Saturday, May 9, 2015

Giving of the Church & Pastors' Remuneration

It was exactly one week ago, I delivered my third and last sermon/talk at the Men's Conference in Kota Kinabalu. The attendance was 400 men registered and another 100 or more turned up for the night meetings. I was told that this was a two-fold increase in participation from what they had at last year's Conference. I spent several weeks preparing my notes and during the second talk, I went straight into the topic of church's economy and did not touch on the nation's economy for which I had 25 slides and another 20 that I actually used in my 63-minute delivery. I was given 90 minutes for my talk but I thought after a long day of Conference I would limit it to one hour in the night meeting.
As the night meeting turned a bit like a revival service, the format was more teaching and preaching rather than giving a lecture or talk in my first and third sessions. I spoke about giving to the work of the Lord through the local church. I spoke about a double tithe with a sub-theme, double tithe double blessing. I told them it was not about money or how much money we give to the Lord but our whole response in worship, presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. I spoke about the life of faith and multiplication. If we trust God to provide and bless us, then we need to believe in his promises. If the OT teaches a tithe of our belongings and income (Mal 3:10), how much more we should give in the NT. I quoted Jesus' saying in Matt 5:20 that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees we shall no wise enter the kingdom of heaven. If the Pharisees were faithful in tithing how much more should we give in the covenant of grace, the new covenant sealed by the Lord's blood? If Christ gave his all why should we hold back in our giving?

I spoke about the future of our denomination and how it ties with how we treat our pastors and remunerating them sufficiently. We have a high turn over rate, with many pastors resigning or ceasing ministry after 5 or 10 years. Even the most faithful when their children reach secondary school, it would be a huge trial for them to provide for their children if they are only earning less than RM1,000 a month. Yet many pastors are paid less than that until now with the cost of living increasing by the month and year.

I challenged the men, mostly elders and deacons of the church to honour their pastors by paying more. I challenged my HQ leaders to consider revising the scale of pastors' pay in keeping with the rise in cost of living with GST and the fall of the Ringgit. I joked about our President's remark in the opening session that we were living in iPad age, yet hardly any of our 300 pastors could afford one.

It was May's Day, Labour day when I spoke (1st May) and I spoke about the need for proper compensation for workers at all levels. I spoke about the need to attract professionals and tertiary educated men to enter full-time ministry. Since I entered full-time ministry 21 years ago, I do not know of a single professional with tertiary education entering ministry as pastor. We need pastors equipped with knowledge if we are to pastor our churches with knowledge and understanding (Jer 3:15) in view of the trend of the world now where knowledge increases (Dan 12:4).

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