My lovely wife makes me chuckle from time to time. We have friends who hope to move to Florida, and another couple of friends considering a good job offer in Florida, and so we have been mulling over the possibilities. For me, the question is how to pay for the move and how to have steady income flowing when we get there. Logically, I’d be interested in job information from Florida, as well as an idea of cost of living (rent, groceries, gas, etc.). Oddly enough – and the idea that made me chuckle – was the suggestion by my wife that I follow up on a hint from one of our Florida friends that there are Churches of Christ looking for preachers there.
If you’ve been reading this blog for long and know anything about the a cappella Church of Christ, I hope you can see what’s wrong with that suggestion.
The first problem would be doctrinal. What Church of Christ, knowing 1/10 of what I believe, would take me. Would I hide what I believe to keep getting a paycheck?
The second issue is precisely the paycheck. I’ve received support for mission work and would gladly accept it again, but I have to have a measure of creative liberty about how to carry forward the ministry project. People who attend a church I serve and pay my bills start getting a proprietary feel about everything, thinking they are free to tear me down without a second thought and do nothing in ministry themselves.
That brings me to the third reason why I can’t accept a full-time, paid parish ministry: I can’t handle being the hired gun. I love working with people on ministry projects and want to see people doing their best for the reign of God, but I refuse to be the only person doing the work. My goal is to be a leader, not a sole proprietor or entrepreneur (or… shudder… a CEO answering to a board of trustees). If I’m paid to do ministry and no one else is, people will cross their arms and do as little as possible…other than mutter under their breath about how I’m doing it wrong.
You full-time, paid ministers who pull it off successfully without losing your souls have my highest respect. I’m just not one of you.