I want to state emphatically and upfront that I am Pro-Church. I am pro- the people of God on earth living in and asking for God's Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. As I pray for God to build His Church, there is a flipside to that . . . that means everything is negotiable and needs to be willing to be sacrificed at the altar. For me, that meant firing myself from paid ministry and taking a bi-occupational role. Thanks to Kevin Rains for reminding me that our bro, Chad Canipe (who passed onto Kingdom fullness in March 06) would say that we have one vocation, to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). However, in that, we may have dual occupations or even a triad occupation. I'm not alone in having had worked as many as 3 jobs at a time to make ends meet to follow the calling of God on my life.
Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat—I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I'm leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn't, you realize, pie in the sky by and by. Some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen, see with their own eyes the kingdom of God."Luke 19:23-27 (The Message)
But what I want to re-iterate is that everything needs to be submitted before God. Our expectations of what a comfortable American living has to be submitted. Our expectations of where we hold community meetings has to be submitted. Our assumptions of what we envision our role in the church being has to be submitted. Our financial margins and use of physical resources has to be submitted. Our sense of comfort and security has to be submitted. Where God calls, God provides and that will come at least in the form of daily bread. If we claim to follow Christ, that has to be enough for us. We have to be very careful to guard against making "professional" what is a spiritual role.
It is the sense of entitlement that I am speaking against when it comes to vocational roles in ministry. I am not against the idea of being paid, I am against the assumption that its the way it always has been and always will be. God does not owe us anything! Not a job, not a title of honor, not an air-conditioned office nor full time hours a week to be a spiritual leader. Now his provision may emody all of that for you, but we have to be okay if it doesn't. Truly, his grace needs to be sufficient for us and its not our place to demand more. Don't run from suffering, embrace it. Let it change you. Let it bring you to deeper exeperiences of God's hand on your life. Sweating blood on your night of Gaethsamane crying out to God to take care of your family is what dependence on Him looks like sometimes. If he desires to move in a different mode of paradigm, in submission, we have to be ready to go with him because there is no one else who holds the words of life.
So in this discussion I want to say that we as the Church need to be ready and willing to do whatever it takes to be the people of God on earth and embody his mission here. If it means bi-occupational for a generation or two because of economic and cultural factors, then so be it because the Church moves on. The Church is not bound by the factors, figures and the oil prices of this world. We can change, adapt and transition in new ways because we listen to a differnt King. And that King demands singular allegiance.