Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ministry or Profit?

Had something happen recently and was commenting about it to my best friend, and he said I should blog about it, so decided to, and see if I can get some input.

First off, I do want to say that I understand that people need to make a living. I get that. Totally. Now off to my subject....

There is a site I used to frequent often originally geared for people who go to conservative holiness churches, as I do. Frustration caused me to leave that sight and ban it from my life. I remember a discussion along this line once. A Christian singing group was starting to set a price on their concerts, and the discussion was, it it really a ministry if you set a price?

My friend Steven keeps bugging me to talk to a counselor - and I think he is correct that I need to. At his suggestion, I called New Life ministries to see if they had any Christian counselors in their network who might do pro-bono work - also Steven's idea. They don't, and the man on the phone said most of the counselors in their network charge $800-$900 an hour. You read that right.

Now I don't know how many people they see in a day. Say, five. Five people a day, five days a week, $800 an hour, comes out to $20,000 a week - I never made that in a year! How can you not call that greed?! I assume they are doing it because they want to help people, but can't they help people at a fraction of that, and still live a life with everything they need? And these are Christian counselors!

Stack that up against the missionaries, Christian school teachers, and many pastors across the world. Who is God going to honor more? I know how our churches work. We tell the pastor this is what you will get paid. When we have a preacher or singers come for special services, we give them a certain amount - I have an idea what it is, and I think its decent, but these people are serving God. Ministering. They don't set a price and say that's what they have to have to come to your church.

But take any Christian group - Southern Gospel, CCM, whatever.....any group/singer who has their CDs on the market. They all call what they are doing a ministry - and maybe it is. Yet any of them will not come without getting a certain amount.....and sure, they have buses, and have to have money, but can you imagine Jesus doing that?

"Hey Jesus, I need some advice." "Ok, I charge $800 an hour - come up with that, and then come back and pray to me." "Jesus, could you come and speak at my church?" "Sure. I need $1000, a suite at the Hilton during my stay, a nice buffet lunch and supper...." "Jesus, could you come and sing at my church?" "Sure, but I only do concerts for $2000."

Seems rather ludicrous, yet we have all these people who claim His name, claiming they want to help people - counseling, books, singing, preaching.....and yet they want no sacrifice. They want paid, and they want paid well.

Picture a scene in Heaven. The missionary enters the Pearly Gates. He has sacrificed a lot, lived on a shoestring in a country away from friends and loved ones. Behind him walks John Smith. He counseled people for $800 an hour, helping them get over issues they had and get on with life. Who deserves a crown more? Who deserves a crown more?

Again, I know these people need to make a living. Yet what is done in the name of "ministry" shouldn't always cost so much. It shouldn't cost so much to get help, whether it be counseling, a book that might help, a DVD course...and I could go on and on.

I have checked into online courses that looked like they would be helpful.....and they did look helpful, but they were also out of my price range - a lot.

There may be those who will disagree with me, and that is fine. I do know people need to make a living, but I also believe if a person is doing something to help people......whether it is speaking, counseling, writing books - whatever, they should try to make it more reasonable.....that would make it a true ministry.

Thankfully, God is always there for us, and He doesn't charge. We can talk to him 24/7 and He won't charge a dime.

So, what do you think? Do people charge too much for things done in the name of "ministry"? And is it truly ministry if you have to take out a bank loan to use their ministry?

And for those who would disagree, I will again state in closing: Yes, people need to make a living, but I think if they are truly wanting to minister - to help people - they also won't push the line towards greed.


Be Beauty for ashes said...

I think that is a touchy subject. I think if I went to my own church that I paid tithes and offering at and they were trying to charge me for couselling or whatever, I would be offended. But, if I wanted to use a service through my church such as child care, or driving services that I know cost money, I don't think I would be upset with my church because these services cost money. I think that if we have a church home we are building into we should be able to benifit from the ministries there. The bible warns us about false prophets so I think the bigger question is whether these expensive services are truely of God, not home much they cost. If they were free and not of God, I don't want anything to do with them anyway. If they are of God, and I really believe that, the next question I would have to ask myself is why is the cost such a problem if I believe this is from God.

Kim M. said...

I say your problems ought to be solved if you have to pay that much. They ought to offer a money back guarantee!!!!

Me, Myself and I... said...

I have to agree with much of what you said. It really is crazy that anyone saying they serve God would charge you to talk to them, $800.00 an hour? LOL You can go to a licensed psychiatrist for 7 times less than that who are christian! That's just ridiculous and I do know of christian counselors who don't charge anything at all. You're right about the whole calling yourself a ministry if you're going to charge set price. I got a really good laugh out of asking Jesus to sing at your church :) You make really good points.
"The love of money is the root of all evil"

Steve-n-Deb said...

I think you make some excellent points.

BrandiJo said...

I really enjoyed this blog! I am a writer and have been in a bit of a wrestle with myself over this very issue. My husband and I are in need of more income, and as a writer it is easier said than done. I feel God has led me into youth ministry and I want to start a magazine or a series or who knows maybe both! Any-hoo, my struggle has been with charging for ministry services. Can I feel right offering my talents for a price? Or should I offer for free and accept donations? I believe your amusing points have shed some light here. Thank you!