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Is Non-paid, Lay Pastoring Really God’s Will?

(1 Tim 5:17-18)

Due to common and widespread financial constraints, made worse by the recent
economic downturn (a.k.a. “The Great Recession” - see ‘How We Got Here’ [Audio] (Lewis
Walton, ASI 2009); see also this (illustrated) presentation by Australian evangelist Herb
Kersten), lay pastoring has become more and more popular in some Local Conference policies.
Current denominational statistics (p.6) show that as much as 24%-32% of “Evangelistic and
Pastoral Employees” who are not “Ordained” or “Licensed”, but classified as “Other”, may be
formally recognized/utilized “Lay” Workers.[1]1 Despite this stance of the Global Church on
formal lay “utilization,” there really is no Biblical support for such a plan for the
“corporal”/organized work of God. From the times of the Old Testament, the priesthood (i.e., the
Levites) were to be “wholly” set apart for the work of ministry. (Num 18:20, 21) They were to be
completely taken care of by the tithes and offerings given by the rest of God’s people. In the early
days of the SDA Church, the ministers were largely all self-supporting, and worked secular jobs
to support their families. That is until financial downturns (typically enough, the “Panic of
1857") caused many of them to wholly devote themselves to secular work and their pastoring
work greatly suffered, if not entirely abandoned. It is at this time, starting in 1858, that the
Church leaders turned to the Bible by forming a study group under the leadership of J.N.
Andrews to find a Biblical solution/model for the support of the ministry, and eventually tithing
was introduced (as a part of the greater “Systematic Benevolence” which was based on 1 Cor
16:2) so that ministers can wholly focus their efforts the work of ministry. Tithing was later
formally passed as a General Conference resolution in 1873, (interestingly enough, in the
darkness of the “Panic of 1873"). [See Light Bearers to the Remnant (1979), 89, 178, 179].
Therefore, if non-paid lay pastoring had always been God’s “ideal” plan for the ministry
then, (a) it would, not only, have been implemented from the days of Ancient Israel, but (b) it
would surely have been “maintained,” by Divine, corrective, revelation through Ellen White if
necessary, within early Adventists.
Pastoring, when done as it should be, is in itself is a tremendous and demanding, physical
and spiritual responsibility and task. In fact it is said that the public preaching of preachers is one
of the most physically stressful tasks that one can undertake. How much more having to do this
every week. Furthermore proper sermon preparation demands serious Bible Study in order to
provide (1) fresh, (2) accurate, (3) relevant, (4) educational, (5) instructional/practical (5)
inspiring and (6) interesting content. To do so without having had the quite beneficial 4-7 years
of university and seminary education and training, as it is imposed on lay pastors, while being
possible and passable, it literally quadruples the burden upon the lay person. That is not to
mention all of the other stressful responsibilities that a pastor, and even a lay pastor, has and is
expected to meet (see the NAD Church Resource Consortium stipulations). Moreover, and most
significant is the fact that the lay pastor also has to support and provide for his family, and that by
working 40+ hours a week at a physical draining job. Another 10+ hours could also be deducted
for that person having to prepare for, and travel to and from that secular job. All of these extra
stresses and demands is something that a regular, paid pastor does not have to deal with, and
arguably, even on a ministerial salary, is more than likely making more money than a lay pastor
at a secular job. All that is being done here is that lay pastors are doing 2-4+ times more the
overall work of a paid pastor, with similar, and even, more stress, and receiving absolutely
nothing for these efforts. Is that God’s plan and will for His Church? The Biblical answer is
clearly No!
‘What about Paul and his tentmaking,’ it is commonly said. Well Paul was called by God
to do, literally, an independent, itinerary work to the Gentiles. His work was controversial
enough, even among Jewish Christian, that he evidently preferred to set out on his own and work
to support his extra, itinerant, world travels, according to the special mission that God had given
him. He also did not want to be an added burden to the then marginalized, and thus quite poor,
Jerusalem Church, nor to the predominantly Gentile churches that he was establishing. Still Paul
did not consider this self-supporting endeavor to be the Biblical mandate for God’s ministers (see
1 Cor 9:3-19; cf. 2 Cor 11:9); and even indirectly reproached the Churches who had not
supported him as the Philippians did (Phil 4:14-19). Indeed, as the quality and fatigue problems,
mentioned above, experienced by early SDA Ministers showed, it was also quite detrimental and
impractical. Paul mainly engaged in self-supporting work to not give an occasion for those who
wanted to falsely use this as an excuse to deny his ministry or the Gospel. (1 Cor 9:12; 2 Cor 6:3,
11:12). Therefore he himself would not prescribe, nor endorse, an individualistic, “fend-for-
oneself” approach as the adopting of a Capitalistic mindset today dictates. Instead, for even the
members Christian Church as a whole, Paul, in line with the blessed, Spirit-led model of the
other Apostles (Acts 2:43-47; 4:32-35), strongly encouraged a willful collective wealth sharing
among believers, based upon the God-ordained equalizing example in the distribution/collection
of manna (2 Cor 8:7-15; cf. CS 19.1-5). In the same way, the consistent principle and example of
God in the Bible is that all ministers are to be paid for their wholly devoted work among God’s
people, and that from tithes and offerings from the rest of the people, i.e., from those who are in a
more favorable position to do so. (See the exegetical understanding of the related SOP statements
on this issue of ‘Paul’s tentmaking’ made in AA 351.2-3 & AU Gleaner, June 16, 1909 par. 1-3
Sure lay pastors are naturally “devoted” to God’s work, but should they literally have to
“pay” for this genuine devotion by effectively being exploited? Shouldn’t all ministers be also so
“devoted”, and do God’s work for no salary? Furthermore, is there no concern for the adverse
and detrimental health effects that such added stress and physical fatigue does have upon these
lay pastors, whether it is noticed and/or admitted by them? At the very least, solely as a Church
that preaches a holistic, comprehensive Health Message, this should be taking into full,
determinative consideration.
Lay (i.e., non formally educated) Pastoring, in itself, is also not the ideal goal for a Global
Church that operates over 111 colleges, universities and seminaries. A properly educated pastor
is a necessity in order to be able to properly provide for a local congregation, and help them to
efficiently and conclusively answer and resolve various questions and/or issues that they may
have, or come across, once they have joined the Church. In fact, it may very well be the lack of
adequate, properly trained and educated pastors throughout the Global Church, which currently is
about 65% under the ideal goal of 1 qualified pastor per congregation,* that is responsible for,
according to the most recent statistics, the Church losing & “missing” ca. 1300 members per day
(not including deaths, of course). Furthermore, this is actually over 83% when the Church’s
62,430+ “Companies” are rightfully included in this calculation[2]2 as, having personally
experienced a “Company” prior to it becoming recognized as a “Church,” it certainly does not
equate a ‘small, insignificant congregation.’ This latter percentage of 83% is actually higher
when the fact is factored in that many Churches have more than one ordained and/or licensed
pastors on their staff, with these extra pastors functioning mainly, if not solely, in administrative
capacities. Of course, yet quite ironically, if not betrayingly, enough, the reasoning here is that
‘the main (i.e., preaching) pastor cannot be “overburdened” with these variously demanding
administrative tasks,’ especially in a large congregation. So, of course, a second Pastor is brought
in to do this extra work. So... a pastor indeed should not be burdened with working up to an extra
40 hours per week??? (Or perhaps it is seen as more economic to hire a second pastor, rather than
paying one time-and-a-half for overtime hours... or better yet, paid pastors just don’t work
overtime hours!)[3]3

* And this “1 qualified pastor per congregation” ideal should actually be according to the
functional/responsibility lines which were Biblically and Historically well substantiated and
documented by Kameron DeVasher in this SEYC 2013 sermon, which is with them functioning
as Evangelist in/for their assigned field and Educators/Teachers and Trainers to their
congregation, thus, like Paul and his Church letters, actually responsible for Church Planting and,
and as the need is, Biblical Instructing, but with the bulk of the Local Pastoral work, which is
really merely rehashingly repetitive in most Churches and to most long-time members, being
done by local Elders. Thus by time that a Pastor retires (some e.g., 40 years later), he/she
potentially would have spent their entire ministry working their assigned field new Churches and
as that Calculus would result in the overall world field thus being quickly all properly worked,
the Gospel Work thus would have long been quickly done and the field ripe and ready for the
Rev 18:1 Final Harvest under God’s wrapping up Latter Rain!!
Indeed there then would most likely be no reason to try to figure out what to do with new
pastors if/when the state of ecclesiastical affairs would come to be that their literally is an SDA
Church in, e.g, every “ZIP/Postal Code”-sized area.

Pastors are supposed to be there to satisfactorily shepherd the flock that is coming in.
(Maybe a demonstrated endeavor and commitment to caring excellence by the Church’s
leadership in this matter, which would also come to included the due default hiring of all
ministerial graduates and not ‘passing them through the fire’, as it were, in the name of the
revered, godlike economy, would motivate Church members to tithe at the 100% rate that they
should be tithing (that is 100% of baptized members returning a faithful tithe), and thus cover
these added disbursements here!)
In the economic downturns that regularly occur in capitalistic economies and its greedily
whimsical ways, local conferences may think that have hit a God-given “gold mine” with non-
paid lay pastors, but all that is being done is the systematic abuse of them and their devotion in
the name of God, solely for the purpose of ‘balancing books.’ Conferences should either pay all
of the people they expect to pastor a church, or equally pay none of them. But certainly do not
effectively “enslave” some in order to pay others their full salaries. Or even, better yet, (and why
this is not done is quite puzzling in itself), reduce the salaries of currently paid pastors so lay
pastors can also be paid with an equal salary. (This is done at times to retain pastors who are to
be laid off because of financial constraints, but of course, non-professional, uneducated laymen,
are not worthy of this professional consideration and courtesy.) Hopefully, the fact that lay
pastors have not obtained a piece of paper from an accredited Adventist Institution of Higher
Learning for Theological studies is not seen as a reason, or better, an excuse, for not paying them
because that will only confirm the fact that they are indeed being quite intentionally, and with
effective discrimination, exploited and enslaved. This whole, purely capitalistic, side system is
only, inherently, purely self-serving for the Church.
If the Church as a whole was living according to the Biblical and Spirit-led socio-
economic model of the Early New Testament Church, then it would not be so dependent on the
economy of the country where they are working and established. But the Church has wholly
subscribed to Capitalistic philosophies and principles, both for the membership, and for the
administration of God’s Work and its, suppose-to-be, supporting Institutions, that it is only
natural that its financial well-being rises and falls with a country’s “rollercoaster” economy and
stock market. Good Speculative Luck in such an unbiblically charted endtime course!



* Pastors as Teachers

Note #2 - "3000 per day"

Annual Council 2017 – October 8, 2017 (8 00am to 12 00pm)
LDE 202.3

1. [1] The percent range here is due to the skewing of the data by the statistics of the Northern-
Asia Pacific Division (NSD) where the political situation in e.g., China and North Korea dictate
that the work be of a underground nature, and thus defaultly involve non-paid workers. As much
as 48% of Denominational Lay Evangelistic and Pastoral Employees may come from these two

2. [2] Though the church is baptizing on average ca. 3,714 people per day, according to
normative stats, it can be seen that ca. 40% of these baptisms are “faith confirming” vs. “faith
converting” baptisms, i.e., from young children (ca . -15 years of age) who were born and/or
raised in the Church and are now, being of age, deciding to be baptized....many of whom,
according to Church statistics, go on to also leave the Church around their college years.
So presently, i.e. from Church statistics 2016 stats (p.30), the Church is actually
“converting” ca. 476 less people per day (= 2,704 “Letters Granted, Dropped, Missing, Adjusted”
Members per day vs. 2,228 new converts per day) than are “deconverting.” (Annual Total (2016):
813,886 new converts vs. 987,676 “deconverts” = (net) -173,790). That is even more striking and
perplexing when the main reason that convinced many of these “new converts” to join the
Church was probably because of a prophecy seminar which was stressing that ‘the end of the
world was very near, “even at the door”’ In fact, the sudden drastic reduction in deconversions
from 2015 to 2016 can be entirely due to the Fall 2015 SDA-hyped event of Pope Francis’ visit
to the U.S. and his speech to a joint session of Congress. (Perhaps even, many of the members
who had left before, are then now returning.)
But a very significant fact/point is from the common heralding of SDAs, as done during
the 2017 Annual Council Statistical Reporting [at 01:53:39ff] that the Church now having (since
actually 2014) over 3,000 new member per day (currently 3,714) is a prophetic fulfilment of the
SOP statement in LDE 202.3 that: “the events of the Day of Pentecost [Acts 2:41] shall be
repeated with even greater power”. -{Let’s not forget the merely-“men”-counted total of 5,000
who were added to the Apostolic Church in Acts 4:4}. The SDA Church comparing its present
accomplishments with that of the Apostolic Church is fundamentally skewingly flawed as it
technically was 120 members (Acts 1:15) who produced that 3,000 new converts total. For the
SDA Church of currently ca. 20,000,000 members to be doing (just) the same, it would have to
be adding 500,000,000 new members per day!!!
So the SDA Church would be “wise” to judge itself by what it actually can, and should be
doing, given the various many more resources, including human resources, that it has to spread
the Gospel (=LDE 59.3)...because the conversions on Pentecost, sealed through the influence of
the Holy Spirit, were only done subsequent to the masses of people having actually heard the
sermon of Peter. As Paul says, the work cannot be done if it is not tangibly done (Rom 10:14-17;
cf. John 4:35)...and indeed the Holy Spirit cannot do His work (John 16:8-11), if there is nothing
prepared by the work of the Church membership to act convincingly/convictingly/convertingly

3. [3] If fairness in dealings and Gospel ministry had been the foremost objectives of the
conference leaders using lay pastoring, they would have assigned lay pastors to churches that
have a need for such “administrative pastors” and assigned non-lay pastors, (i.e., those who have
a pertinent diploma from an SDA University and/or the Seminary), to churches that only need
one pastor. But of course, under the foundational capitalistic approach that is being used in SDA
conferences, the main concern is still that a church is capable to afford paying for its pastors,
even if indirectly. So the churches that contribute the most to the tithes are implicitly “entitled” to
have even more than one paid pastor. If the aim of the church had been to further its Gospel
mission, it indeed would have assigned its (presumably) “most qualified” (i.e., most formally
educated) pastoral workers to congregations that have the most need, i.e., churches or companies
that currently have a low membership, and thus a need to increase it; which is supposed to be
something that these “educated” and “paid” “professional pastors” should be able to easily do, or
else, why are they then being so highly prized!??