This post originally appeared as my response to a blog topic posted by my friend Lakita Humber (Paneh Praise Dance & Mime Ministry) as part of Dance Ministry Ethics week:
TOPIC: Contracted Ministry
Here is the original link if you want to check out the original post and several responses:
I have several areas that I would like to address, according to the Word of God:
1- In all your getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7).
Why a “contract?” Isn’t the purpose of a contract to have legal recourse?
Contract: In law, a contract is a binding legal agreement that is enforceable in a court of law. That is to say, a contract is an exchange of promises for the breach of which the law will provide a remedy. (Source: Wikipedia)
We understand the importance of having an agreement (understanding) in writing, but formulating a contract can become an area of contention. We may want to justify dance ministry as our occupation, but at this point, we need to determine if preaching and dancing the Gospel is a “job” to us or a commission from the Lord.
Do not go hastily to court; For what will you do in the end, When your neighbor has put you to shame?
But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?
If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.
1 Corinthians 6:1
[Do Not Sue the Brethren] Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?
***Personally, I receive a letter of invitation to know what to expect. Usually, these items are provided, but if not, I move on and it is forgiven; however, I may hesitate to deal with that ministry in the future.
2- What exactly are we charging for?
Are we charging for the Gospel? Are we charging for our time? Are we charging for our experience? We should be led by the Word and by the Lord. Let’s look at Paul’s take on this:
1 Corinthians 9:18
What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
2 Corinthians 11:7
Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?
What context are we being asked to come in? Could Paul have charged? Certainly, but to keep himself pure (cannot serve God and mammon), he opted not to. How many of us have seen ministries corrupted by the love of money?
I too travel frequently and am blessed to receive accommodations, travel and love offerings. I am also blessed when I do not receive travel, lodging, or finances. The reward will be awaiting me in eternity. I am not suffering lack and rejoice in the many testimonies of the people who the Lord sends me to serve.
I believe that the difference is being aware of the circumstances up front. I personally do not ever want money to be a factor in my acceptance of an assignment. There are conferences that I have attended in which I have paid for the entire trip and received no money. Personally, the Lord has not instructed me to charge for ministry, but gave me a way to return with additional income through a vendor table for dance ministry goods. If I feel that a conference host is taking advantage of instructors, it is my choice whether or not I will continue to participate.
3- FULL TIME?
Some may say, “This is what I do full time.”
***Food for thought: If we are not making enough money doing ministry, then should we look for a job (or business) to support our living expenses?
We should all be in full-time ministry as a life calling. Agreed, if we labor in the Gospel, we should live from it. The issue is that many of us have not reached the point where we are solely laboring in the Word to meet our financial needs. (Yes, I do “this” full-time, but the Lord opened the door for me to be able to do this exclusively— in His timing).
***More Food for Thought: Are we expecting our needs to be met or our wants too?
For example, I am blessed to run a praise dance company and I pay my technique instructor to show up on time twice per week and teach a progressive modern dance curriculum. She is not paid to show up and dance with us at ministry outings. She is not paid to attend Word classes. I am asking her to dedicate her time on a regular basis and be available to cover for me when I am out of town. But guess what the blessing is? She allows me to pay her whatever the Lord placed on my heart. Because I consulted Him, she is paid standard scale for dance instructors. (I also believe that by the same measure we sow, we reap. When we take care of people, God will take care of us).
It is up to us to treat one another well. Should we make demands for our service? Have we reached a level where we must be comfortable and happy to minister the Word of God? (WOW- How did Paul do it from jail?) Again, let the Word and the Holy Spirit guide. A few parting Scriptures for thought:
1 Timothy 5:17
[Honor the Elders] Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.
1 Thessalonians 2:8-9
“So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.”
“Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
1 Corinthians 9:13-15
“Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.”
“Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.’ But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.”
Let’s not only preach the Word, but live it!
All Scriptures quoted from the New King James Version.