy attitudes.
  • Paying of salaries can also contribute to a coveting. There is a love for money in all of us. If we pay one man more than another, the question is asked, ‘Why? Don’t I deserve that.’ Since we are not on the scene, since it is not our church we do not know the situations and what can arise with this. It is best that the local congregation supports its pastor as the basis for the work. They and he know.

Some may wonder if it is a ‘loving’ thing, this policy. All any need do is remember how the CLCUSA has helped in many other ways to support the work of preaching to see that our approach is one of love.

Preaching the Gospel – Living of the Gospel

In 1 Cor. 9:14 we read, “…the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the Gospel should get their living by the Gospel.” We see that this means that those who proclaim the Word receive support from those who hear the Word.  “If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits?” 9:11 Paul further illustrates this with verse 7, “…Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?”   In Gal. 6:6 Paul again points out the preacher/congregation relationship of support, “Let him who is taught the Word share all good things with him who teaches.” This relationship between preacher and those preached to is so basic for the church. It is foundational for the church. As can be seen, a foreign church body as the CLC USA is not in this picture as paying salaries. God knows what He is doing. It is His church. For Him to  point this out in Scripture is very important then.

The Twelve and Seventy Sent Out

In the sending out of the twelve the Lord explicitly points out how they should be supported as they travel and preach, “…for the laborer deserves his food.” Mt. 10:10 This food is to come from those who benefit. They were to go into the house of one who received and listened.   In the sending out of the seventy again our Lord says, “…the laborer deserves his wages…” Lk. 10:7 They were to remain in a house that received the blessing, “eating and drinking what they provide.” Those who are blessed with the Word support the preacher of the Word.

The Example of Paul Supported by Others

We do have the example of Paul working with support from Philippi, “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the Gospel, when I left Macedonia, no other church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving except you only; for even in Thessalonica you sent me help once and again.” Ph. 4:15-16 It should be noted that this was a very voluntary thing. The Philippians did it at the time but not others. We of course send support to our sister churches just as Philippi did to Paul.   The other reference to Paul accepting support from other than the local church where he was working is, “I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in want I did not burden any one, for my needs were supplied by the brethren who came from Macedonia.” 2 Cor. 11:8-9 It seems then that there were other churches beyond the Philippians who did support Paul in his work.

Paul the Tentmaker

The way that Paul supported himself in three specific situations, Ephesus, Corinth, Thessalonica, follows.

  • Ephesus – Acts 20:34-35 “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Paul spent up to three years working in the Ephesus area on the third journey so that his laboring with his hands might have been rather extensive. Notice also that he did it also for those “who were with me.”  Here is the example of the Apostle that we must not forget in our situations today.
  • Corinth – Acts 18:3 “and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them, and they worked, for by trade they were tentmakers.” Paul preached at Corinth for at least 18 months, so that here is again a place where he could have worked with his hands greatly to support himself.
  • Thessalonica – 2 Thess. 3:7-8 “For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you.” This is the attitude we pray all of our fellows preachers have toward THE work of proclaiming the Gospel.

The CLC is following the example of Paul in this regard in that we are trying to help preachers with ‘tentmaking’ or self-help projects. This we are doing extensively because it is Scriptural and the comparison is clear with Paul and preachers today. We make loans in the OT mode of ‘no interest’ to our brothers to assist them to work with their hands or to allow the wife to work on some business project. It is very important that these loans are repaid for then the money can be loaned out to other brother preachers to help them. None repayment of the loan means not helping a brother.


It is not for us to murmur or complain, but to be thankful to the Lord for what He is doing for us. We as preachers have the greatest task in the world. In considering the ‘salary question’ it is good to remember the words from the love chapter 13 of First Corinthians. “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;…Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things… When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” Let us seek to be maturing in Christ always in this question as in all others until that day when the imperfect will put on the perfect and the corruptible will put on incorruptibility.

Pastor Koenig